Basic Pastry Cream

There are dozens, probably hundreds, of recipes for pastry cream, or, crème patissière. This is the simplest, borrowing from Little French Bakery. It need not be vanilla; you can use cardamom, saffron, just anything that is really fresh and good. (Vanilla extract, yuck).

As with all other recipes, the sugar amount is drastically reduced (and still tastes great for me!)


  • 500 ml milk
  • 4 yolks from large eggs
  • 30 gm sugar
  • 30 gm cornstarch/tapioca
  • 30 gm flour
  • 1 vanilla bean or a crushed pinch of saffron or whatever spices you like in dairy


  1. Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise through one side as if slicing a tube. Using the back side of the knife, slide it down the length of the exposed bean to scrape out the seeds. Remove seeds from vanilla bean.
  2. In a saucepan, add the milk, vanilla seeds, the bean pod and 1/2 of the sugar.
  3. Heat until you see steam and little bubbles.
  4. While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar in a large heat proof bowl. Then add the cornstarch and flour. Mixing completely.
  5. Remove the vanilla bean pod from the milk.
  6. Pour 1/2 or less of the warm milk into the bowl over the egg mixture and whisk until smooth.
  7. Increase the heat under the milk to a very slow boil.
  8. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan, whisking quickly and constantly until the mixture forms a smooth, glossy cream and the cream “burps” a bubble in the pan. You cannot take a break!
  9. Pour cream into a flat glass container and let it cool. Most people recommends putting a plastic film on the cream to prevent skin. I prefer to eat the skin than eating whatever chemical is leeched out of the plastic, BPA present or not. 

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