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How to make Crema Pasticcera (Italian Pastry Cream)

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Today we will talk about and teach you how to make one of the basic ingredients used in Italian patisserie: the crema pasticcera, or pastry cream. 

It’s a creamy, velvety, custard-like cream that serves as the main filling for tarts, pastries, layered cakes, cornetti, bomboloni (Italian croissants and doughnuts) and many other delicious desserts that you can find in Italy, normally flavoured with vanilla, lemon, chocolate or coffee (see how to make these in the Notes/Top Tips section of this post).

A piece of Italian tart in the fork

If you think it’s difficult to make pastry cream, you will be surprised. It just takes a few steps t get right and time to perfect this ingredient, like using a round and thick bottomed pan, as it’s easier to whisk on it and don’t ever let the cream resting in the pan once you finished cooking, instead, transfer straight away to a bowl to cool down otherwise, it may stick to the bottom of your pan and burn.

This recipe yields around 3 cups of cream, enough to fill a cake, a tart, for example.

Let’s get cooking:

Watch how to make this recipe!

Cooking Time

  • Cooking: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Preparation: 40 minutes
  • Total time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Servings

  • 3 cups

Equipment

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Ingredients list

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch 
  • 1 large peel of an orange
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean for more flavour

Instructions

  1. Bring the milk, orange peel and vanilla over medium heat to just until warmed up and a little steam comes out of the pan. Remove from the heat immediately.
  2. To a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, egg yolks to combine, then add cornstarch and mix well.
  3. Remove the orange peel from the milk and pour slowly into the egg mixture, while whisking frequently with the help of a whisk to avoid lumps.
  4. Return the pastry cream back to the pan over low heat and stir frequently with a wooden or rubber spoon until the cream has thickened, for about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the cream into a shallow container and place a piece of cling film on top. Make sure the plastic is touching the cream to avoid hard skin forms. 
  6. Place in the fridge to cool until ready to use.
  7. Use the crema pasticcera as you want. Here’s our suggestion: Italian Fruit Tart
  8. When ready to serve, fill the crust with the cream and smooth with a spatula.
  9. Keep the dish always in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Top Tips

  • Don’t skip the cooling part, as it’s important for the cream to take form and change the texture to a silken yellow cream.
  • If you have a thick-bottomed round pan, use it, as it will help to whisk and cook the cream evenly.
  • Once cooked, transfer to a bowl immediately.
  • You can do variations of this cream by changing some ingredients, here are some examples: two coffee beans instead of vanilla, or two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder at the end of the preparation.

Slice of fruit tart

How long does Italian pastry cream last?

  • Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days, covered with a cling film or inside a pot with a lid.
  • Suitable for home freezing.

FAQs

Difference between Pastry Cream and other creams:

Creme Anglaise:

The Italian pastry cream is a thick consistency custard, that has this texture because of the addition of cornstarch to the recipe, that’s why it holds its shape, whereas the Creme Anglaise is a runny sauce.

Bavarian Cream:

The pastry cream and bavarian cream differs in ingredients, the base of pastry cream is egg yolk, cornstarch and milk, whereas the bavarian cream is made of gelatin, heavy cream and egg yolk.

Custard:

The two creams are very similar in texture and flavour, but the difference between custard and pastry cream is how it is served. Custards may be served warm, whereas pastry cream is mainly served cold as a filling for pastries.

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cooked italian pastry cream

How to make Crema Pasticcera (Italian Pastry Cream)

lucasgian
It’s a creamy, velvety, custard-like cream that serves as the main filling for tarts, pastries, layered cakes, cornetti, bomboloni (Italian croissants and doughnuts) and many other delicious desserts that you can find in Italy, normally flavoured with vanilla, lemon, chocolate or coffee.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 3 cups
Calories 70 kcal

Equipment

  • Cling film
  • Silicon spatula
  • Vanilla pods 

Ingredients
  

  • 6 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 large peel of orange
  • 2 1/2 cups wholemilk at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Bring the milk, orange peel and vanilla over medium heat just until warmed up and a little steam comes out of the pan. Remove from the heat immediately.
  • To a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, egg yolks to combine, then add cornstarch and mix well.
  • Remove the orange peel from the milk and pour slowly into the egg mixture, while whisking frequently with the help of a whisk to avoid lumps.
  • Return the pastry cream back to the pan over low heat and stir frequently with a wooden or rubber spoon until the cream has thickened, for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour the cream into a shallow container and place a piece of cling film on top. Make sure the plastic is touching the cream to avoid hard skin forms.
  • Place in the fridge to cool until ready to use.
  • Use the crema pasticcera as you want. Here’s our suggestion: Italian Fruit Tart
  • When ready to serve, fill the crust with the cream and smooth with a spatula.
  • Keep the dish always in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Notes

  • Don’t skip the cooling part, as it’s important for the cream to take form and change the texture to a silken yellow cream.
  • If you have a thick-bottomed round pan, use it, as it will help to whisk and cook the cream evenly.
  • Once cooked, transfer to a bowl immediately.
  • You can do variations of this cream by changing some ingredients, here are some examples: two coffee beans instead of vanilla, or two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder at the end of the preparation.
Keyword crema pasticcera, custard, filling, italian cream, italian dessert, pastry cream, vanilla cream

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