I’m not sure where to start the creme patissiere conversation. Do I need to talk about what it is? Or should I start with what makes it different to custard? Or just dive straight in with all the wonderful things you can make with creme patissiere, a.k.a pastry cream and a.k.a. creme pat. I really don’t know where to start. I don’t want to sound patronising but I’m sure there are some people who have no idea what I’m talking about. So, I am going to talk like you have no idea what I am talking about, and those that do can skim the post until they reach the tips and the recipe. Sound good? Great.
Creme Patissiere is the posh French name for Pastry Cream, which is a fancy way of saying thick custard. Have you noticed that? Top chefs and cooks like to make these things sound luxurious, complicated, indulgent and something we can only dream of making. I mean, creme patissiere makes me think if those stunning French bakeries with the intricate cakes and desserts in the windows, compared to thick custard, which makes me think of dodgy school puddings. There is nothing luxurious sounding about thick custard. Creme Pat is a thick custard, one that sets, but it’s a bloody good thick custard. It’s a high end thick custard. It’s tastes better than what was served over your jam roly poly.
Maybe it’s just the french language, because even Creme Anglaise sounds better than custard, and creme Anglaise is simply the french term for English custard. So, what’s the difference between creme Anglaise and Patissiere? It’s cornflour. Yep, thats all the difference is. Custard is a runny, pouring sauce. It’s thicken by the egg yolks because the end result is only needed to be thicker than water but still pourable. Creme Patissiere is thicken with cornflour, as the require result is a thick custard that will set fairly firm. I have no idea why these things are made to sound more complicated than they are but they are. But, now you can sound incredibly professional when you talk about dessert being served with creme Anglaise or that your profiterole is filled with creme patissiere. Because, trust me, once they taste your custard, is any form, they will think you cook like a professional.
It has loads of uses. It can be used as a filling for profiteroles and chocolate eclairs, as well as the base in a fruit flan or tart, as well as the filling in a cream pie, or as the filling in Manchester Tart or as part of a trifle. I have even seen it used as the base for making ice cream. ( I think I might have to give this ago) Once you have made and tasted this, you will be finding plenty of desserts to use it in.
Let’s start with a ‘regular’ recipe as it’s naturally gluten free. This is the full on dairy version. My tops tips to a great tasting cream are:
Please don’t get fazed by looking at my suggestions above, it is possible for dairy free cream to taste just as good as the dairy version. Again, it comes down to the ingredients you use. My top tips are:
As I said above, please don’t think your going to get an inferior taste in your creme pat. It’s possible to get the same rich creamy silky taste without using eggs. It all comes down to your ingredient choices. My top tips are:
If you make this using rice or coconut milk and a runny single cream, swapping the vanilla bean and paste for extract and using your soft spread, you will get an inferior flavour. The best flavour comes from using the right ingredients.
The main things I hope you take away from this is that using the right ingredients and taking your time is the best ways to make a silky smooth creme pat.
If you want to learn more about using the right ingredients in your baking, check out, The Beginners Guide To Gluten Free or Vegan Baking Ingredients.
I talk a lot about a great recipe on it’s own doesn’t make a great cake it also needs the right ingredients and the right techniques. Creme Pat reinforces this. The recipe on it’s own would not be enough, to make it the best one you have ever made, you need to use the right ingredients and to follow the tips.
All thats left is for you to decide what dessert you want your creme pat to be part of. If you are looking to make a cream pie or a fruit tart and are going to be making a shortcrust pastry shell, check out my top tips before you go any further.
If you have more questions or would like to come and show off your fabulous creations, ( we love to look at everyone’s bakes) come and join our little baking club on Facebook.