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Basic Pastry Cream, Food Gyps

Basic Pastry Cream

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  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


Basic Pastry Cream or Creme Patissiere, a smooth, creamy filling for layer cakes, cream puffs, or doughnuts, it’s easy to make and extraordinarily versatile. This is a recipe you really can’t go wrong with!


Units Scale
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or one vanilla bean, split
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yokes
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Add milk to small, heavy-bottomed pot. Add vanilla and any infusion ingredients (zest, etc, see note). Bring to a medium simmer over medium heat.
  2. While milk is on the stove secure a good-sized bowl with a damp cloth on your counter or cutting board and add your sugar.  Sperate eggs, reserve whites (great for tomorrow’s breakfast) and add yokes to sugar.  Whisk to cream together, until sugar is dissolved and you have a light, smooth, golden blond paste.
  3.  Add cornstarch to egg-sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
  4. Remove vanilla pod if using.  If infusing with zest you can strain your milk as you add it to the eggs to remove the zest. (Personally, I love the tangy bite of zest in pastry cream, so I leave it in.) Add hot milk, one-third at a time, whisking continually, until incorporated fully into eggs then pour the mixture back into the pot and return to medium heat.
  5. Whisk as the mixture comes to a low boil, thickening as it heats.  Be sure to whisk around the edges, and right down to the bottom to get all the cornstarch incorporated into your pastry cream.
  6. Remove from heat.  Pour off hot pastry cream into medium-sized, clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, directly on the pastry cream to prevent ‘skin’ from forming.  Chill in refrigerator, one-hour minimum.
  7. Remove from fridge.  Pastry cream will be ‘set’ in a solid mass.  Whisk to break down to a creamy consistency once again so that it is easily mailable, spreadable or pipeable.


Chocolate Pastry Cream:  Add 3 – 4 tablespoons cocoa powder or finely chopped chocolate to the final pastry cream, while still hot. Whisk to combine.

Lemon White Chocolate Pastry Cream: infuse milk with zest of one lemon.  Add 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate to final pastry cream while still hot. As chocolate melts, whisk in white chocolate to combine.

Citrus Pastry Cream: infuse milk with about 1 tablespoon freshly grated citus zest. Try orange, pink grapefruit, lime, or lemon.

Raspberry, Blueberry, Strawberry, Cherry, Mango, Banana or Peach Pastry Cream: Add up to 1/4 cup of fresh berries or fruit to COLD pastry cream.  Use finely chopped fruit (strawberries or peaches), try lightly crushed fruit (raspberries or blueberries), your favourite jam (any fruit) or fruit puree (mango, banana)

Use your imagination.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: French