October 27th, 2007

Crème patissière (pastry cream) recipe

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I’m pretty certain you’ve all come across Crème patissière before. Pronounced “Krehm pah-tee-see-ehr”, it is also known as pastry cream, & confectioners’ custard. It’s that flour-based custard cream that’s used to fill desserts such as eclairs, tarts, & mille-feuille.

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It is the basic of crèmes, & is the most widely used cream type when it comes to pastry making as it is used as a base foundation to make other types of creams such as Crème diplomate, Crème mousseline, Crème chiboust & Crème frangipane.

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I make between 650g to just over 1kg of Crème patissière every week to fill the inside layer of ‘Gateaux Basque with prunes’, & also to mix some with Crème d’amandes (almond cream) to end up with Crème frangipane, which, once baked in the tart case becomes the foundation for my fresh fruit tarts.

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So here’s the recipe below. Sorry if the recipe reads long – I tried to explain why every step is done in that way, … because, knowing the ‘whys’ of how things work, is one step closer to getting a good result!
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Crème patissière (pastry cream) recipe:
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Ingredients (to make 650g):

500ml fresh milk (full fat)
1 x vanilla pod
6 egg yolks (free-range or organic)
150g sugar (castor or granulated)
50g plain flour (sifted)

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… ice cubes
… cling-filmed tray/ vat (cling-film the bottom & the sides with one sheet). Keep it cool in the fridge until needed.

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… stainless steel mixing bowl
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  • 1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk. (Refer to paragraph at the end about what to do with the left-over egg whites)
  • 2. Add the sugar in one go. Whisk straight-away & thoroughly until the sugar dissolves. The golden rule here is to never leave a mound of sugar lying around in the egg yolk. Sugar has the same tendency as salt, it absorbs moisture, so if you don’t whisk it together at first instance, it’ll suck moisture from the yolk. Bits of yolk would dry, & leave orange ‘granules’ in your crème.
  • 3. Sift the flour in, & fold it in until the flour just disappears. Never over-mix the flour, as it will produce gluten, which will give your crème a tough texture. (If you want to read more about flour & gluten, click here.) – - – - – - – - Here, flour also acts as a heat-shield to protect your eggs from cooking like omelette when you add the hot milk later on. – - – - – - – - Some Crème patissière recipes call for cornstarch instead of flour, or sometimes ask you to use both. It produces slight difference. Cornstarch gives you a ‘clearer’ crème, whilst flour results in a more ‘milky’ look. The texture is also slightly different too – cornstarch one is a little ‘jelly-like’ & ‘bouncy-er’. If you are using your Crème patissière as a base to create other crèmes, then it is best to stick to just flour.
  • 4. Flatten the vanilla pod with the side of your knife (so that it is easier to cut), & cut it in half, lengthways. De-seed. The use of vanilla in Crème patissière is important as it keeps the ‘eggy’ smell down. If you are using vanilla essence instead of pod, add the essence right at the end, after the Crème patissière has cooled down.
  • 5. Place the seeds & the pod-skin in the cold milk. … Boiling milk with the vanilla is the best way to enhance the vanilla flavour to its fullest.
  • 6. Heat the milk in a pan over the hob (the size of the pan must be big enough to be used to cook the crème at a later stage).
  • 7. Let it reach just before the boiling stage.
  • 8. Pour small amount of the hot milk (roughly 1/4) in to the egg mixture in the mixing bowl. Whisk & mix. Pour the rest in. Whisk & mix. … It is best to start off mixing with small amount of hot milk, because you’d have better control over the mixture & make sure you won’t be left with lumps.
  • 9. Sieve all of it back to the pan. … Sieving gets rid of the vanilla pod-skin.
  • 10. Put it over high-heat, & whisk ‘all the time’. … The key word here is high-heat. Cooking over weak heat takes too long, & it’ll produce gluten that would toughen your crème, as opposed to the smooth texture you are after. So, always whisk, energetically, to ensure that the crème doesn’t get burnt on the bottom & sides of the pot.
  • 11. After it reaches boiling point (bubbling on the surface), keep cooking for another 2 minutes. You want to cook the flour thoroughly.
  • 12. Pour the hot mixture in to the cold cling-filmed tray. And use the the ice & water method, called an ‘ice bath’, whereby you place your tray in a bigger tray that is filled with ice & water. … Ideally, it shouldn’t be over 1cm deep, so that it cools quickly. – - – - – Not only is this important so as to stop its cooking process, it is vital to cool it ’til below the ‘temperature danger zone’ (between 5 degrees and 60 degrees) where most bacteria grow most rapidly to dangerous levels, some doubling in number within twenty minutes. – - – - If you don’t have a tray & using a bowl instead, use stainless-steel. And use the ‘ice bath’ method with another larger bowl.
  • 13. Cling-film the top surface. The film should lie right on the surface. This is to stop the top surface from forming a skin.
  • 14. Once mostly cool, place the crème in the fridge until needed. Make sure your fridge is set below 5 degrees. If not sure, best to buy a fridge thermometer.
  • 15. Blend well with spatula before using.

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Suggestions for left-over egg whites:

make meringues, macarons, add one whole egg to make fried egg (or indeed what about a yolk-less fried egg?), or you can freeze it until you need it! To freeze, spoon egg whites in each section of a ice cube tray & pop it in the freezer. Then remove the egg white cubes in a freezer zip-lock bag, label it with the date & store.

17 Comments »

  1. Dear Tamami,
    How I wish I live in London so I can visit your market stall! Your tarts and bakes look so divine I want to buy them all :)

    Considering you bake professionally, you are amazingly generous with your recipes. Thanks a million for this creme patissiere recipe. Can’t wait to try it out soon.

    Comment by Caprice - October 30, 2007 12:45 pm

  2. Hi Caprice! Thank you for your kind words!

    I’m waiting for my N.E.W digital camera (yay!) (the old one my son managed to break…) to arrive from Amazon, so once I do, I plan to take pictures of the cooking process of Crème patissière, & post that up too! So, please come back to see this recipe again around mid-November, thanx!

    Comment by tamami - October 30, 2007 2:12 pm

  3. Hi tamami
    Thank you for sharing how the cream is made. I can actually visualise all that is explained and hope to try out making the cream too.

    Comment by Cecily - November 1, 2007 7:56 am

  4. Hi Cecily! thanks! Hope it goes well!

    Comment by tamami - November 1, 2007 9:18 am

  5. Wonderful site, gracious,generous and beautiful.
    I loved the pastry cream recipe,thank you for taking the trouble to include so much detail, it helped a lot.
    I wish I could visit your stall, your items look beautiful.
    I make about 100 cupcakes for a company each week. I work full-time so I do them over Thusday & Friday evening. I will never,ever moan about being tired again after reading your schedule and seeing what you produce in 20 hours a week !

    Comment by sweetrosie - November 3, 2007 10:14 am

  6. Hello Sweetrosie! Thank you!! – But in actual fact, I DO moan ‘all-the-time’ about being tired to my partner D. I just don’t mention it too much here thats all!! ;-)
    Hope to hear from you again soon!

    Comment by tamami - November 4, 2007 6:37 pm

  7. What a great idea–separating your egg whites into an ice cube tray!! It’s the solution I’ve been trying to come up with for years! Thank you so much for sharing.
    –WJ

    Comment by WJ - February 22, 2009 4:07 pm

  8. No probs, WJ!! ;-)

    Comment by tamami - February 22, 2009 6:47 pm

  9. Hi Tamami,

    I fell in love with your blog a week ago. I stumbled across it one night when I couldn’t sleep and was thinking of chocolate truffle ideas. I found this by accident because I was thinking of starting my own chocolate truffle/cake stall (strange coincidence) here in Melbourne, Australia. I love love love your beautiful array of sweets and the care you put into each piece. Unfortunately seeing your things made me stop and sigh and I didn’t want to start a stall until I could get anything close to as beautiful as your things (I’m 22, a beginner cook) but I do love to bake. I got inspired again though after I gave my chocolates to family who encouraged me to sell them publicly. I almost gave up when I seized three bowls of chocolate in one night (double boiler method you see…) I would appreciate any tips you could give me. Also, I have been really really reaaaalllyy curious about this, your chocolate tart with the bird on it….how is that image done?? My brain has been trying to wrap itself around how you have embossed an image and also stencilled at the same time? Hehe, if it’s a secret, don’t tell me.

    Thank you for the blog.

    xo Jamilah

    Comment by Jamilah - September 9, 2009 6:43 pm

  10. Oh yes…the reason why I posted in the first place was to mention I just made your creme patissiere after getting organic vanilla beans in the mail today. I’m making vanilla slices with passionfruit icing, although I’m afraid I might have beat the mixture too much. I can’t wait to try it! I just wish my husband loved sweets more, too much ends up getting thrown away if I don’t find someone to give it to. >.

    Comment by Jamilah - September 9, 2009 6:47 pm

  11. Hello Jamilah. I also started the idea of selling because my family and friends liked them. My initial attempts were terrible compared to now! Don’t give up if this is what you really want! ;) As for melting chocolate, I use a melting machine. Tip? Many many attempts…
    - The bird? It’s a stamp-like thing, and I dust the cocoa powder whilst the stamp is still on the tart!
    - I hope the creme pat went well!
    xx

    Comment by tamami - September 10, 2009 5:08 pm

  12. Hello, Your stall & cakes look abolutely amazing. So inspirational and your generosity in sharing recipes is wonderful.
    I’m going to be making some tarts in a camper van this summer, and I wondered if I could cheat and use a ready made custard as a creme pat base? What do you think? Obviously it wouldn’t be as good, but could it work?

    Comment by Polly - July 6, 2012 3:01 pm

  13. Hi Polly!! Thank you for your lovely comment!
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    hm…, well, I have never tried ready-made. I haven’t seen any in shops. So I can’t say wether it’ll work…
    - But on a personal opinion, ready made stuff often tastes synthetic & not very nice. Also, if you’re gonna make the tart, you ought to make it 100% all. And, the creme pat, it’s not hard to do. So why not give it a go? Maybe give it a couple of practice runs prior to your baking day!!
    Hope this helps & happy baking! xx

    Comment by Tamami - July 6, 2012 4:11 pm

  14. Wow, such a quick response…thank you. It’s only that I’ll be using the mini camping stove, so I was a little apprehensive. But I’ll have a practice, I have 2 hungry boys at home who’ll be happy to test the resultsfor me. Thanks again :)

    Comment by Polly - July 6, 2012 4:30 pm

  15. ha ha, nothing like having kids that are happy to eat practice runs!! – Let me know how it goes! :) Not sure how it will turn out over a mini camping stove, as you’d need to steady the pot while vigorously stirring, but it sure does sound ultra fun!! xx

    Comment by Tamami - July 6, 2012 4:46 pm

  16. Just want to say that I LOVE the “why” part because I want to know the science behind it and not just how to make it :) LOVE it!! Absolutely LOVE it!! Thank you for that!

    PS: Will definitely make a stop at the market during my lifelong travels. Hope to see you there!

    Comment by Luvena - April 1, 2013 5:23 pm

  17. Luvena, thank you for leaving a positive feedback here!! I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading the ‘why’. I’m the same as you, I love finding out about the ‘why’ too! Hope to see you one day at the market then! x

    Comment by tamami - April 8, 2013 1:30 pm

 

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