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Classic pastry cream

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Our creamy pastry cream is ideal for making cream puffs, profiteroles, tarts, cakes and many other delicious desserts. Can be made in only 15 minutes!

Pastry cream is a rich thick creamy custard made by heating milk, sugar, eggs, cornstarch and some flavouring. 

In only 15 minutes you can have a full bowl of delicious pastry cream you can use for filling cream puffs or eclairs, layer the cakes, fill the fruit tarts or doughnuts or make amazing vanilla slices. We like to make desserts with pastry cream and have a selection of recipes using it. Why not to check out classic cream puffs.

What we need for making classic pastry cream

Pastry cream is a delicious creamy custard and for making it we need following ingredients: 

  • MILK AND HEAVY CREAM: we used this combo to get richer cream but you can use also only whole milk - the result will be great

  • EGG YOLKS: they gives texture and richness to the cream as well as thickens the whole mixture

  • CASTER OR BROWN SUGAR: for sweetness and texture we used this kind of sugar, but it will work also with some brown sugar

  • CORNSTARCH: it plays role of thickening agent. Some recipes use combination a mix of flour and cornstrach or only flour, but we like to use only cornstarch to avoid floury taste of pastry cream.

  • LEMON ZEST: to add refreshing citrus flavour, we added some lemon peel to the milk when heated. This way the essential oils from the zest flavoured the milk.

  • VANILLA BEAN OR VANILLA BEAN PASTE: use either whole vanilla bean cutted with knife and scraped out the seed and cook in the milk. We used vanilla bean paste, which is also great - it has warm vanilla flavour and dark vanilla seeds which gives small dark spots in the cream.

How to make classic pastry cream

Making pastry cream is easy but you must follow some rules to get a perfect result. First it's important to have all the ingredients at room temperature. 

Heating milk/cream

The process start with combining milk and cream is a heavy-based saucepan and heating on a medium heat until it just start to simmer. Add also lemon peel and vanilla bean (if using one).

Whisking egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch

In the meantime, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a heatproof bowl. Once the milk is ready, remove the lemon peel and vanilla and start to tempering the eggs.

Tempering the egg mixture

Start pouring slowly the half of milk to the egg mixture while whisking all the time the mixture to temper the eggs.

Cooking the cream

Now, pour back the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, whisking vigorously with hand whisk. The cream should start to thicken in 1 - 2 minutes. Let the cream start to bubble then whisk again. Now it's time to remove the cream from the heat. To get smoother pastry cream, we suggest to pass through the fine sieve as soon as it is cooked. 

Cooling down pastry cream

Once the pastry cream is ready, it needs to be cooled down for using for desserts. Transfer the cream into a bowl then cover with cling film on the whole surface of the cream to prevent forming of skin. Place in the fridge until using.

Storing pastry cream

The best way to store pastry cream in an airtight container, with cling film or buttered baking paper placed directly on the surface, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Don't leave it at room temperature, as it contains eggs and butter. You can make a pastry cream ahead of time for your desserts.

Classic Pastry Cream

SERVES: 2 servings
COOKS IN: 15 minutes


  • 400ml (1 2/3 cup) whole milk
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream
  • lemon peel from 1 lemon
  • 4 large egg yolks, from the fridge
  • 55g (1/4 cup) caster (fine) sugar
  • 30g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
  • 1 whole vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste


  1. If using whole vanilla bean, halve it using a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds.

  2. Place the milk, heavy whipping cream, vanilla bean (if using) and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat, pick up lemon peel and vanilla bean from the milk.

  3. While the milk is heated, whisk together eggs yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a medium heatproof bowl, until you get a smooth texture without any lumps.

  4. Slowly pour about half of the milk mixture in a thin stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.
    As soon as the milk starts to bubble, remove it from the heat.  

  5. Return the egg mixture back to the pan and cook gently on a low heat, whisking constantly until it start to thickens - about 2 - 3 minutes. Once it thickens, continue to whisk, pausing every few seconds allowing the mixture to bubble for a while, then continue to whisk. This will take around 1 - 2 minutes.

  6. Remove from the heat and strain immediately the cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add vanilla bean paste at this moment if using. Cover the cream with cling film, pressing directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.

  7. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

  8. Serve in glass bowls or use for preparing desserts.

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