Make Ahead

Pastry Cream

May  6, 2013
2 Ratings
  • Makes 1 3/4 cups
What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Special equipment: sieve.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until scalded; that is, until small bubbles form along the sides of the pan. While the milk is heating, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, and salt. (Mixing the flour with the sugar will prevent the flour from clumping when you add it to the egg yolks.) In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. The mixture will be thick and pasty.
  3. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add it to the egg-flour mixture, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisk continuously and vigorously, for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. At first, the mixture will be very frothy and liquidy; as it cooks longer, it will slowly start to thicken until the frothy bubbles disappear and it becomes more viscous. Once it thickens, stop whisking every few seconds to see if the mixture has come to a boil. If it has not, keep whisking vigorously. As soon as you see it bubbling, immediately go back to whisking for just 10 seconds, and then remove the pan from the heat. Boiling the mixture will thicken it and cook out the flour taste, but if you let it boil for longer than 10 seconds, the mixture can become grainy.
  4. Pour, push, and scrape the mixture through the sieve into a small, heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla and then cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold, before using. The cream can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jessica Fontaine
    Jessica Fontaine
  • Bumdadeebum Davina
    Bumdadeebum Davina
  • Regine
  • za'atar
I am a pastry chef/restaurateur in Boston passionate about all things sweet and savory. I co-own Flour Bakery+Cafe and co-own Myers+Chang, both in Boston. I love my work, I'm crazy about my husband, my staff keeps me going and is truly the most amazing group of people I've ever known, I am addicted to ice cream and fruit of all kinds. I used to run marathons but have scaled back a bit and am trying to be more well-rounded by attempting yoga. I read voraciously, I plan obsessively, I feel so very lucky to have found a life partner and a life passion both of which make me happy every day.

4 Reviews

Jessica F. April 19, 2022
This recipe was easy to follow and worked perfectly with the Boston Cream Pie. Will absolutely make it again.
Bumdadeebum D. April 13, 2016
Usually, Pastry Cream cannot be frozen... so I want to verify that this recipe will indeed work without "weeping" or separating, when using it in Joanne Chang's *frozen* "Boston Cream Pie" recipe. Please let me know if you have made it this way & it worked without any problems. Thanks.
Regine December 26, 2015
I made a wonderful baba recipe (in French) that called for creme patissiere (pastry cream) but mine came out more like a creme Anglaise. I told myself i would have to redo cake but use a different pastry cream recipe. This one seems perfect based on Za'atar's comment about it being thick. Mine was too liquidy. Supposed to be placed in middle of baba.
za'atar June 9, 2013
This is a great recipe with very clear directions. The end result itself is very thick, but it's delicious when lightened with whipped cream (as in the Boston cream pie recipe). Delicious!