Make perfect Crema Pasticcera every time! This rich, smooth and creamy pasty cream is a perfect filling for croissants, profiteroles, pandoro and many other pastries.
Crema Pasticcera is a rich, smooth and creamy custard, ideal for filling profiteroles, croissants, brioche, and fruit tarts. In fact it is so delicious you might want to eat it with a spoon!
A good family friend recently came back from Italy carrying cakes (thank you Sarah!), amongst them a delicious pandoro.
Pandoro is a sweet Italian ‘golden bread’ which looks most appealing sliced horizontally to make star shapes, but more importantly, it goes very well with crema pasticcera.
If you want to make this pandoro & crema cake, cut a pandoro horizontally across the lower third of the cake to make a thick slice. Then carve out the shape of a star from the middle and fill with the crema and berries.
Pandoro & crema cake is delicious with coffee or tea, and makes a stunning dessert!
This recipe to make crema pasticcera is quick and easy. I usually make it in advance as it tastes so much better after it has rested for a few hours.
You will only need 6 ingredients and as it uses rice flour, this crema is gluten-free. Follow these tips for a delicious thick, smooth and creamy crema pasticcera every time!
Here are some tips for a richly flavoured and good textured crema pasticcera:
- use fresh eggs, as they tend to loose their thickening properties as they become old.
- whole milk (for the higher fat content), and vanilla beans or a good quality vanilla extract/paste.
- pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture to temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.
- do not leave the custard to simmer, stirring is what gives its smooth consistency.
- the custard is considered ‘done’ when it has thickened to coat the back of a wooden spoon
- the custard is transferred to a chilled bowl to cool and stop it from thickening further
Your questions answered
Tempering eggs is the process of warming raw eggs slowly, so they mix smoothly and do not scramble when combined with a warm mixture.
Crema pasticcera can be made using cornstarch/cornflour, potato starch or rice flour. I prefer to use rice flour as the flavour is less distinguishable and it does not leave an aftertaste.
I love the freshness of the lemon zest and the combination with vanilla, but you might find any of these a better fit for your dessert:
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa and 1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour the crema pasticcera into a glass bowl and cover with a plastic film directly on top of the custard so it doesn’t form a skin. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
The crema will be firm when it is removed from the fridge, so whisk before using to return it to its creamy consistency.
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Crema Pasticcera – Italian Custard
- 500 g whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/paste or 1 vanilla pod*
- ½ tablespoon lemon zest unwaxed lemon
- 5 large egg yolks
- 120 g sugar
- 40 g rice flour or cornstarch/cornflour
- Place a medium size glass bowl in the freezer to chill.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk with vanilla and lemon zest till you see steam rising. Then using a sieve strain away the zest and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk the yolks and sugar, then add the rice flour and whisk till smooth and creamy.
- Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture**, stirring constantly. Once fully combined, place the saucepan on medium-low heat and continue stirring ensuring nothing sticks to the bottom or sides. Keep stirring till it thickens (around 5 minutes), then remove from the heat.
- Pour the custard into the chilled bowl and whisk quickly to cool it down. Place plastic film directly over the custard to prevent a skin from forming and leave on the counter to cool. Once cool, place in the fridge and use within 2 days.
- This is a great make ahead recipe as the custard tastes even better after resting.
- Use whole milk and fresh eggs for best results.
- Zest half a lemon using a microplane or grater, taking care not to grate the bitter white pith.
- *If using a vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add the pod and seeds to the milk.
- Variations – instead of lemon and vanilla, add 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 tablespoon orange zest, or ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Instead of rice flour, you could use the same amount of cornstarch/cornflour or potato starch/potato flour.
- **Pour the milk slowly into the egg mixture while whisking, to temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.
- Cover with plastic film, laying it directly on top of the custard so it doesn’t form a skin, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Straight out of the fridge, the custard will be firm so before using, whisk the custard to a soft and smooth consistency.