Pastry cream is one of those things that I hated as a kid. I was totally obsessed with these cinnamon danishes a local café made, only the cinnamon ones, because all the fruit ones had pastry cream in them, or as I called it as a kid “sweet mayo”. It was creamy, it was flavorless, and it was unessesary. Not into it.
And then I started working for pastry chef who made the most incredible blueberry tarts. Extraordinary blueberry tarts. They were made with the most beautiful wild blueberries, the softed shortbread crust, and the thinnest layer of the creamiest pastry cream known to man that had just had a hint of vanilla and lemon. It was a total revelation.
Now, pastry cream is a staple for me. They add a sophistication to tarts, to pies, to cookies. To danishes. The best part is that it is super easy to make. You can make it with cornstarch or flour, if you’re gluten free, and you can easily change the milk to coconut milk if you’re dairy free. If you want a bit of a caramel flavour, you can change the sugar to brown sugar. It’s a wonderful thing. Get into it!
(adapted from the Tartine Bakery)
2 cups Milk (or coconut milk)
½ cup Sugar (or brown sugar)
3 tbsp Flour or Cornstarch.
½ tsp Salt
½ Vanilla Bean, or 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
Zest of ½ a lemon
In a medium pot bring the milk, vanilla, and lemon to a simmer.
Meanwhile crack the eggs into a medium bowl. Mix with the sugar, and then add in the flour or cornstarch.
Slowly add in the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly, until it is all combined.
Pour this mixture back into the pot, and stirring constantly, cook over low heat until it has thickened consistently.
Strain into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.