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How to thicken pastry cream?

bakerslove Apr 27, 2012 10:58 AM

I made pastry cream to fill Eclairs last night and its a bit more pourable then pudding like. How do i thicken it? I really don't want to start all over. Should i just put it on the stove again? or in the freezer?

  1. k
    KSlink Apr 27, 2012 11:08 AM

    1 qt milk
    4 oz.sugar
    4 egg yolks
    2 whole eggs
    2.5 oz. cornstarch
    4 oz. sugar
    2 oz. . butter
    1 T. vanilla

    1. Hank Hanover Apr 27, 2012 11:13 AM

      Most people use corn starch. about 2 tablespoons per cup of liquid. If you want it thick enough to slice like with a French tart, you will need more.

      Some people even use more than 1 kind of starch. Here is a recipe from a well known pastry chef for Pastry cream. He has a lot of thickener.

      French Pastry Cream (Crème Patissiere)

      Makes 1 pound 8 ounces or 2 2/3 cups

      1 ½ Cups Milk
      1 ¼ ounces (1/4 Cup) Flour
      1 ¼ ounces (3 Tablespoons) Potato Starch
      2 Large Egg Yolks
      2 Large Eggs
      5 ¼ ounces (3/4 Cup) Sugar
      2 ½ ounces (1/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon) Unsalted Butter, softened
      ½ Vanilla Bean

      8 Teaspoons (2 Tablespoons + 2 Teaspoons) Flour/Cup of Milk
      6 Teaspoons (2 Tablespoons) Potato Starch/Cup of Milk
      1 1/3 Ounces (2) Egg Yolks/Cup of Milk
      1 ½ Ounces (1 1/3) Egg Whites/Cup of Milk
      3.5 Ounces (1/2 Cup Sugar/Cup of Milk
      1 2/3 Ounces (2 Tablespoons + 2 Teaspoons) Butter/Cup of Milk

      Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into the milk. Add the pod to the milk as well. Bring to a simmer.
      Sift the flour and the potato starch together onto a sheet of wax paper. Combine the eggs, yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth and pale yellow. Whisk in the flour and starch. Pour in about half of the hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture back into the pan and stir until blended and smooth (Tempering).
      Bring the pastry cream to a boil, stirring constantly, over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and stir constantly for about 3 minutes until very thick and smooth and the flour taste has been cooked out.
      Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve and stir in ¼ cup of the butter. Rub the remaining 1 Tablespoon of butter over the surface of the cream to prevent skin formation. Let cool to room temperature.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Hank Hanover
        paulj Apr 27, 2012 11:39 AM

        The question isn't how to make it, but whether a batch that is already made can be thickened further. If it was just a sauce thickened with a starch, reheating, and adding the appropriate slurry should work. But this is an egg custard that is stabilized with starch. If the choice is between fixing this, and making a new batch, you might try reheating it and adding a cornstarch slurry. But that might also ruin it. Or just keep it cold (but not frozen).

      2. todao Apr 27, 2012 01:01 PM

        Any starch, corn starch, flour, etc. will act as a thickening agent but, for desserts, your best choice for a thickening agent would be egg yolks. Depending on the quantity you have made, add egg yolks and mix thoroughly, then heat over medium/low heat with constant stirring. You could have an extra egg yolk or two standing by which you could add a little at a time (tempering first, of course) until you achieve the consistency you're wanting.

        1. chowser Apr 27, 2012 01:48 PM

          Whip cream thick and carefully fold it together.

          1. chefj Apr 27, 2012 04:22 PM

            You can put it on the stove again, but be careful bringing back up to temp. Stir with a Rubber or wooden spatula making sure that it does not scorch. Also mix what ever starch you are using into the cold Crème thoroughly before heating or diluted with cold milk or water to add when it reaches a bare simmer.
            Remember if you are using flour or cornstarch it must reach a simmer to thicken.

            1. b
              bakerslove Apr 28, 2012 11:21 AM

              I was wondering if anyone here could clarify these directions. I'm remaking this recipe tonight ( Third time, no less. ) and i'd really like to get it this time. The first time it didn't thicken at all, the third time it thickened but not to the pudding consistence i thought it would...In the directions at this site http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2009/08... it says "Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds." Do i take it off as soon as it bubbles, or wait thirty seconds? The second time around i let a few bubbles burst and took it off right away.. so do you think they ment wait thirty seconds?

              2 Replies
              1. re: bakerslove
                chefj Apr 28, 2012 12:50 PM

                she seems to be estimating that it will take 30sec. to reach a boil. ignore the 30sec. and just bring it to a boil.
                Here is Martha"s recipe tested and better method explanation

                1. re: bakerslove
                  paulj Apr 28, 2012 01:04 PM

                  I wonder the intent is cook it 30 seconds after the bubbles start to burst.

                  It sounds as though you are not cooking it long enough, or rather it isn't getting hot enough. I wonder if there are some better instructions, maybe an online video. The first time I made I followed Bittman's instructions and had no problem with it getting thick enough. As with any custard you don't want to overcook it, but with the starch addition it isn't nearly as sensitive to this as creme anglaise

                2. b
                  bakerslove Apr 28, 2012 04:17 PM

                  Martha's recipe requires quite alot of eggs! I've already bought two dozen eggs ( long story..) in the past two days and can't afford to buy another two at the moment. Has anyone tried http://www.joyofbaking.com/PastryCrea... recipe? How does it taste? Outcome? She shows a video but i'm feeling a bit iffy with the addition of flour. Wouldn't that throw off the taste? I like that it shows a video, less likely to screw up! Sorry, i recently picked up baking in the last few months and don't really know the ins and outs quite yet!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: bakerslove
                    maxie Apr 28, 2012 04:55 PM

                    I think the problem is the technique -- you aren't cooking it long enough. For "pudding" consistency, you need to cook it for 2 minutes while whisking constantly once you bring it to a simmer. It helps to develop the flavor and cooks off the starchy taste. Haven't check if it is available on line, but Jacques Torres' is excellent

                    1. re: bakerslove
                      maxie Apr 28, 2012 04:59 PM

                      You don't need the donught part, but the pastry cream is included. http://leitesculinaria.com/3697/recip...

                      1. re: bakerslove
                        chefj Apr 28, 2012 05:05 PM

                        Flour is fine for texture and flavor but as Maxie said you need to gently simmer for a couple of minuets to get rid of the raw flavor and completely gelatinize the starch.
                        As for "a lot of eggs" Pastry cream recipes are all over the board, extra egg yolks add flavor, richness and thickening.
                        J.T's recipe
                        2eggs 2yolks 4.5oz sugar .9oz pastry flour .8oz corn starch 17.6oz milk

                        1. re: bakerslove
                          paulj Apr 28, 2012 09:29 PM

                          From Bittman
                          proportions: 2T each flour, cornstarch, 2 eggs, 2c dairy

                          skipping the mixing details

                          "Then stir almost constantly until the mixture boils and thickens, about 10 minutes. Continue to cook until the mixture coats the back of spoon". This is the standard bit about drawing finger across the coating, and the line holds it shapes.

                          1. re: paulj
                            paulj Apr 29, 2012 09:13 AM


                            has the relatively simple Bittman recipe.

                        2. paulj Apr 29, 2012 09:08 AM

                          Another pastry cream thread from a year ago


                          1. b
                            bakerslove May 1, 2012 12:44 PM

                            Is bittman's recipe any good? worth trying? i'd love some feedback from people who have tried the recipe before.

                            1. v
                              vircabutar May 21, 2012 08:10 PM

                              Check out Gordon Ramsay's recipe on youtube (he has a video on passion fruit souffles). It works every single time! However, note that the pastry cream MUST be brought to full boil for ~ 5 seconds until it is dollop-y thick. The flour will protect the eggs from curdling, so dont worry....just dont be too excited with whisking as this might break the starch cells and make it go runny. G'luck

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