Pastry Cream Recipe

This pastry cream recipe will make a wonderful addition to any home baked pastry.

From "A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets"
April 2016

  • Pastry cream, better known as custard, is a popular choice among pastry fillings.
    Photo by Corina Daniela Obertas/Fotolia
  • In "A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets," author George Greenstein's expert instructions educates readers in making doughs for bundt, babka, strudel, gugelhopf, stollen, pressburger, puff pastry and Danish to create a jumping-off point for more than 200 variations of classic pastries, including napoleons, coffee cakes and sweet buns.
    Cover courtesy Ten Speed Press

Yield: 3 cups

Author George Greenstein has a gift for teaching home bakers to think, work and bake like the pros with his evocative and tactile descriptions of baking. In A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets (Ten Speed Press, 2015), he crafts master dough recipes for Jewish holiday baking and European classics, creating a comprehensive set of building blocks for both beginners and baking enthusiasts. The book also offers an in-depth guide to ingredients and equipment, including both professional and home ovens, as well as 40 basic recipes for fillings, icings, and glazes. With Greenstein's steady guidance and familiar voice, home bakers and professionals alike will be encouraged to turn out flawless pastry creations for any occasion.

Pastry Cream

Pastry cream, sometimes referred to as custard, is easy to make. Many pastry chefs and most Italian bakers thicken pastry cream with flour instead of cornstarch. I find that the taste of flour is present in the finished product, so I prefer cornstarch, which is bland and easier to work with. Prepare and measure the ingredients before beginning.

Pastry Cream Recipe


• 2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 milliliters) milk
• 1⁄4 cup (1 ounce/28 grams) cornstarch
• 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 1⁄2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
• Pinch of kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces/14 grams) unsalted butter
• 1⁄4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Pour 1-1⁄2 cups of the milk into a heavy saucepan over medium heat and heat until bubbles begin to form around the edge. Meanwhile, in a sepa­rate bowl, combine the remaining 1⁄2 cup milk and cornstarch and stir with a wire whisk until combined.

2. Stir eggs, 1⁄4 cup of the sugar, and salt into the cornstarch mixture.

3. When the heated milk is about to boil, mix about 1⁄2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the cold mixture and then slowly add it all back into the hot milk, stirring constantly. Stir thoroughly along the sides and bottom to prevent scorching. As the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking until you see the first sign of boiling. Cook for an additional minute, stirring all of the time.

4. Remove from the heat.

5. Immediately add the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar and the butter, mixing until dissolved.

6. Stir in the vanilla.

7. Cover and cool with plastic wrap touching the surface so that a skin does not form.

8. Chill thoroughly.

The pastry cream can be prepared 1 day in advance. Keep well chilled and covered. When cool, stir with a wire whisk to fluff it up before using.

More recipes from A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets:

Bienerstuck: German Coffee Cake Recipe
Bundt Dough Recipe
Cheese Danish Recipe
Country Polish Bread Recipe
Danish Pastry Dough Recipe

Reprinted with permission from A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets by George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein and Issac Bleicher and published by Ten Speed Press, 2015.

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