Bold Baking Basics

Simple Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

5 from 5 votes
My Simple Pastry Cream recipe, or Crème Pâtissière, comes together in no time and can be used to fill eclairs, donuts, cream puffs, & more!

Hi Bold Bakers!

Sometimes a dessert is fine on its own. Then, sometimes, a dessert is even better when you fill it with something else, giving it another texture and a different kind of sweetness. There’s someone on the Bigger Bold Baking team that just cannot avoid cream-filled desserts, so this simple Pastry Cream recipe is for him (but don’t tell him, because it’s also for all of the rest of you Bold Bakers out there!).

Pastry Cream, also known as Crème Pâtissière (or even Crème Pât), is what fills some of your favorite desserts, like cream puffs, eclairs, and pastry tarts.

What Is Crème Pâtissière?

Also known as Pastry Cream, Crème Pâtissière (or Crème Pât) is a French thickened custard used to fill desserts. It’s so simple that it doesn’t need much more explanation than that. Could you imagine an eclair without it?

Oh, and when I say thick, I mean thick! Some other custards can be poured or even baked, but pastry cream is meant for filling, which means it has to hold up. It can also be used as a base cream to make other creams, like crème légère or crème mousseline.

Simple Pastry Cream Ingredients

If you want to know what Crème Pâtissière is at its core, look no further than the simple ingredients. It’s essentially milk, eggs, and cornstarch, with a little help with flavor and sweetness:

  1. Milk
  2. Vanilla Pods
  3. Granulated Sugar
  4. Egg Yolks
  5. Cornstarch
  6. Butter

Crème Pâtissière in a glass bowl after using my pastry cream recipe.

The Best Milk For Pastry Cream

I’m going to be blunt here: Use full fat, whole milk for creamier pastry cream. You might want to experiment with other kinds of milk, but at the end of the day, it’s whole milk that’s going to give you the results you want, because let’s be real, fat = flavor.

Handling Your Eggs

First of all, please use large ones! Their yolks are bigger, which will lead to better results — and speaking of better results, you’ll want your egg yolks at room temperature. How you get there is up to you, but it’s easiest just to have the whole egg come to room temp before extracting the yolks (And please, save your egg whites! Think of how many meringues go un-made because someone didn’t keep their whites!), but if you want to separate them and then let them come to room temp while covered, go for it.

What You Need To Make Pastry Cream

How To Make Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

Honestly, I’m not sure why people aren’t filling more desserts with pastry cream as it’s really easy to make. Here’s how you do it (and get the full recipe, with measurements, down below):

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine your milk, vanilla pod, and seeds and ½ the sugar. Place this mixture over medium-low heat until it comes to a simmer — you do not want it to boil, so keep an eye on it!
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar.
  3. While whisking constantly, slowly pour ⅓ of the hot milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, until it has been incorporated. This way the eggs don’t become scrambled eggs when they meet the heat. Then, pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, for roughly 2-3 minutes or until it thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the vanilla pod and any lumps — nobody wants lumps in their cream-filled donuts, right?
  5. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent skin from forming and allow it to cool down before refrigerating for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 4 days.

A close up of my Crème Pâtissière recipe.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Pastry Cream

Here are the tips I’ve learned along the way for making this recipe successfully from start to finish.

  • Use full fat, whole milk for creamier pastry cream. Fat = Flavor
  • Flour is traditionally used as the thickener but cornstarch also works well and it is gluten-free
  • When baking it’s best to use large eggs
  • Straight after making, lay some cling wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent skin from forming
  • If you don’t have a vanilla pod then I recommend using vanilla bean paste so you get the seeds in there

Make More Creams, Frostings, and Sauces!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Simple Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

5 from 5 votes
My Simple Pastry Cream recipe, or Crème Pâtissière, comes together in no time and can be used to fill eclairs, donuts, cream puffs, & more!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 2 cups
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
My Simple Pastry Cream recipe, or Crème Pâtissière, comes together in no time and can be used to fill eclairs, donuts, cream puffs, & more!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (480 milliliters) whole milk
  • ½ vanilla pod (split lengthwise, seeds scraped out)
  • ½ cup (4oz/115g) granulated sugar (divided)
  • 4 large egg yolks (room temperature)
  • 4 level tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (1oz/28g) butter (cut into small pieces)

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, combine milk, vanilla pod, and seeds and ½ the sugar. Place over medium-low heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar.
  • While whisking constantly, slowly pour ⅓ of the hot milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, for roughly 2-3 minutes or until it thickens.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the vanilla pod and any lumps.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent skin from forming and allow it to cool down before refrigerating for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 4 days. Use to fill cream puffs, profiteroles, or pastry tarts.

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Jeni Veness
Jeni Veness
7 days ago

Can you freeze Crème Pâtissière ?

Lisa
Lisa
1 month ago

Is there any substitutes on for egg yolks?

Joanne
Joanne
1 month ago

Is there a lactose free alternative? Full fat coconut milk?

1 month ago

I have tried multiple recipes to attempt to find a cream filling that is up to the standard of my Aunt Jeanne! Today this recipe gave me that achievement ❤️ Thank-you Gemma and BBB!!

1 month ago

I love it!!! What if you don’t have a vanilla pod or can’t afford to buy them? Maybe use vanilla extract as a substitute?

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!