Pastry cream shouldn’t be intimidating. Make this simple crema pasticcera recipe like the Italians do for countless desserts and pastries, like zeppole di San Giuseppe, Mimosa cake and more.
This pastry cream recipe is so easy to make, you’ll be patting yourself on the back when you see and taste the results!
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I also have a twist on this crema pasticcera that I think tastes even better than the original. It’s lighter and can be used in so many ways, or just eaten from a bowl (you can’t really do that with pastry cream).
What is Pastry Cream?
As the name suggests, pastry cream is used in pastries and cakes. It’s a sort of custard, but with an additional thickener like flour, or starch. In France it’s called crème pâtissière (Brits nickname it creme pat), and it Italy it is known as crema pasticcera. You may have seen pastry cream used to make the two types of filling in my zuccotto recipe.
What is Pastry Cream Made of?
Pastry cream normally consists of egg yolks, sugar, a thickener (flour, potato or corn starch, for example) milk and/or cream, and vanilla. It’s cooked on the stovetop and then must be refrigerated.
Pastry Cream Recipe (Crema Pasticcera)
adapted from Il Cucchiaio D’Argento serves 16 (when filling pastries)
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
- egg yolks
- potato or corn starch
- vanilla bean/powder
Directions to Make Pastry Cream
Place the egg yolks into a medium sized pot (off the heat).
Add the sugar and potato or corn starch and whisk together until uniform.
When the mixture is smooth, place the pot on the stovetop.
Begin pouring in the warm milk whilst whisking, then turn the heat on to medium.
Continue whisking and gradually increase the heat. The pastry cream will thicken as it heats up.
When the mixture comes to a boil, let it cook for about 3 minutes then remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and keep stirring as it cools so that it doesn’t form a skin. Move into a large bowl and set the bowl into a larger bowl with ice water (if you need to cool it quickly), then refrigerate covered until completely chilled.
Pastry cream can be kept refrigerated for 2 or 3 days, but consume promptly once the pastries are filled.
Use as desired, for example, to fill choux buns or zeppole di San Giuseppe.
Christina’s Twist on Pastry Cream
See notes in the printable recipe card below.
Using the recipe above, fold in Grand Marnier and whipped heavy cream (beat until stiff). The result is spectacular! It can be served in bowls, but also used in pastries, cakes, trifles, etc. The flavor and texture is sublime! I like it so much more than the original pastry cream!
Pastry Cream Recipe (Crema Pasticcera)
Simple Italian pastry cream recipe (crema pasticcera) that is used for filling countless desserts and pastries.
- 4 egg yolks (organic)
- ⅓ c (75 g) sugar
- 3 Tbsp (30g) potato starch (if using corn starch add 1 more tsp)
- pinch of salt
- 14 oz (415 ml) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla or ½ tsp pure vanilla powder or paste
- Place the egg yolks into a medium sized pot (off the heat).
- Add the sugar and potato or corn starch and whisk together until uniform.
- When the mixture is smooth, place the pot on the stovetop. Begin pouring in the warm milk whilst whisking. Turn the heat on to medium.
- Continue whisking and gradually increase the heat. The pastry cream will thicken as it heats up.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, let it cook for about 3 minutes then remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and keep stirring as it cools so that it doesn't form a skin. Move into a large bowl and set the bowl into a larger bowl with ice water (if you need to cool it quickly), then refrigerate covered until completely chilled.
- Use as desired.
- If you want a lighter version of this pastry cream, whip 4 oz of heavy whipping cream until stiff and then fold into the chilled pastry cream.
- You can add more or less cream to your liking, and also add a little sugar to the cream when whipping (I prefer it without).
- Adding a tablespoonful of Grand Marnier makes a lovely addition, too.
- Pastry cream can be kept refrigerated for 1 or 2 days, but consume promptly once the pastries are filled.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 108Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 33mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
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Great post. Crema pasticcera is definitely one of those culinary tricks that should be up every cook’s sleeve.