Friday, October 30, 2009

Pastry Cream

Pastry Cream - October 30, 2009

One of the first things we were taught to make in culinary school was pastry cream. My CIA chef instructor said bakeries used this in many of their offerings and was one of their staples. It's pretty simple to make but there are techniques you should use to make it successfully. The original recipe below is straight from my CIA recipe book and yep, it's that sparse in instructions since we were shown how to do it and the recipe is pretty much the bare bones of how to make it.

I hadn't made pastry cream in years and I think I've lost the knack as when I was heating up the whole mixture, mine started clumping instead of thickening gradually. Fortunately, the baking gods invented strainers and I was able to strain mine into respectability. When you make this, whisk the sugar/cornstarch/eggs until blended then temper with the hot milk, meaning add the milk a little at a time, and whisking to incorporate the milk fully into the custard. When you put the whole thing back in the pan and heat to boiling, keep stirring it constantly. I think that was my mistake as I was trying to clean up and wash the dishes instead of keeping a constant stir of the mixture over the stove. But it still tasted pretty good to me. I'm not much of a pudding or custard-type dessert person but I'll make an exception for pastry cream. I can eat this thing like pudding. I made half of this recipe in order to use it for Basque Cake. Oh and when you've finishing making it, cover it with plastic wrap directly over the pastry cream itself, not over the rim of the bowl. This will prevent a skin from forming over the cream.

1 quart milk
8 ounces sugar
3 ounces cornstarch
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
Vanilla extract to taste
3 ounces butter

1. Heat milk.
2. Mix sugar and cornstarch, then add eggs.
3. Temper in milk.
4. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla.
5. Strain and cool.

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