This is the ultimate Crème Pâtissière recipe — creamy and highly versatile! It is silky enough to use in eclairs and creme puffs, yet stiff enough to use as a cake filling. Keep reading to learn the foolproof secrets to making this pastry cream perfect every time.
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How to Make Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream or Crema Pasticcera)
The best Crème Pâtissière is silky smooth even after it cools, with a delicate yet decadent flavor. Special tools required include a whisk and a strainer.
Chill a Bowl
Before starting: Put a large bowl in the freezer 30-60 minutes before starting your custard. We need it to cool the final custard!
Warm the Milk
To make pastry cream, start by warming milk and vanilla in a medium size pot. Warm it just until you see small bubbles —hot but not boiling. No thermometer is needed but do pay attention! Add a few teaspoons of natural vanilla extract or better yet the seeds (and pod) from one vanilla bean. Quality ingredients make a quality pastry cream!
Temper the Eggs
While the milk is warming, add the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and flour to a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients to a smooth paste. Zest the lemon but set it aside for now.
Once the milk is hot but not boiling, remove the vanilla bean pod pieces. Then, slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture a little at a time—whisking it vigorously as you pour. This is what is called ‘tempering’ and it simply means to warm the eggs to the same temperature as the milk. Tempering the eggs will protect them from curdling and creating lumps in your final pastry cream.
Once all of the milk has been added to the egg mix, strain the liquid back into your original pot. Straining is critical because there are always a few clumps that would otherwise ruin your Crème Pâtissière.
Once you’ve strained the liquid, you can add the lemon zest. We don’t add it until after the liquid has been strained to avoid straining out the lemon zest we just added! If you want lemon but prefer to avoid the texture of the lemon zest, you can add large slices of lemon zest to the milk along with the vanilla as you are warming the milk. Then, remove the slices along with the vanilla bean pod pieces before using it to temper the eggs.
Cook the pastry cream over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook it until it has thickened. Then, transfer all of the warm pastry cream to the chilled bowl… and continue whisking!
Whisk to Chill!
Adding warm pastry cream to a cold bowl drops the temperature of the Crème Pâtissière quickly and will produce the creamiest pastry cream possible. Whisk until the cream has cooled considerably. Then, lay plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream and chill it in the refrigerator.
Don’t want to do this extra step? Instead, transfer the pastry cream to a wide mouth container and lay plastic wrap or a silicon lid directly on top of the warm pastry cream. Any air between the cream and the cover gives a skin a chance to develop on your pastry cream—which will ruin the texture!
Pastry cream which hasn’t been cooled quickly after it’s cooked will be less creamy when it’s finally cool. We recommend against whipping it alot after it’s cool to try to make it creamy. This will change the viscosity.
Well Tempered Eggs 🙂
Tempering the egg yolk mixture is not hard. Whisk eggs with the sugar and other thickeners till they are smooth and blended (no lumps). Slowly pour the simmering (but not boiling) milk into the egg mix, whisking constantly.
After all the milk is added (it will be thin), strain the mix back into the pot for cooking and thickening it!
Super creamy? Chill the finished custard quickly!
Put a bowl in the freezer for an hour before making the pastry cream. This will be used after the custard is cooked to drop the temperature quickly. Just transfer the warm cooked custard to the cold bowl and keep whisking to drop the temperature!
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Creme Patissiere Recipe
- pot medium-sized
- large bowl
- 2 cups whole milk
- 10 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 lemon zest from one
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 3 ½ tbsp cornstarch
- 3 ½ tbsp flour
MAKE PASTRY CREAM
- A half an hour before starting the pastry cream, put another large bowl in the freezer to chill.
- In a medium pot, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer—hot but not boiling. If using fresh vanilla, split the pod and remove the seeds. Add the seeds and the pieces of pod to the milk as it warms.2 cups whole milk, 1 vanilla bean
- While the milk is warming, combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and flour into a large bowl. Whisk until the mix is thick and smooth.10 egg yolks, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, 3 ½ tbsp cornstarch, 3 ½ tbsp flour
- When the milk is hot, remove the pieces of vanilla bean pod. Then, slowly pour the milk into the egg mix, whisking continuously.
- When all of the milk is whisked into the eggs, strain the liquid back into the milk pot. Add the lemon zest and and heat the custard over medium heat until it thickens. Whisk constantly to prevent lumps.1 lemon zest
- Pour the pastry cream into into the chilled bowl, whisking continuously—this time to quickly cool down the custard.
- When the custard is mostly cool, lay plastic wrap or a silicon lid directly on top of the custard and put that in the refrigerator to chill as well.