Pastry cream is a smooth, creamy, custard-like substance that can be used as a filling for pastries (e.g. eclairs, cream puffs), tarts, cakes, etc. You can also add different flavorings to it using extracts, fruit (purées, ground up freeze-dried fruit), coffee, etc. For a lighter consistency, allow it to cool, then fold in whipped cream.
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery
1 1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cake flour (I used AP)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Scald the milk over medium-high heat (Small bubbles form around the edge of the pan, but the milk is not boiling).
2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Whisk to mix.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended. Then slowly whisk in the above flour mixture. The mixture will be very thick and pasty; I actually got tired from mixing.
4. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add it to the egg-flour mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly.
5. After all the milk has been mixed in, dump everything back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once it thickens and the froth disappears, stop whisking every few seconds to see if the mixture bubbles throughout (a sign that it is boiling). If it has not, keep whisking vigorously. As soon as you see it bubbling, whisk again for just 10 seconds, and then remove the pan from the heat. It is important that the mixture reach a boil in order to cook out the flour taste. If it boils longer than 10 seconds, however, the mixture might become grainy.
6. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve.
7. Stir in the vanilla.
8. Cover with plastic wrap with the wrap directly touching the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.
9. Refrigerate until cold, or up to 3 days.