2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP butter (cut into bits at room temperature)
Heat milk in microwave or in a small saucepan (no need to bring to a boil, just get the milk pretty hot). Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and flour until thick and well-blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk—this will temper or warm the yolks so that they don’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly, making sure to get the sides. Bring to a boil, still whisking, until it thickens, about 1-2 minutes, then remove pan from the heat.
Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in vanilla and the bits of butter, stirring till they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl, then press a piece of plastic onto the surface of the cream (to keep a skin forming on top of the cream) and refrigerate until cold, or place it in a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water, stirring occasionally till thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes. Use within a week (do not freeze).
Have you ever had a recipe that you thought was perfect and couldn’t get any better? That was my pastry cream recipe that I’ve been using the past several years. I loved it and it turned out perfectly every time. Recently I found this recipe while reading Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book and fell in LOVE with it. It is so creamy and full of flavor. It mixes well and cooks five times faster than my old recipe. I’ve made this several times and it has been a success each time. I can’t say enough good things about it- it is easy to make and the taste is impressive.
This cream can be used for an éclair filling, a banana cream pie filling, or anything that calls for vanilla pudding. If you plan to use this pastry cream for Eclairs, save two of your egg whites for the puff pastry shells. Recipe adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.