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Le Cordon Bleu News, 06/01/2013
Pastry cream
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Technique: Pastry cream
Pastry cream is prepared with milk, egg yolks, sugar, flour and/or cornstarch and is cooked on the stove top. Traditionally pastry cream is made with a flavored milk (Cointreau, rum or vanilla), but other liquids, such as orange juice, are occasionally used. This fundamental French pastry technique is similar to a crème anglaise since it requires special attention and is cooked over low heat however the main difference is that pastry cream is thickened and must be brought to the boil. The binding agent may be flour, cornstarch or a combination of the two depending on the degree of lightness required and the final usage.
Le Cordon Bleu explains the technique, step by step, through this basic pastry cream recipe that can be reused whatever the circumstances.
This technique can be applied to the pastry cream recipe of your choice.
Principal ingredients (for 775 g pastry cream)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 25 g flour
  • 25 g cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 500 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (pod), split
pastry cream 1. Pour the milk in a saucepan. Using the point of a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk, add the bean and bring to the boil. Beat the sugar and the egg yolks in a bowl until pale yellow, thick and creamy, then whisk in flour and cornstarch.
how to cook a pastry cream 2.Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, and stir ½ of the hot milk into the egg yolk-sugar-cornflour mixture, and mix well to combine
pastry cream recipe 3. Return to the saucepan and cook gently, stirring continuously with a whisk until the cream thickens.
good pastry cream recipe 4. Boil for 1 minute while continuing to stir.
Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and cover the surface with cling film. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until using. Whisk the pastry cream before using.
Chef’s tips:
  • To avoid lumps from forming, due to the cornstarch and/or flour, vigorous whisking of the cream is essential throughout cooking.
  • Because the cream burns easily, it should be made in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and whisked constantly during cooking, taking care to reach all parts of the saucepan.
  • You can easily flavor pastry cream with whatever you prefer: add chocolate, praline or coffee to change the taste and color!
Did you know...?
Pastry cream is the base for various soufflés and for many derivative creams very often used in French pastry, for example:
  • Chiboust cream : pastry cream with gelatin and Italian meringue
  • Mousseline cream : pastry cream plus cream or butter
  • Diplomate cream : pastry cream plus whipped cream
  • Frangipane : pastry cream plus almond cream
This technique has been used in the following recipes :

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