Vanilla Custard Pastry Cream

Vanilla Custard Pastry Cream (crème anglaise) is a classic French custard to be eaten as a simple custard pudding or filling for cakes, tarts, pastries, and sweet pastries. The below recipe makes enough to fill about 12 small tarts, èclairs, cream puffs, fruit tarts, or breakfast pastries, or for filling for 2 layers of an 8 inch round cake. Pastry cream is a mixture of milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and is cooked on the stove top or baked. Traditionally pastry cream is made with a flavored milk (chocolate, Cointreau, rum, coffee, citrus zest or vanilla).  Pastry Cream is either stove top cooked or baked, depending on the desired dessert.


Vanilla Custard Pastry Cream

This is a multi-purpose custard. It can be used in a baked tart or cooked on the stove top for fillings for cakes, cream puffs, sweetbreads and more.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 3 cups
Calories 816 kcal
Author Laurie


Vanilla Custard Pastry Cream

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar caster sugar or fine sugar is best for quickly dissolving
  • 2 3/4 cups milk warmed
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch nutmeg


  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/3 c powder sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter chilled and chopped
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk


Tart Crust

  1. Grease six small tart/pie tins or one large pan. Process ۤflour, powder sugar and butter until mixture resembles ۤ breadcrumbs. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Process until dough just comes together. Shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thick. Line pans with pastry. Line pastry with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights and paper until pastry turns golden. Cool completely.

Pastry Cream Filling

  1. This Pastry Cream version is cooked on the stove top and is best for pudding or a filling. Pour the milk into a heavy bottom saucepan. Using the point of a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk, add the bean and bring to the boil.
  2. Beat the sugar and the egg yolks in a bowl until pale yellow, thick and creamy, then whisk in cornstarch. Pour back into a saucepan over moderate heat and cook, constantly whisking, until pastry cream simmers and thickens about 1 minute. Be sure to bring the mixture to a full boil to activate the cornstarch and ensure proper thickening. Continuous vigorous whisking of the hot custard is essential to prevent lumps. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, and stir ½ of the hot milk into the egg yolk-sugar-cornstarch mixture, and mix well to combine.
  3. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. If you are using vanilla extract, add it at the end of the cooking time. * Make sure to stir all of the ingredients in all parts of the saucepan to prevent the bottom from burning.
  4. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Transfer to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on surface, up to 3 days.
  5. *Note: To make chocolate custard cream, add 1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) melted, unsweetened chocolate along with the butter. For a richer chocolate flavor, add a little more.

Tart filling

  1. This version is best for a baked tart filling. Whisk eggs, vanilla, sugar, and milk together. Pour into pastry. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake for 35 minutes or until just set. Cool completely. Serve.
  2. Top the tart with fresh berries. You can make an apple tart with one apple thinly sliced, toss in a little cinnamon sugar and lemon juice. Top the tart before baking on top of the custard. Brush a little melted apricot or red currant jelly on top of the fruit of a shiny glaze.

Recipe Notes

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Nutrition Facts
Vanilla Custard Pastry Cream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 816 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 40%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 238mg 79%
Sodium 112mg 5%
Potassium 411mg 12%
Total Carbohydrates 126g 42%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 49g
Protein 19g 38%
Vitamin A 14%
Calcium 21%
Iron 22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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