Vanilla Pastry Cream

Helene

(10)

The Vanilla Pastry Cream is a basic recipe in the baking world. Master this recipe and open the doors to a full range of desserts.

bowl of vanilla pastry cream

Rich and creamy custard, this crème patissiere (aka fancy French name for vanilla pastry cream) is widely used in French pastry and also in various recipes from all over the world. The options are endless: tart filling, cream puff pastry, mille-feuille, or even eat it just with a spoon.

bowl of vanilla pastry cream on the table

The vanilla pastry cream recipe is easy to make from simple ingredients. It doesn’t require too much time. It’s easily adaptable if you look for another flavor, like this chocolate pastry cream.

Ingredients for the Vanilla Pastry Crea

  • Milk: 2% fat or whole milk
  • Vanilla: vanilla bean or vanilla extract
  • Egg yolks: for a rich cream. Use the egg whites to make this halzenut cake or macarons, financiers, floating islands, pavlova, meringues…
  • Sugar: caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • Flour: all-purpose flour for the texture
  • Cornstarch: to avoid too much flour 
  • Unsalted Butter: to add extra richness to the texture

Tips for the Vanilla Pastry Cream

To make sure you succeed in this creme patissiere recipe, or custard crème recipe if you prefer this name, please follow a few tips:

  • Ingredients at room temperature.
  • Ensure to mix the egg yolks, and sugar. Then, add the flour and cornstarch and mix together before adding the hot milk. It prevents lumps. But don’t do it ahead of time. Mix it together a few minutes before adding the milk.
  • While pouring the hot milk, keep the bowl with the egg-sugar mixture on a tea towel to prevent it from slipping.
  • Cook over a medium heat. Don’t try to speed up the process with a higher temperature. A higher temperature may cause a lumpy cream.
  • Stir constantly the pastry cream while cooking.
  • Use a shallow dish; it will cool faster.
  • Cover the surface immediately with plastic wrap, touching the surface. It prevents skin from developing.
  • Let it cool completely before using it for your dessert.
  • Soften the pastry cream with a spatula when you are ready to use it.
vanilla pastry cream top view

Troubleshooting with the Vanilla Pastry Cream

My pastry cream is too thin: you haven’t cooked the pastry cream properly. Return it to the heat; it will thicken as it cooks.

My pastry cream is too thick: You may have overcooked the cream. Once completely cooled, add milk, a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a flexible spatula between each addition to soften the cream.

Or maybe, you add too much flour/cornstarch. Use a kitchen scale for accurate measurements.

My pastry cream is lumpy/grainy: make sure to mix properly the egg yolks, flour, cornstarch, and sugar together before adding the hot milk. Cook over a medium heat. A higher temperature may cause a lumpy cream.

FAQs 

How to store the Vanilla Pastry Cream?

This pastry cream must be stored in the fridge. You can keep it for up to 3 days. Place the cream in an air-tight container, with a piece of plastic wrap covering the entire surface.

I don’t recommend freezing the pastry cream; it will split and lose the creamy texture.

How to use it?

Every recipe requires pastry cream filling: tart filling, cream puff pastry, mille-feuille, cupcake filling like these Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes….

This pastry cream recipe is also the starting point for filling and frosting: German buttercream, Diplomat cream, and Chiboust cream. The common point between this recipe: the pastry cream is mixed with other ingredients.

close-up of vanilla pastry cream

Try these cakes, next:

If you tried this Vanilla Pastry Cream or any recipe on the blog, let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment below.

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Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Serves: 1

The Vanilla Pastry Cream is a basic recipe in the baking world. Master this recipe and open the doors to a full range of desserts.

Ingredients

  • 30 cl (1 cup + 1/4 cup) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract /vanilla paste
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 30 g (4 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 12 g (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) all-purpose flour
  • 30 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter - diced

Method

  • 1)

    Add the milk and vanilla extract into a saucepan. Heat the milk over medium heat and bring it to a simmer, almost to a boil.

  • 2)

    While the milk is being heated, place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Whisk until well combined, smooth and a lighter color.

  • 3)

    Add the cornstarch and flour to the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth.

  • 4)

    As soon as the milk starts to simmer / first bubbles, remove it from the heat. Gradually pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

  • 5)

    Return the mixture into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken.

  • 6)

    Let the custard come to a boil, lower the heat and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is thick. Once cooled, the cream will be thicker.

  • 7)

    Remove from the heat and transfer the cream into a glass / ceramic bowl. Add the butter immediately, and let it melt for 2 to 3 minutes.

  • 8)

    Whisk until the butter it’s completely melted and mixed in. At the beginning, the vanilla cream looks curdled, don’t worry, that’s normal, keep whisking until smooth.

    Cover immediately the surface with plastic wrap, making sure to touch the surface. It prevents skin from developing.

    Place in the fridge as soon as you can and let it cool completely.

  • 9)

    When you are ready to use, soften the pastry cream with a spatula.

Notes

– US/UK baking spoons,  standard size:  teaspoon: 5ml / tablespoon: 15ml / cup: 240ml

Quantity to fill:
– a 8 / 9 inch tart
– 12-15 cupcakes: depending on the size of the hole
– 10 choux pastry: depending on the size

– Store in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days

– Scroll back to read tips and frequently asked questions within the blog post that you might find helpful.

10 Comments

  • LaKita

    October 18, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    This vanilla pastry cream had a hard time making it into another recipe. It’s so good by itself! Rich, creamy, and perfect!

  • Amanda Mason

    October 20, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Really tasty recipe! I’ve been adding these into pastry puffs and they are a hit with the family!

  • Jessica

    October 21, 2022 at 11:20 am

    This recipe is making me want to make a dessert right NOW! Pastry cream is my favorite and this recipe looks delish. I like the tip about the plastic wrap touching the cream 😉

  • Kristina

    October 22, 2022 at 8:02 am

    This is a delicious recipe for filling and we use it often especially during the holidays. My favorite is in any type of cupcake- it brings them to a whole new level than just standard cupcakes.

  • Leslie

    October 22, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    This is the classic staple for all pastry baking! Everyone needs a perfect vanilla cream recipe!

  • Cathleen

    October 22, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    I have been searching for good pastry cream recipe for years, and this one takes the cake! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe 🙂

  • Maddy

    October 22, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    This is the best cream to use when making homemade donuts. It tastes like the cream filled donuts from the local donut shop- only better cause it’s homemade!

  • Debbie

    October 23, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    I have been looking for the perfect Vanilla Pastry cream and finally found it. I made this to fill some eclairs but this will be so good in many things.

  • Amanda

    October 23, 2022 at 8:08 pm

    This pastry cream is beyond delicious! I made it to fill some cream puffs, and it had the perfect vanilla flavor. Definitely keeping this recipe on hand for the future.

  • Loreto and Nicoletta

    October 23, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    You made me think of my mom. She loved making pastry cream for a cake she would make. I remember standing on a chair beside her waiting for her to finish so I could lich the spatula, and bowl.
    Thank you!

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