Frostings & Sauces/ Fundamentals/ Puddings & Custards

Creme Patissiere

February 9, 2015

This classic thick and creamy custard is commonly used as a filling for cakes, tarts, and pastries.

Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream) | prettysimplesweet.com

How many times in your life do you think you’ve actually had creme patissiere? If your answer is none, like mine was a few years ago, and if you’re a dessert freak, like I’ve been my whole life, then you may be wrong. Like I was.

Creme patissiere is such a basic and necessary component in the pastry world that you may not even know it’s been inside many of the desserts you eat on a regular basis. If you’ve ever had a cream puff, éclair, fruit tart, Boston cream pie, Napoleon or Danish pastry, then you most likely had a part of this pure joy called crème patissiere. If you haven’t tried any of them, then something is seriously wrong.

Creme patissiere – or in simple English, pastry cream – is a thick, creamy custard made of simple ingredients and usually flavored with vanilla. It is the base of many desserts, so once you have the custard ready, you have millions of options. You can add butter for creaminess, whipped cream for lightness, cream cheese, fruit puree, or almond cream, or any other flavoring you want such as chocolate, coffee, lemon, etc.

With its creamy texture, this custard is perfect as a filling for pastries. It’s also delicious for fruit or berry-based trifle desserts. In that case, though, I like to lighten it up with some soft whipped cream.

Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream) | prettysimplesweet.com

The process: Start with making the egg mixture. Whisk the eggs and sugar well until it’s creamy, thick, and pale, then whisk in the flour and cornstarch.

Heat the milk and vanilla together, bringing it just a boil. Once it boils, remove from the heat and discard the vanilla pod if using. Immediately pour the hot milk into the egg mixture; it’s important to do this slowly and in a steady stream, while simultaneously whisking the egg mixture. It’s not as complicated as it may sound, so don’t worry. If you find it hard, pour ½ of the milk, whisk until well combined, then repeat with the other ½.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat again gently on low-medium heat. From this point on, don’t stop whisking or else it may curdle. It will become thick quite fast and will start to boil. Once thick and boiling, keep whisking for about 30 seconds more before removing from the heat. Your custard is now done. Yay!

Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream) | prettysimplesweet.com

Notes and tips:

  • To make a creamier pastry cream, add a few pieces of room temperature butter while the custard is warm. Add a bit at a time, and whisk until well blended.
  • To make a light pastry cream, fold in 1/2 cup soft whipped cream (made by whisking heavy cream in your electric mixer with a bit of sugar until soft peaks form).
  • Add your favoring flavoring: 1-2 teaspoons instant coffee powder (heat together with the milk), lemon or orange zest, 60g/2 oz. of your favorite chocolate (whisk into the hot cream), or a few tablespoons of fruit puree (add once the custard has cooled).
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon alcohol of your choice to the warm custard: Grand Marinier, Limoncello, Kirsch, brandy, rum, etc.
Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream)
Yields: approximately 1 cup (450g)
 
This classic thick and creamy custard is commonly used as a filling for cakes, tarts, and pastries.
Ingredients
  • 3 large (60g) egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons (65g) granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons (15g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons (15g) cornstarch
  • 1¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar just until pale yellow and creamy, then whisk in cornstarch and flour. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, vanilla pod, and vanilla seeds on medium heat just to a boil. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while simultaneously whisking constantly until smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly and vigorously so that the eggs won’t curdle, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium heatproof bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent it from creating a ‘skin’. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
  4. Creme patissiere can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days. It does not freeze well. Whisk before using to get rid of any lumps.

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60 Comments

  • Reply
    Lisa
    July 19, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I made this recipe today to fill some homemade cream puffs, and it was incredibly delicious, I absolutely loved it! Will definitely make it more often, thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 20, 2015 at 3:51 am

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Lisa! I’m so glad you like it 🙂

      • Reply
        emiyl
        December 12, 2016 at 5:50 am

        Hi roughly how many profiteroles will this recipe fill?

        • Reply
          Shiran
          December 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

          Hi Emily, I’m not sure exactly how many, and it really depends on their size. If you plan to make a large batch of profiteroles, you should probably increase the amount of ingredients in this recipe.

  • Reply
    Lewis Groome
    October 9, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I put all the ingredients into a pot and whisked it until smooth and then put on medium low heat and whisked constantly for 25 minutes until thickened. I then removed from heat and added the vanilla extract and 4 tbs butter for flavor and extra creaminess. It was out of this world in flavor. I then put in the fridge over night and it turned out excellent!!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

      I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Geoff
    December 5, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Making this today for my wifes birthday cake. She loved the cakes from freemont Bakery but it closed years ago. I hope this is close , will let you know

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      This is a very classic recipe so I hope she loves it! Happy birthday! 🙂

  • Reply
    Nena
    December 27, 2015 at 3:40 am

    I used this recipe in a trifle I made for Christmas dinner. It was delicious. My family has been asking me for the recipe. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 28, 2015 at 4:53 am

      It warms my heart hearing that, Nena! Thank you so much for your comment. I hope you and your family had a great holiday!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    December 28, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Hi, Can heavy whipping cream be used in place of whole milk in this recipe?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Hi Lisa 🙂 Yes, you can – same amount. It would taste delicious, but with the milk it would be a bit lighter. You can also use a mix if you want.

  • Reply
    Linda
    January 2, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Hi! I just made this today, and I actually neeeded to add 1.5 tbsp extra of cornstarch after I put it in the fridge the first time. I didn’t time how long I cooked it, but it appeared pretty thick. When I cooked it the second time, I saw the difference. It is delicious though. Even when it wasn’t set.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 4, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Hi Linda! Next time try to cook it longer because the longer you cook it, the thicker it gets, and then give it enough time to chill until set. The consistency should be similar to cream, so it’s good for trifle or as tart filling, for example. I’m glad it was delicious, though 🙂

  • Reply
    Joan
    January 18, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Hi, could I use semi skimmed milk&I not full fat,

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 18, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Joan, I wouldn’t recommend it because the flavor won’t be as good and it would make the CP thin rather than thick and creamy.

  • Reply
    Joan
    January 19, 2016 at 6:10 am

    Ok thanks for that, will buy some full fat milk then.

  • Reply
    Heather
    January 21, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    This is the first time I made this. I’m letting it chill to room tempature now. So far it has turned out better then expected. I made this to fill some crepes I made the other day. I will let you know how everything turns out. Thank you so much for this recipie!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 22, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      I’m glad you like it! 🙂 and just so you know, it pairs perfectly with fresh fruit!

  • Reply
    Heather
    January 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    This was absolutely perfect. I’m making again later this week to bring to work. Thanks so much for this recipie! I’m going to try to add whipped cream this time to see how it turns out 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 30, 2016 at 6:32 am

      Thanks for letting me know, Heather! 🙂 That sounds like a good idea – the whipped cream makes it lighter and mousse-like.

  • Reply
    Beth
    April 5, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    If I wanted to add cream cheese, would I add it at the end in place of the butter? How much would you recommend adding? Thank you!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 6, 2016 at 6:04 am

      Hi Beth, it depends on what you want to make. Is it cheesecake mousse, tart filling? How strong do you want the flavor to be? Let me know and I’ll try to help.

  • Reply
    Maye
    April 12, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    I thought adding the butter to the pastry cream was creme mousseline 😮

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 14, 2016 at 3:34 am

      Hi Maye, you’re right, but there’s no butter in the recipe. I only mention it in my notes because I think it tastes much better with butter.

  • Reply
    gigi
    April 13, 2016 at 6:59 am

    Pls. let me know if this pastry cream is the same as the filling for portuguese custard tarts? Except that portuguese custard tarts are baked after filling them up with the egg custard?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 14, 2016 at 3:43 am

      Both are classic pastry cream so it’s very similar. Usually for the tarts the pastry cream would be a bit sweeter.

  • Reply
    gigi
    April 14, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Thanks Shiran. Wish u could post the portuguese tarts sometime.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

      I’ll add it to my list 🙂 but it’s a long list!

  • Reply
    Ana
    April 23, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Hi Shiran. I’m thinking of making this to sandwich together 2 sour cream/cherry ring/donut cakes, then decorate on top with chocolate glaze/decorations for my sons 18th birthday. Would the cream flavour work with the cake? Thank you.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 24, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Hi Ana, the cream flavor is subtle so it works well with many other flavors. Can you please explain further what kind of cake are you making?

  • Reply
    Ana
    April 24, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Hi Shiran. It’s a ring shaped cake (like a donut). I’m thinking of placing one on top of the other to give the cake some height & then decorate it. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 27, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Ana, I usually pair this pastry with a sponge cake and berries and it’s wonderful together. I think that it goes well with vanilla cake and fresh fruit. It would make a thin layer because it’s not as thick as buttercream. Just make sure to chill it long enough so it would firm up.

  • Reply
    Angela
    May 30, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Shiran how long could you keep this for? I am going to make it for an afternoon tea on 18th June to put in mini fruit tarts and wandered if it could be made a couple of days in advance.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      May 30, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Angela, creme patissiere keeps well for 3 days in the fridge, so yes, you can cover it and refrigerate for a couple of days, then use it for your tarts. Make sure to whisk it before using until smooth.

  • Reply
    Firefly
    July 7, 2016 at 5:49 am

    For my birthday (July 6th) I made a white cake, used this cream for a filling and your chocolate ganache recipe to glaze it with. It turned out wonderful and they both worked with the cake so well! After a night in the fridge, this cream actually made it even moister. The cream itself tastes amazing as well! I’d definitely make it again as an individual dessert!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 7, 2016 at 5:56 am

      I’m so glad to hear that! I like using it as a filling for cake with fresh raspberries. Thank you so much for your comment, and happy birthday! 🙂

  • Reply
    Eliza
    August 24, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Hi, I am just wondering if this could be made without the cornstarch?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 25, 2016 at 4:53 am

      Hi Eliza, I prefer using both flour and cornstarch, but you can use only flour (replace the cornstarch with flour).

  • Reply
    DAVID
    September 16, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Hi Shiran, I just ran across this recipe and it looks like just what I was looking for. Just a couple of substitution questions: Can I use 1/2 and 1/2 instead of milk? What effect would it have? Also my milk is never whole but 1%or 2% thanks to my wife. Would that be better than the 1/2 and 1/2?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 19, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Hi David. It’s ok to use half and half. The pastry cream would be more rich, and taste delicious. It’s better than low fat milk, which I don’t recommend using.

      • Reply
        David
        September 19, 2016 at 10:24 am

        Thank you. I plan to use it in a trifle and it certainly seems better than vanilla pudding.

  • Reply
    Netia
    September 19, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Shiran,

    I was wondering if the PC was firm enough to fill a 2 or 3 layer cake? Thank you 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 21, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Hi Netia 🙂 Pastry cream pairs well with vanilla cake and fresh fruit. It’s not firm, so here’s what I usually do; I make another frosting to frost the entire cake and use this frosting to create a border on top of each layer, then fill it with the pastry cream. I do the same when using lemon curd, so it won’t leak.

  • Reply
    Carine
    October 4, 2016 at 2:28 am

    Hi there! I do not have heavy cream. Is it alright to use whipped cream made out of whipping cream instead?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 5, 2016 at 6:03 am

      Yes, that’s ok!

  • Reply
    Andrea
    December 14, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    If I don’t add cornstarch, will that change the consistency of the filling drastically?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 15, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Hi Andrea, I like using both flour and cornstarch for the best result, but you can use only flour, just replace the cornstarch with flour.

  • Reply
    Leisa
    December 23, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Shiran. Once cooled, would this cream be thick enough to pipe into brandy snaps? Thank you 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 24, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      It is a bit soft but if the brandy snaps aren’t too thick, it should be ok. It would be better if you add whipped cream (read my second note in the post above) and chill the pastry cream before filling.

  • Reply
    Beth
    January 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

    This looks perfect for the Boston cream pie cupcakes I am going to make! Do you think I could replace the cornstarch and/or the flour with arrowroot?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 25, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Hi Beth, I’m guessing you can but since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say for sure. It might be better to look for a recipe that’s using it.

  • Reply
    Pam
    April 21, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Shiran!
    I’m making a 2 layer white cake (topped with fresh blueberries) and am going to fill it with your custard recipe (adding 1/2 cup of fresh whipped cream.) My question is can I omit the flour/cornstarch and replace it with an extra yolk? Thank you for your recipes and your reply!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 23, 2017 at 5:22 am

      Thank you Pam! The binding agent in pastry cream is flour/cornstarch and what thickens the custard, so I don’t recommend skipping it. Additional eggs may act as a thickener, but the result won’t be the same.

  • Reply
    Kao
    June 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Shiran, the custard recipe looks very good. If I wanted to add cream cheese to the custard, what would be the procedure?
    As for the coffee powder or matcha powder, should I add the powder during step 2 (heat together with milk and vanilla)?
    The filling will be for cream puff. Thanks very much!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 3, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Kao. If you want to add cream cheese, let the pastry cream cool to room temperature, and only then whisk in the cheese. If you are making cheese mousse and would like to add whipped cream as well, fold it into the mixture after you add the cream cheese. As for the powder, it depends which powder but generally yes, you need to add it to the milk.

  • Reply
    Beth
    June 8, 2017 at 1:48 am

    Hi Shiran,

    I’m making choux puffs and am planning to make a basil and asiago creme pat to fill them. I need it to be extra thick in consistency(cooking longer and maybe more cornstarch) and am thinking of adding whipped cream to make it lighter-but I’m worried the cream would make it too sweet. Also, I am unsure at what point to add the basil and asiago(the cheese needs to melt so i was thinking with the milk?) Advice would be much appreciated, thank you so much!

    Also, for vanilla extract, is that fine to be added with the milk or should it be added at a later stage?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 19, 2017 at 4:35 am

      Hi Beth, definitely add whipped cream to make it lighter, it won’t be too sweet. Add the basil with the milk for the best flavor, then later remove the basil leaves. Add the cheese at the end (but before adding the whipped cream), while the mixture is still warm, so it would melt. Add the vanilla extract with the milk. Good luck!

  • Reply
    teri
    June 17, 2017 at 12:32 am

    hi:) I made my custard, but want to blend it with my IMBC….is that do able…or can I only mix the custard with whipped cream?…thanks for any help, teri

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 19, 2017 at 4:26 am

      Hi Teri, I haven’t tried mixing it with buttercream, but for vanilla buttercream, I just add vanilla extract. For creamy pastry cream, I like to add some butter add whipped cream.

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