Crème pâtissière is a thick, creamy custard also known as pastry cream. It is used in many French desserts such as pastries, tarts, éclairs and also as a base for soufflés. Considering its wide range of uses, it’s essential that every self-respecting baker knows how to make it. Luckily it’s really easy and requires no special ingredients or equipment to make – I’m pretty sure you could whip up a batch right now!
500ml full cream milk
1/2 vanilla pod or 5ml vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
100g castor sugar
25g cake flour
Pinch of salt
- Split the vanilla pod (if using) and scrape out the seeds. Place the milk in a saucepan over medium heat with the vanilla pod and seeds and slowly bring to the boil.
- Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Sift the flour and cornflour into this mixture, then whisk well until you have a smooth paste.
- As soon as the milk has come to a boil, remove from heat, discard the vanilla pod and pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth.
- Return this mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Allow it to come to the boil, reduce to low heat and continue cooking until well thickened (about 1-2 minutes).
- Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract (if using instead of the vanilla pod) and pour into a large dish (spreading the custard thinly helps it to cool quickly). Press a piece of cling wrap directly on to the surface of the crème pâtissière to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool to room temperature then refrigerate until well chilled.
- Whisk well before using to remove any lumps.
- The crème pâtissière can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
– For a creamier custard, stir 2 tablespoons of softened butter into the warm crème pâtissière.
– For a lighter custard, fold in 250ml of softly whipped cream once the crème pâtissière has cooled to room temperature.
– Stir in 2 tablespoons of your favourite liqueur after removing from the heat.