A vanilla custard cake filling can be an absolute treat hidden between two layers of cake. That creamy sweet goodness made from cooking eggs, milk, and sugar. Try it as a cake filling, in layered trifles or just pour it alongside a delicious warm Brownie. It's a luxury in all forms.
In a mixing bowl combine egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk until light and foamy. Set aside
Heat milk, whipping cream, and vanilla bean scrapings in a saucepan over medium heat. Let come to an almost boil but do not boil. Pro tip - we prevent the milk from boiling so it does not curdle the milk in the next step.
Once the milk has reached an almost boiling point. Carefully pour some of the hot milk into the egg mixture a little at a time.Pro tip - This has to be done gradually. Start with ¼ cup of the milk to eggs - mix thoroughly. Followed by another ¼ cup - mix thoroughly.
Once almost half the mixture has been added, the eggs should have been tempered. Now, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk to continue cooking.
Place the saucepan back on low heat and continue to cook stirring constantly. The mixture will slowly start to thicken. Continue to cook on low until the custard is thick and coats the back of your spoon.Pro tip - This has to be cooked slowly on low heat with constant stirring or the mixture will curdle. You will notice the big bubbles start to disappear as the mixture thickens.
When done - strain thru a sieve. Finally, add the butter and give it a good mix. Pro tip - straining the mixture will remove any curdled eggs and the butter will give it a nice velvety texture.
Cover the custard with plastic wrap making sure the plastic is in contact with the surface of the custard to prevent skin from forming. Pro tip - a skin will make a very lumpy custard filling so we want the plastic to touch the surface of the custard.
Place in the fridge to cool completely. When cooled place the custard in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip for 3 minutes on high.Pro tip - The cream in the custard will whip light and fluffy. It also gives a smooth glossy filling that looks like mousse and will hold better
If not using immediately continue to chill in the fridge. Once chilled your custard is ready to be used as the cake filling, trifles, tarts, or any dessert that calls for pastry cream. It is delicious on its own too.
Always use good quality ingredients - fresh eggs is very important for creme patisserie.
Heat the milk with the vanilla for a few minutes before you temper the egg yolks. This lets the milk infuse with the vanilla and results in wonderful rich vanilla flavor.
Whip the egg yolks, sugar, and starch with a whisk until light and fluffy to prevent lumps.
There is no need to rush the tempering process. Take your time and pour a little at a time carefully. What is important, is that you continue to move the egg mixture while pouring the milk to prevent curdling.
A whisk or wooden spoon works great when stirring.
You must stir all the time - this will prevent the milk and egg from curdling and you will have a silky smooth custard.
Stirring can be very boring but it is important to keep the heat med-low and stir constantly. You want the mixture to cook and thicken at the same time. If you thicken it too fast, it may curdle but it may also be undercooked. The slow process helps cook the eggs as well as the cornstarch. The mixture will look reduced in quantity when thickened.
This mixture will continue to thicken as it cools and chills in the fridge.
Sieve is necessary to remove any lumps - giving you a smooth velvety creamy pastry.
Always cover the top surface of the custard to prevent any skin from forming. If you don't that skin will later result in lumpy pastry cream.
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