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Pastry cream: a delicacy invented in France

It is a delicacy found in many French desserts such as cream puffs or even the éclair... It was invented in France more than 3 centuries ago by a talented boy named François Massialot. We explain here how to make it yourself...


A recipe born in France 

By the inventor of the crème brûlée

It was invented by François Massialot (1660 - 1733). A talented boy who was born in Limoges in 1660, he quickly rose through the ranks and cooked for the greatest aristocrats, including the Regent Philippe d'Orléans (1674 - 1723). It was for the Regent that he invented another French delicacy: the crème brûlée (which he would have caramelized by passing over the curling iron of the wig of his boss who wanted to eat an egg cream a little warm rather than cold). 


Author of many books

Maybe because the French were already very greedy and fans of cooking, Massialot wrote several culinary books including "le cuisinier royal et bourgeois" published in 1691 and in which he gives his famous recipe for custard. 


A cream found in many desserts 

Pastry cream (or confectioner custard) can be found in a lot of french recipes : eclairs (it is often flavored with chocolate or coffee), in cream puffs, in salambô, strawberry pie, Paris-Brest (flavored with praline)... And it can change its name if you add ingredients. For example, if you mix it with Italian meringue, you get the famous Chiboust cream found in the Saint Honoré. If you mix it with whipped cream you get a princess cream. Finally if we mix it with almond cream, we obtain the frangipane that we find in the galette des rois or in the pithiviers. 


The recipe of the pastry cream 

The ingredients to make a good pastry cream are here. photo chosen by : Corina Daniela Obertas/ 
The ingredients to make a good pastry cream are here. photo chosen by : Corina Daniela Obertas/ 


To make just over 500 grams of pastry cream


  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 half-liter of whole milk (half-skimmed at worst, but it will hold less well)
  • 100 grams of white sugar
  • 60 grams of flour (rather T55). You can also substitute cornstarch. 
  • 1 vanilla bean or half a spoon of liquid vanilla. 
  • A little salt (just a pinch, no more).

The process 


  • Split your vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. You keep them. 
  • Take a large saucepan and pour in the milk, sugar, vanilla (bean and seeds). Or substitute half a spoonful of vanilla liquid and add a pinch of salt. 
  • Heat the mixture with the milk. 
  • Meanwhile, you take a large bowl and a wooden spoon.

(check your milk so that it doesn't heat up too quickly)

  • In this bowl, you mix the eggs and the 100 grams of sugar. You have to mix well until you obtain a rather white mixture. 

(remember to watch your milk so it doesn't overflow).

  • Then, you incorporate the flour in rain, while always mixing.

(watch the milk!).

  • When your milk is boiling and has not overflowed (you have been warned enough!) you remove the vanilla bean from the milk and mix the hot milk with the previous mixture. 
  • Rinse the pan in which the milk was cooked. 
  • Pour your custard into the rinsed pan. 
  • Stir over low heat for a few more moments. 
  • Then, turn the heat up to boiling and stir for another 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Finally, either take the pan off the heat and stir while it cools.
  • Or you put your pan in a container full of ice.
  • Pour the cream into a flat dish. 
  • You put a plastic film on it (it will prevent it from making a crust). 

The custard in a chocolate éclair... too good! photo chosen by : Dolunay Oran/ 
The custard in a chocolate éclair... too good! photo chosen by : Dolunay Oran/ 




To avoid a "crust", the pastry cream must cool very quickly and evenly, so the best thing is to cool the pan very quickly in a cold tray, or pour it into a very flat dish and put it in the refrigerator. 



Custard does not keep very long. After 48 hours in the refrigerator, you can no longer eat it cold, but you can avoid spoiling it by putting it in a dish and putting it in the oven at 210°C (thermostat 7) to make a sort of flan without pastry, which is delicious.

fancy other french sweet flavors ? for other recipes click here

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme is "monsieur de France" the author of this site.