Crème Pâtissière

Chances are you have heard of crème pâtissière, if not by this name maybe confectioners custard or just plain old pastry cream. If you haven’t heard of it before you may have already tried it without ever really knowing! 

Crème pâtissière, one of the key components in the pastry world and is used as a foundation on which many other creams and fillings are made. If you have ever had a profiterole, éclair, danish pastry, galette de rois, mille-feuille, or fruit tart, you have probably already sampled the delights of this rich pastry cream!

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Crème pâtissière is a thick rich creamy custard, usually flavoured with vanilla, that can be used as a base and a filling for many desserts. If you equip yourself with this recipe, you have just opened up your world to millions of dessert options.

This pastry cream is endlessly versatile you can add butter, cream, meringue, chocolate, coffee, zests, alcohols, (the list goes on and on) to create a myriad of custardy concoctions! If you can think of it, you can probably make it work with crème pâtissière.

Unlike a standard custard, this one is not thickened by eggs alone. With the addition of starch, usually in the form of flour or cornflour, we can achieve a thick, stable, full bodied crème pâtissière.

In this recipe I use either flour or Bird’s custard powder depending on the intended use of our pastry cream. I can already hear the gasps and the outrage at the sheer mention of custard powder! But just hear me out before you jump ship!

When I plan on using the crème pâtissière for filling or mixing with another ingredient I stick to plain flour for thickening. This give me a lovely light coloured crème pâtissière, which is delicious but falls short when it comes to a visual impact. This often not a problem when hidden away as a filling in some sort of pastry delight!

If I am using the custard for decorating, like for the top of a tart, I use custard powder. I just find the custard powder gives the crème pâtissière a fantastic vibrant colour, which really stands out, making it ideal for presentation.

Consider it more as an ingredient that will enhance a fantastic recipe, not as means to actually make a good custard. I can assure you a good custard can not come from custard powder alone.

Watch the video, then try the recipe and see what you think, you might be surprised!

— Al Brady