To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact


How to Make Chef Dominique Ansel’s Pastry Cream

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: May 28, 2020 • 3 min read

Learn how to make this French pâtissière staple with an easy recipe from pastry chef Dominique Ansel.



Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry FundamentalsDominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Dominique Ansel teaches his essential techniques for making delicious pastries and desserts in his first-ever online class.

Learn More

What Is Pastry Cream?

Pastry cream is the English translation of the French crème pâtissière, a sweet custard used as a filling in many pastries. It's made from egg yolks, hot milk, sugar, and cornstarch, often with the addition of flavorings.

5 Ways to Use Pastry Cream

Pastry cream is a common filling for all kinds of desserts.

  1. Fruit tarts: Pastry cream is an essential component of the classic French fruit tart, made with a crisp pie shell and fresh fruit such as raspberries or strawberries. Learn to make Dominique Ansel’s fruit tart here.
  2. Profiteroles: Also known as cream puffs, profiteroles are balls of choux pastry with a creamy filling—sometimes vanilla custard, whipped cream, or ice cream, but often vanilla pastry cream.
  3. Éclairs: Éclairs are tubes of choux pastry typically filled with vanilla pastry cream (pastry cream flavored with vanilla bean, pure vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste) or chocolate pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache. Find a recipe for chocolate éclairs here.
  4. Boston cream pie: Boston cream pie isn't a pie at all—it's a layered cake, with a cake filling of pastry cream or custard and a chocolate glaze.
  5. Donuts: Some of the most decadent filled donuts are stuffed with vanilla pastry cream and rolled in sugar.
Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals
Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals
Alice Waters Teaches The Art of Home Cooking
Wolfgang Puck Teaches Cooking

How to Store Pastry Cream

To store pastry cream for later use, transfer to a medium bowl or other fridge-safe container and cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface of the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the cream. Refrigerate for up to three days. For a dessert with multiple components, like Dominique Ansel’s French fruit tart, it can be helpful to make the pastry cream ahead of time.

Dominique Ansel’s Pastry Cream Recipe

1 kg (enough for an 8-inch tart or 8-inch cake with some leftover)
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Cook Time
15 min


  • 533 grams (2¼ cups) whole milk
  • 128 grams (⅔ cup) sugar
  • 184 grams (9 each) egg yolks
  • 48 grams (⅓ cup) cornstarch
  • 108 grams (8 tablespoons, or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cubed
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the milk and half of the sugar to a boil, slowly stirring to prevent the mixture from burning on the bottom of the pot.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the other half of the sugar with the egg yolks. (Do this immediately to prevent the yolks from “burning” on contact with the sugar.) Stir in the cornstarch until smooth then slowly whisk in ½ cup of the warm milk and sugar mixture, stirring until evenly combined. This process is called tempering, a cooking technique in which you gradually raise the temperature of a cold or room-temperature ingredient (in this case, eggs) by adding small amounts of a hot liquid, to prevent the cold ingredient from cooking too quickly or too much. If you add all of the hot liquid into the eggs at once, you’re going to end up with lumpy scrambled eggs in your pastry cream.
  3. While stirring, pour the egg mixture back into the pot of milk. On low to medium heat, while stirring constantly, heat the mixture up until it noticeably thickens. It takes about 3 minutes or so to thicken and a further 2 minutes more, once thickened, to cook out the raw taste from the cornstarch. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so remove it from the heat before you evaporate off too much water. Look for the foam on the top of the custard to start disappearing. This is a sign that the custard is almost finished cooking.
  4. Remove from heat and allow the custard to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Add in the cubed butter and whisk until evenly combined. A good pastry cream is rich and smooth, with a pale yellow color and a glossy, velvety texture. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to help remove any lumps.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap pressed up against the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Become a better chef with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by culinary masters, including Dominique Ansel, Gabriela Cámara, Chef Thomas Keller, Massimo Bottura, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, and more.