Pastry cream



Pastry cream

Eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Few ingredients to make one of the most popular creams: Pastry cream. This cream is among the most used in confectionery, such as chantilly or zabaglione, to fill many pastries. In beignets, puff pastry cakes (such as cannoncini, vol-au-vent, millefoglie), but also in the soft layers of the classic Pan di Spagna (Sponge cake) pastry cream is always welcome, flavored too: pistachio, lemon, coffee, orange! This basic pastry preparation is also used to make semifreddo, puddings and many spoon cakes, such as our delicious Brick cake (Layered no-bake cake). It's a very versatile cream: just change the amounts of some ingredients to obtain different consistencies suitable for the use you will make of them! For example, to thicken it more, you just use more corn starch; or the reverse, if you want soft desserts, just reduce the amount. Follow the step-by-step procedure with Master Pastry Chef Iginio Massari and discover all the tricks to prepare the perfect pastry cream!


Ingredients for about 1,6 lbs (750 g) of cream
Whole milk 2 ¼ cups (500 g)
Sugar ⅔ cup (130 g)
Egg yolks 7 (125 g)
Rice starch ⅓ cup (40 g)
Vanilla bean 2
Lemon peel 1

How to prepare Pastry cream

To prepare the pastry cream first put a glass bowl in the freezer. Now cut the seeds out of the vanilla pods 1 and cut the pods into pieces 2. Pour the milk into a pan and add both the seeds 3 and the vanilla pods.

Cut the rind from the lemon, taking only the yellow part, and put it in the pan 4. Turn on the burner and heat it all together at a boil, stirring from time to time. In another saucepan, pour the yolks, sugar and rice starch 5. Using a soft whisk, stir to obtain a smooth, creamy consistency 6.


As soon as the milk is close to boiling, add it into the yolks in 3 parts, filtering it with a strainer 7 and constantly stirring with a whisk 8. Put back on the burner and stir continuously until it thickens 9.

To cool it quickly, take the bowl out of the freezer and pour the cream inside 10. Stir with a whisk very quickly, until you have brought the cream to 120° F (50° C), below the cooking point. You need to have a smooth and very shiny cream 11. At this point the custard is ready 12, you can use it or store it in the fridge by covering it with plastic wrap.



The pastry cream can be stored in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for 5 days.
Alternatively you can freeze it for 1 month.


Use rice starch to obtain a softer cream, otherwise if you prefer a firmer cream use the same amount of corn starch.

Never leave the yolks in contact with the sugar without stirring, otherwise they will cook and the cream will be lumpy.

By previously heating the milk the egg yolk will be less affected by the high temperature, giving a particular freshness to the aromatic taste. 

With these amounts, you will be able to fill a 9 inch (22 cm) diameter cake with two layers of cream.