Pastry Cream

Pastry cream is the made-from-scratch version of the canned Bavarian cream gunk you find in doughnuts and eclairs from inexpensive neighborhood bakeries. In more polished bakeries, pastry cream supplants bavarian creme. It’s used for things like ice box pies. Pastry cream is not difficult to make, except in one particular: it must be cooled very rapidly after you’re finished making it, because it’s highly prone to bacteria-caused spoilage. Follow Step Three to the letter.

  • 1 quart milk
  • 4 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 cup sugar

1. In a bowl, dissolve the cornstarch into 1 cup of milk. Beat the eggs and stir into the milk-cornstarch mixture. Stir in the vanilla.

2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the remaining milk with the butter and sugar and bring it to a boil.

3. Whisk the reserved cornstarch-milk-egg mixture into the boiling milk. Continue whisking energetically until it returns to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat, and keep whisking for another minute.

4. It is very important to cool the mixture as rapidly as possible. The best method is to spread it out on a clean metal sheet pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it into the coldest part of the refrigerator. Keep refrigerated until ready to use, but don’t freeze it.

Makes about a quart.

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