Crema Pasticcera (Italian Pastry Cream)

puff pastry cream

Also known as Creme Patissiere in France. It’s like a refined equivalent of home made pudding, but it’s also not that.

It’s a light cream that in Italy is often used to stuff croissants, pastries, cakes, beignes, and many one of my favorite desserts, fruit tarts.

I love that it’s light in consistency and tastes just oh so good. No butter for this recipe, just lots of flavor. If you have ever heard of pots de creme, this dessert is somewhat similar in a way. In fact my mom growing up would often place the remaining cream in a small bowl and let it cool in the refrigerator, to then let us eat it with a spoon. Think of it a little bit like a creme brulee or a flan. They just aren’t the same because they are all made with similar, but different ingredients and ratios of each ingredient.

This cream may seem complicated, but it’s very simple and this process will make it even simpler in a way because it’s fool proof. That’s right, while the traditional method is simpler, it’s often a little bit more risky because if not done right can make you wind up with a few clumps, that is the risk whenever making creams that require a little bit of baking and vigorous mixing in the process. But this method has a couple of tricks that will save you from having hard lumps in your sauce. As long as you stay by your stove and remember to mix your cream at all times!!!! That cannot be avoided.

I love using a wooden spoon or a whisk during the part where you’ll have to mix the sauce vigorously. This recipe reminds me why women in the kitchen can stay fit and develop amazing strong arms. Because this recipe will require some vigorous mixing, which will definitely build up your endurance for your shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Isn’t that amazing.

I used to whip whipping cream by hand as a child. I only did it a handful of times ,and once in our kitchen during culinary class. We did it just so we could see how much effort it actually used to take our ancestors to whip and make everything by hand.

puff pastry cream
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Crema Pasticcera

Creme Patissiere or Italian Cream Custard
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian

Equipment

  • Sifter
  • Pot
  • Metal bowl
  • Food measuring scale

Ingredients

  • 140 grams flour about 8 spoonfuls
  • 160 grams granulated sugar about 8 spoonfuls
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 liter milk 4.22 cups. We use rice milk for a dairy free excellent substitute
  • 1 stick vanilla
  • 1 zest of a lemon Optional, but excellent for fruit tarts and fruity desserts.

Instructions

  • In a medium size pot, begin by cracking open 4 eggs. Add the sugar and mix with a spoon until well incorporated. Next add the flour with a sifter. You will add the flour a little bit at a time while mixing fast and vigurously. Don't miss any spots, scrape the sides, and keep mixing until a smooth and thick cream has formed.
    In the mean time, in the microwave or stove, warm up the milk until it begins to boil. Then gradually add it to the sauce. Do it gently but mix very well to avoid any lumps from forming.
    Follow by adding the vanilla beans. You extract them by cracking open a vanilla bean stick, then with a knife or by hand, gently extract all the tiny black seeds and sprinkle them inside of the sauce.
    A wooden ladle will be great or use a whisk.
    Next up, time to warm up and cook the cream. Place the pot on the spot on medium heat. Stir the sauce and wait for it to start to warm up. This part will require patience. Gently and slowly you can stir making sure it doesn't stick to the sides or the bottom of the pan. The sauce is going to begin to thicken.
    You'll want to make sure you are scraping the sides so it doesn't adhere. If that begins to happen, do not roughly scrape it off. Because sometimes that part of the sauce is burnt and will be lumpy too. So if it sticks, no longer scrape it off.
    Keep mixing the rest of the sauce. Try not to miss out on any spots. Mix by going in circles and always mix in the same direction.
    Once the sauce will begin to boil, allow it to boil for a few minutes while stir stirring it. It will keep on thickening until it will reach it's consistency and remain at that consistency for a full minute. That is when you know your cream is ready. If the sauce begins to rise and is about to spill over, lower the heat just a little bit to medium-low.
    Once the sauce is ready, turn off the stove and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
    Proceed by adding the lemon zest and mixing it in well.

Notes

For a different spin on how to cook this dessert, try to pour the eggs, sugar, and flour in a metal bowl instead. Microwave the milk until it’s boiling. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boiling pot on the stove, rest the metal bowl on top, slowly keep mixing and watch the magic as your sauce will gradually thicken until it has reached it’s peak consistency and is ready. 

Recipe translated and adapted from one of my favorite modern cooks Here.

Love, M. Serena Essuman

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