Learn how to make homemade custard cream (pastry cream) and use it as a delicious filling for popular Japanese street snacks such as Dorayaki, Taiyaki, and Imagawayaki (Obanyaki)!
Custard Cream (pastry cream) is commonly used as a filling for western sweets like cream puffs and éclairs, but don’t forget that we can use it for Japanese sweets too! Aside from the good old red bean paste in typical Japanese sweets such as Dorayaki, Taiyaki, and Imagawayaki, custard cream is just as decadent as the original favorite.
Ivory in color, custard cream has a smooth and velvety texture with a sweet hint of vanilla. For those of you who are not that interested in red bean, custard cream will be your delicious standby for trying out traditional Japanese snacks. You really don’t want to miss them out!
Mr. JOC loves custard cream (pastry cream) in desserts, so I thought it’s about time to share this really good custard cream recipe that my family enjoys. There seem to be many different ways to make custard cream. There are short-cut methods using a microwave, and there are some recipes using whole eggs so you don’t have to worry about the leftover egg whites. Some recipes use cornstarch instead of flour, and some recipes use heavy cream instead of milk.
But today, I’ll show you a somewhat traditional version. Although the method is rather simple and easy, the technique can be tricky. I’ll go over a few tips that would be helpful when you make homemade custard cream.
4 Tips on Make Delicious Custard Cream
Tip 1: Use low heat, a heavy saucepan, and constant stirring.
Having the right tools such as a heavy saucepan and silicone spatula is really important to get good result. You need to make sure the heat distributes evenly so your pot doesn’t have hot spots and scorch the custard cream.
Tip 2: Mix the egg yolks, sugar, and flour until white pale color.
This step really prevents the eggs from curdling as air bubbles inside the mixture slow down the distribution of the heat.
Tip 3: Heat up the milk until almost boiling
Remember that egg yolks start to solidify or thicken at 65 ºC (149 ºF) and sets around 70 °C (158 ºF).
Flour starts to thicken at 70 to 80 ºC (158 to 176 ºF). It will complete final thickening process at 96 ºC (205 ºF).
If you pour warm (140 ºF or 60 ºC) milk into the mixture, it will takes a longer time to reach 70 to 80 ºC (158 to 176 ºF). Meanwhile eggs will likely to curdle.
Therefore, you should instead pour hot (close to boiling) milk, skipping the dangerous “curdling temperature”, and cook the eggs and flour at the same time.
If the flour is under-cooked, the custard cream will have a undesired pasty flavor with a chalky, grainy texture. Make sure to cook custard cream for at least 10 minutes at 96 ºC (205 ºF).
Tip 4: Take your time and be patient.
You will also need quite a bit of patience as the process requires 20-25 minutes standing in front of the stove while waiting for the custard cream to thicken.
When the custard cream starts to boiling, stir constantly in one direction until you see a shine/luster on the surface of the custard cream. The custard cream will come to a smooth, looser texture.
Custard Cream (Pastry Cream) Recipes
With these simple tips in mind, you are ready to make some delicious custard filling for many late afternoon snacks!
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Custard Cream (Pastry Cream)
- ½ vanilla bean (or substitute it with ½ tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 cup whole milk (measure 1 cup and remove 3 Tbsp)
- 2 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp cake flour (2 Tbsp + 2 tsp to be precise; you can use all-purpose flour, but if you have less-gluten cake flour, I highly recommend to use it.)
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Cut the vanilla bean in half (we only use ½). Make a slit lengthwise on the vanilla bean and scrape off the vanilla bean with a knife.
- In a medium saucepan (preferably a heavy saucepan for equal heat distribution), combine the milk and vanilla bean and bring it to ALMOST boil (small bubbles around the edges). Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add egg yolks and beat gently. Add granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture turns pale yellow.
- Add the cake flour and whisk until combine.
- Pour small amount of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and quickly whisk to combine. Slowly add the rest of milk while whisking.
- Set a fine-mesh strainer over the saucepan and pour everything back into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat while CONSTANTLY mixing with a silicone spatula. It starts as a thin and frothy mixture and it will start to thicken. It’ll take 20-25 minutes for the custard cream to thicken.
- Stir constantly, making sure to scrape off the custard on the entire bottom and the corners of the pan. Ensure that the mixture heats evenly. Lift the spatula up occasionally to check if any large bubbles are bursting at the top of the mixture. Keep cooking and stirring until large bubbles appear. Then boil and stir for 1 minute. The custard should be shiny and drops intermittently when you lift up the silicone spatula. Add the butter to combine, if you are using it. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Transfer the custard to a tray (or flat container) and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming on top of the custard. Put the tray over ice cubes and put the ice pack on top of the custard to cool immediately, about 30 minutes. The key is to cool quickly so the custard won’t get spoiled.
- When it’s cool, put the custard back into a bowl and whisk until nice and smooth. The custard is now ready to use.
- You can keep the homemade custard for up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator. To prevent a film from forming on top of the custard as it cools, put and press down a piece of plastic wrap on top of the custard. If you put in the freezer, the texture of the custard will change.