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pastry cream help! I runied at least 1

CuDavid's picture

Hi, to all, Happy T day! I am working from a Dorie Greenspan recipe, heat cream/ milk, w/ vanilla, set aside, wip egg yolks, corn starch, sugar, then add heat slowly add hot milk mix, wip continous, bring to a boil and wisk 1 to 2 minutes, then press thru a sieve.  My first batch looked like scrambled eggs, before it reached boil and became  became very thick, I could not get thru the fine mesh strainer they told me to use eariler in recipe . (they said set up bowl of ice water, fine strainer in prep of creame.) so 1 place they say fine strainer, next they say sieve, and press thru? The only way to press the thick mass I made thru would be w/ a china hat and the wood plunger! Instead I dumped it started over, used a thermometer and at 166 degrees it started thickeneing FAST! I quickly used strainer and rubber spatula to push thru stariner, It looks ok, tastes ok, but will i be thick enoiugh when cooled? Please tell me where I went wrong and where I went right,

Thanks, Dave

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #30091, reply #1 of 6)

Sounds like my luck with puddings and cream pies, lol.

I'm not sure, but it sounds like your cooking temp is too high. I really am not experienced, so I'm not sure, but I made a similar recipe today for a cream pie. The technique was slightly different (the eggs and milk are mixed cold, then brought to temp), but I think it helped me. I did a recipe very similar to yours last week and it never thickened, b/c I didn't cook the eggs long enough.

It sounds like the eggs were colder than the hot milk mixture, and they curdled.

The recipe I used today is the same ingredients, but totally different technique. I don't know if the technique makes the difference between pastry cream and pudding, but anyway, what the recipe I used does is this:

Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt (a pinch in my recipe) together in a medium sauce pan.

Slowly add milk, while stirring constantly. (No heat at this point)

Add beaten egg yolks.

Stir constantly over medium heat until thick. Pull off heat and scrape down sides and whisk until smooth. (This took about 15 mintues, and I stirred constantly and didn't have to whisk much.)

Cook for an additional 1 minute, whisking constantly.

Add butter and vanilla (and chocolate in my case).

Stir until melted.

That was it.

I guess heating the eggs and milk together totally prevents the curdling, but I'm not sure how the finsished product would differ. I'm thinking not much, since in my (limited) experience, pastry cream has always seemed like a very milky-tasty (not quite vanilla flavor), thinner than pudding-in-a-dish pudding. But, I'm no expert. Just a fellow amatuer learning the vagaries of eggs!


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Gary's picture

(post #30091, reply #2 of 6)

This may be an easier recipe.  Came from my pastry instructor.


Pastry cream


milk 3 1/2 cup

sugar 6 oz

salt 1 tsp

plain gelatin 1/4 oz

butter 1 oz



milk 1/2 cup

cornstarch 1 1/2 oz

egg yolks 3

 vanilla 1 tsp

Dry blend sugar salt and gelatin. Add to milk and stir, then add butter.  Bring to boil.

Dissolve corn starch in remaining milk.  Whisk in egg yolks.


Add yolk/slurry mix directly into the boiling milk. Whisk constantly and return mixture to boil.

Remove from heat, add vanilla, and continue to stir for a few moments to dissipate heat.

Transfer to storage container, sprinkle with some granulated sugar (prevents skin formation), refrigerate.

Edited 11/24/2004 9:34 pm ET by Gary

The people who gave us golf and called it a game are the same people who gave us bag pipes and called it music and haggis and called it food.

meljanbil's picture

(post #30091, reply #3 of 6)

When I make pastry cream I heat the milk/cream then gradually stir a bit into a room temp egg yolk mixture.  I then mix the egg yolk mixture that has now been warmed with the milk back into the remaining milk.  I heat till starting to thicken then pour through sieve.  Stir, stir, stir.  Did that make any sense?

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #30091, reply #4 of 6)

Not sure what you did, but this works:

Lenotre Pastry Cream #37669

by MEAN CHEF | my other recipes | e-mail me


— Aug 19, 2002

cups milk

vanilla beans, split and scraped

egg yolks

cup sugar

tablespoons flour

tablespoons cornstarch

tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Bring milk and vanilla bean to a simmer.

Meanwhile combine sugar, flour and cornstarch in bowl.

Whisk until smooth.

Add yolks and whisk until lump free and smooth.

Temper egg mixture with milk.

Pour egg mixture back into milk.

Cook over medium low heat stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.

Boil for 1 minute.

Off heat stir in butter.


Press plastic on top of cream to prevent skin from forming.

Chill thoroughly.

Edited 11/24/2004 11:40 pm ET by MEAN CHEF

CuDavid's picture

(post #30091, reply #5 of 6)

Thanks to all, MC recipe is close to mine, but 1/3 c corn startch, no flour. I did temper the egg yolk, sugar mix, I did not cook the yolks, I added the hot milk slowly while wisking. I KNOW I did something wrong. perhaps MC or ? could offer  suggestions as how thick it should be before straining, and how thick after cooling my first batch resembled cold , day old dravey, almost eggs/ jello!, my second was like pancake mix when I poured. it set up, but now the batch i saved is like pudding. Is this too thin or thick? last, can I freeze leftover?, as the reciped only needed a small amount after all this!

happy T day to all, Dave

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #30091, reply #6 of 6)

It should be thick.  Straining will take effort and some pushing.  Once cool it is like pudding.

As soon as you start to work with it (the more you push it around ) the softer it will get.  If you want to soften a lot, twirl it in a mixer with a paddle or whisk a bit.

The application will dictate how stiff it should be.  If you are going to use it between cake layers, you will want it as stiff as possible.