Baking Basics Series: How to make pastry cream

Pastry Cream ~ This is a versatile custard that is sometimes used as a major component or as a base component to many desserts.

Mise en Place ~ Pastry Cream

As a major component, pastry cream, serves as a filling for cakes, tarts, pate choux like profiteroles/cream puffs, éclairs, cannolis and other pastries. As a base component it is used in ice creams and souffles.

Versatile and easy to make, pastry cream can also take on many flavors by a simple infusion from extracts, flavored liqueurs, fruit purees, or other add-ins like chocolate at the very last stage.

Easy to make but quick to go wrong, pastry cream is all about technique. The key is to not let the eggs curdle. To prevent this make sure to constantly whisk the mixture. As important is making sure the last step, the water bath, is prepped and ready to go. The water bath will help reduce the residual heat and stop the cooking process once the pastry cream reaches readiness.

Basic Pastry Cream Elements:

  • Basic Tools: Whisk, bowl, 2 saucepans, water bath (create one using a bowl, roasting pan or deep cake pan; just be sure to choose something large enough to hold ice and water as well as the saucepan used to make the pastry cream)
  • How to store pastry cream: Place plastic wrap directly on surface and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • How to re-heat pastry cream: Place pastry cream in a saucepan and bring it 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Properly made pastry cream should be able to hold its shape once cooled and appear thick and glossy almost pudding like in appearance.
  • Pastry cream uses: Cakes, tarts, profiteroles/cream puffs, éclairs, cannolis and other pastries; ice cream and soufflé base

Step-by-step to making pastry cream

Pastry Cream


  • 2 cup of whole milk
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Combine cornstarch and ½ cup milk and stir to dissolve. Beat whole eggs and yolks into corn mixture; set aside. Prepare an ice bath; set aside.
  2. Combine remaining milk with sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove sauce pan from heat and transfer mixture to a new pan to reduce any residual heat. Set aside and cool milk mixture for 5 minutes.
  3. Slowly add egg mixture into hot milk stirring constantly so the eggs do not curdle. Return mixture to stovetop and stir vigorously until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to stir until the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream, about 5-7 minutes. Once pastry cream reaches this stage, remove sauce pan from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Transfer the saucepan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until pastry cream is cool about 30 minutes.
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14 Responses to “Baking Basics Series: How to make pastry cream”

  1. #
    marla {family fresh cooking} — February 16, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    Naomi, thanks for sharing this technique with us. Love pastry cream!!


  2. #
    Caroline — February 16, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

    I’ve never made pastry cream before. Do you have any links to recipes in which you’ve incorporated pastry cream? Thanks Naomi!


  3. #
    Juliana — February 16, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

    Oh! I love pastry cream…and will definitely try your version…looks delicious. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe :-)


  4. #
    Prerna@IndianSimmer — February 16, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

    That’s such an important tip or tips!!


  5. #
    Eliana — February 16, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial :)


  6. #
    Lorie — February 17, 2011 @ 1:24 am

    Yum, yum Yum!!


  7. #
    Sara — February 17, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this. My husband loves all things with pastry cream and I can’t wait to try your tutorial out.


  8. #
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — February 17, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    Excellent tutorial! And beautifully articulated with those pictures.


  9. #
    Rosie @ Sweetapolita — February 18, 2011 @ 1:13 am

    Oooh! I probably don’t need to tell you that I love pastry cream! I don’t often make it, though, and I am going to give this a whirl. Thanks so much for the tutorial, Naomi!


  10. #
    Nancy@acommunaltable — February 18, 2011 @ 5:18 am

    Excellent tutorial – amazing that it isn’t as hard as you think it should be!!! I love making it – just wish my hips didn’t care so much!!!


  11. #
    DIane {} — February 18, 2011 @ 6:10 am

    Pastry cream is my absolute favorite thing! Well maybe I have a few others, but I really LOVE pastry cream. Looks delicious!


  12. #
    Quyen - Kitchen Runway — February 23, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    Thanks for sharing your technique! Can’t wait to try making pastry cream! Woothoo!


  13. #
    Leon — October 14, 2013 @ 3:09 am

    I love your blog and tutorials but personally I don’t see how it’s really necessary to dirty another bowl. Seems like it would work just as well without having to wash another pot :)


  14. #
    Dr. Tareq Z — September 24, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

    This tutorial is some cretical, if this is swon by video it might be better for student or user level,


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