We’re not going to be talking about me today.
All I’m going to say is that I’m going away tomorrow night. Just for a long weekend. To the beach. In the middle of winter.
I can’t wait!
And that I love pastry cream.
Yes, pastry cream. You can use it for SO many things.
It’s a pastry basic. It’s essentially a custard, and you can use it as a tart filling, inside danishes and brioche pastries, as the base of creme diplomat (pastry cream + whipped cream mixed together) and german buttercream, inside pies, as a layer in gateaux, and… well, if you’re anything like me, you can just eat it by the spoonful.
Don’t be scared of making it, okay? There’s just a few things you need to remember:
1. Mix your cornstarch with your sugar, really well, before whisking it into the egg yolks. Don’t forget! Or it will get all lumpy.
2. Whisk your hot milk to the egg yolk mixture slowly. SLOWLY. If you don’t, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Or more lumps. So go slow, ‘kay?
3. When you pour the custard back into the saucepan and return it to the heat, whisk. The entire time. Hard. Or you will, once again, have lumpy scramble. And lumpy, scrambled custard is no fun. For anyone.
Once you get all of this down, you can make this in 5 minutes flat. Easy!
- 1¼ cups milk (310ml, 11 oz)
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 egg yolks
- Mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. This will prevent the cornstarch from going lumpy later.
- In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Whisk the flour mixture to the egg yolks slowly, one tablespoon at a time. It will be thick and pasty. Set aside.
- Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds, putting them into the milk. Throw in the vanilla pod, too.
- Place the pan over a high heat and scald the milk – heat it until bubbles appear around the edges, but it is not boiling.
- Once the milk is scalded, remove from the heat and slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
- When all the milk incorporated, pour the custard back into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously until the mixture begins to thicken and comes to a boil.
- Once the mixture thickens and is just beginning to bubble, whisk vigorously (to prevent lumps from forming) for 10 seconds and then turn off the heat.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl (discarding the vanilla bean). Cover with plastic wrap, putting the plastic right onto the surface of the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold. Use as required. Makes 2 cups.
- Happy baking!
Adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour.