How to Make Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream)

An easy to follow recipe for Crème Pâtissière, also known as pastry cream or vanilla custard. Comprehensive recipe with step-by-step photos.

white bowl of creme patissiere or pastry cream on marble board

Pastry Cream Recipe

Pastry cream is a popular component of many French desserts. It is a thick, vanilla custard which you will often find inside Profiteroles or Éclairs, spread between the layers of a Millefeuilles, or used as the filling for fruit tarts.

In France, it is called crème pâtissière.

In the US, crème pâtissière is called pastry cream.

In Australia, the UK and many other countries, crème pâtissière is sometimes known as vanilla custard. However, there are different types of custard – pouring custard or thickened custard – which can make the term “custard” a bit confusing to use sometimes.

What is Crème Anglaise?

Crème anglaise is the French term for what the non-French would call a thin pouring custard, typically served alongside desserts and puddings common in British cooking (hence the name).

A crème anglaise uses the same ingredients as that for a crème pâtissiere, except for the addition of a stabilising agent like cornflour (cornstarch) or flour.

Hence, making crème anglaise requires a bit more technical skill, especially since the custard is at risk of splitting or curdling if it becomes too hot.

What is Crème Pâtissière?

Crème pâtissière is a thickened vanilla custard. It is a custard made using cornflour (cornstarch) or flour to thicken the mixture, giving it stability for uses in desserts like profiteroles or éclairs.

Crème pâtissière is much easier to make than crème anglaise as there is little to no risk of the mixture splitting or curdling.

bowl of creme patissiere or pastry cream with whisk

How to Make Crème Pâtissière

Making crème pâtissière is relatively quick and easy because the flour in the mixture helps to bind and thicken the ingredients without any risk of splitting or curdling.

Step 1

Start by warming the milk and cream together in a medium-sized saucepan. I also like to add a splash of vanilla extract at this stage to intensify the vanilla flavour.

how to make creme patissiere, warm the milk and cream in a saucepan

Step 2

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and flour in a large bowl, preferably with a pouring lip.

how to make creme patissiere, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and flour

Step 3

Once the milk and cream is just about to simmer, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking quickly as you do so to prevent any lumps from forming, and to stop the egg mixture from scrambling.

It is a good idea to place a wet cloth under the bowl to stop it from moving while you are whisking.

how to make creme patissiere, whisk the milk and cream into the egg mixture

Step 4

Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, and return the saucepan to the stove.

Continue to whisk over medium heat until the custard thickens considerably. This should only take a few minutes. The custard should be thick and smooth, and free from any lumps.

Pour the custard into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a sheet of clingfilm pressed against the custard to prevent a skin from forming.

how to make creme patissiere, continue whisking on the stove until the custard thickens

Recipes Using Crème Pâtissière

If you are looking for recipes using crème pâtissière, you might enjoy the following:

Chocolate Éclairs

profiteroles with chocolate sauce on white plate

Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

Print

Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream or Vanilla Custard)

5 from 2 reviews

How to make Crème Pâtissière, also known as pastry cream or vanilla custard. Easy to follow recipe with step-by-step photos.

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 750 ml (3 cups)
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pour the milk and cream into a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Warm the mixture until it just starts to simmer.
  4. In a large bowl or jug, beat together the egg yolks and sugar, and then whisk in the flour.
  5. Slowly pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture (not the other way around or else you will have scrambled eggs), whisking as you do so until the custard is smooth.
  6. Pour this mixture into a clean saucepan and whisk gently over medium heat until the custard thickens. This should take only a few minutes.
  7. Continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes to allow the mixture to release a few bubbles.
  8. Pour the custard into a bowl and set aside to cool.
  9. I recommend covering the bowl with a layer of clingfilm pressed against the custard to stop a skin from forming.

Kitchen Notes

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Makes 3 cups
  • Calories: 1499
  • Sugar: 118.4g
  • Sodium: 584.4mg
  • Fat: 79.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 141.5g
  • Fiber: 0.8g
  • Protein: 53g
  • Cholesterol: 1280.1mg

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3 comments

  1. Madeleine 1 June 2019

    Great recipe! Thanks for the step by step photos – very helpful!

    Reply
  2. Shaheena Chowdhury 15 August 2019

    Creme patissiere is not as complicated as it sounds. Thanks a bunch, Thanh! 🙂

    Reply