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Italian Pastry Cream

This Italian Pastry Cream, is an easy creamy and rich vanilla flavored recipe. Made from scratch with simple ingredients. It is perfect for filling your favorite desserts such as cake, cookies pies and tarts! Careful before tasting it with a spoon, you might not stop!

Pastry cream in a grey bowl.


 

If you are a lover of Italian pastries or even cakes, then learning to make an Italian Vanilla Pastry cream is definitely a must. And not nearly as hard as you may think. And don’t stop at this classic, this Chocolate Pastry Cream and Coffee Pastry Cream are also must tries!

This Traditional Italian Pastry Cream Recipe, is easy but you must give it 100 percent of your attention. From start to finish you need approximately 20 minutes.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Milk – 2% or whole milk, I would not recommend skim milk
  • Cream – whole, whipping or heavy cream with at least 30% fat
  • Egg yolks – room temperature
  • Sugar – granulated or fine
  • Flour – all purpose flour is used as a thickener for the cream
  • Vanilla – you can use vanilla extract or even vanilla bean paste, many Italians like to use the vanilla pods.

What is fine sugar?

Fine or Caster sugar is slightly finer and dissolves more easily than regular granulated sugar. You can substitute it at a 1 for 1 basis or you can make your own fine sugar just by blending granulated sugar until fine.

What are room temperature eggs?

Eggs should not be left at normal room temperature (68F- 70F/ 20C – 21C) for more than two hours or if your house is warmer no more than one hour. This is according to the FDA.

A quicker way to achieve room temperature eggs is to place the eggs in the shell in a bowl of warm or very warm water (not boiling or very hot) for 5 minutes, make sure the water is covering them, and then you will have room temperature eggs.

The difference between Custard and Pastry Cream

The difference is basically the eggs, whole eggs are used in custard and just egg yolks in pastry cream also known as crème patissière. Pastry cream is the perfect filling for pastries, pies and cakes, such as a Fresh Fruit Flan or Pumpkin Pastry Cream Crostata.

Cream in a bowl and on a spoon.

How to make the Perfect Pastry Cream

In a medium pot, heat over low the milk and cream, do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool to warm. In a medium pot add yolks and sugar, whisk together until combined, then add the flour and vanilla.

Mixing the egg yolks, flour and sugar.

Place the pot over low / medium heat, slowly add the warm milk/cream mixture, whisking continuously until thickened, be sure to cook until thickened or you will have a runny pastry cream. It should have a silky texture.

The cream thickened in a silver pot.

With this recipe there is no need to strain it through a fine mesh strainer.

Pour the hot pastry cream into a heat resistant glass or ceramic bowl, cover the surface of the cream with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure wrap touches the cream mixture) and refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before using.

The pastry cream in a grey bowl.

To bring the chilled cream back to a creamy consistency, it’s a good idea to either use a hand beater or strongly whisk it before using.

The cream ready to use.

Tips for making the best Vanilla-Flavored Pastry Cream

  • When adding your hot milk/cream mixture make sure to let it cool a bit so that you don’t end up cooking the eggs.
  • The most important part? (the secret) Is to never stop stirring, this way you will have the perfect pastry cream without any lumps. Keep stirring until the pastry cream has thickened.
  • I find using a good whisk is the best way to get my Italian Pastry Cream perfect.
  • Then immediately place the hot cream in a glass or ceramic bowl, cover with plastic wrap, make sure the plastic is touching the pastry cream and refrigerate for at least a few hours before using.

Different ways to use Italian Pastry Cream

It makes a delicious filling for these Italian Cream Filled Pastries Pasticiotti  or even Layer Cakes, fresh fruit tarts or how about Bignè or cream puffs or even eclairs? Make sure you don’t start eating it with a spoon or you will end up having to make more!

Pastry cream in a bowl with a spoon beside it.

How long will Pastry Cream last in the Refrigerator?

The pastry cream will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to use fresh milk that has a longer expiry date.

Can it be frozen?

Never freeze pastry cream because it will never have the same creamy texture once it is thawed.

And if you have never tasted Italian Pastry Cream you must give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. Whatever you decide to fill with this Traditional Pastry Cream I certainly hope you enjoy it.

Cream in a blue bowl with a spoon.

More Recipes to make with Pastry Cream

Pastry cream in a bowl with a spoon beside it.

Italian Pastry Cream Recipe

Rosemary Molloy
Italian Pastry Cream a creamy delicious made from scratch Pastry Cream that is perfect for filling cakes, cookies, pies and other desserts. 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1.5 cups
Calories 1420 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

ITALIAN PASTRY CREAM WITH MILK AND CREAM (OUR FAVOURITE / PHOTOS/VIDEO)

  • ¾ cup milk (whole or 2%)
  • ¾ cup cream whipping/whole/heavy cream (at least 30% fat)
  • 4 large egg yolks room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar or fine sugar
  • tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

ITALIAN PASTRY CREAM WITH MILK

  • 1 cup milk (divided)
  • cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons flour (whisk in a small bowl)

Instructions
 

ITALIAN PASTRY CREAM WITH MILK AND CREAM

  • In a medium pot, heat over low the milk and cream to hot, do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool to warm.
  • In a medium pot whisk together the yolks and sugar, add the flour and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  • Place the pot over low / medium heat, slowly add the warm milk/cream mixture, whisking continuously until thickened, be sure to cook until thickened or you will have a runny pastry cream. It should have a silky texture.
  • Pour the hot pastry cream into a heat resistant glass or ceramic bowl, cover the surface of the cream with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure wrap touches the cream mixture) and refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before using.
  • To bring the chilled cream back to a creamy consistency, it’s a good idea to either use a hand beater or strongly whisk it before using.

ITALIAN PASTRY CREAM WITH MILK

  • In a medium pot add 3/4 cup milk and vanilla, heat on medium until milk just starts to boil, then remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a medium bowl add egg yolks and sugar, beat at medium-high speed until thick and creamy (approximately 5 minutes) slowly add 1/3 of the boiled cooled milk and continue beating, then slowly add the flour and continue beating until smooth.
  • Add egg mixture to the medium pot with remaining milk and cook over medium heat, continuously whisking briskly until mixture starts to boil, lower heat to medium/low and continue whisking while you slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup milk, once all the milk has been added remove from heat, transfer to a glass bowl and let cool completely. If not using immediately cover with plastic (make sure plastic touches the cream and refrigerate) Enjoy!

Notes

With this recipe there is no need to strain it through a fine mesh strainer.
The pastry cream will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to use fresh milk that has a longer expiry date.
Never freeze pastry cream because it will never have the same creamy texture once it is thawed.

Nutrition

Calories: 1420kcal | Carbohydrates: 130g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 91g | Saturated Fat: 51g | Cholesterol: 1044mg | Sodium: 182mg | Potassium: 453mg | Sugar: 109g | Vitamin A: 3960IU | Vitamin C: 1.1mg | Calcium: 416mg | Iron: 2.8mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Updated from January 8, 2016.

138 Comments

  1. I’ve tried this recipe and the chocolate version and they taste so yummy
    But can I make the chocolate version without cream? I hardly find cream in my local store
    And if I add strawberry jam into this vanila recipe will it turn well?

    1. Hi Miftahul, thanks so much, glad you like them. I have never made it with only milk, you can try you might need to add a bit more flour to thicken it. I don’t see why you couldn’t add some jam. Let me know how it goes.

    1. Hi Kathy, I have a hard copy cookbook https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/cookbook-authentic-italian-desserts/ and an ebook https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/pasta-recipes/ . Thanks for asking. Take care!

  2. How would the milk with cream recipe change if I want a chocolate flavor instead of vanilla? Use cocoa powder or melted chocolate?

    1. Hi David, here is my chocolate pastry cream recipe https://anitalianinmykitchen.com/chocolate-pastry-cream/. I use melted chocolate. Let me know how it goes. Take care!

  3. Help! Twice now, I’ve cooked the cream until it gets thick but still runny, and I continue to cook it, but it never gets any thicker! It hits a thickness plateau at around 5-6 minutes, and even if I go another 5-10, it bubbles but stays runny. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Peter, be sure to cook it on medium/low heat, stirring constantly, add 1/2 a tablespoon more of flour to see if that helps. Did you watch the video? Remember it does thicken once it cools down. Let me know.

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