Homemade Custard Recipe (Pastry Cream)

Homemade Custard Recipe (Pastry Cream) – quick and easy to make, foolproof custard recipe that can be served on its own, or used as a cake, pie, tart and pastry filling.


Homemade custard in a white bowl topped with berries
If you have been following me for a while, you may know I love baking and making pastry.

Even though I try to follow low-carb diet now, this old custard recipe that I originally shared back in June 2014 desperately needed new pictures.

This is by far my favorite way to make pastry cream. It produces the thickest, most yellow and perfectly sweet custard that does not release water and works well as a filling in pastry, cakes, tarts or donuts. This egg custard is the best!

No more store bought powdered pudding mixes. This is a homemade pudding made from scratch.

 

What is custard?

Custard is generally referred to as a dessert or sweet sauce made with milk, eggs, and sugar.

Custard is a variety of culinary preparations, based on cooked mixture of milk (cream) and egg yolk.

Some other pastry cream variations I’ve shared with you are: Bavarian Cream and Lightened Up Pastry Cream.

Most popular custards are used as desserts or dessert sauces and include sugar and vanilla.

This custard is not cooked over a double boiler. It is cooked in a saucepan on the stove top at medium-low temperature.

What ingredients do I need to make this custard?

  • egg yolks
  • sugar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla extract or vanilla bean
  • whole milk
  • butter

Custard in a bowl topped with berries

How to make this homemade Custard (Pastry Cream)?

  1. In a large pot pour milk and half of the sugar and bring to just below boil. Reduce heat to medium.
  2. Keep the milk at low simmer. In a bowl whisk egg yolks. In a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar and cornstarch. Add egg yolks to the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine.

    !!! DO NOT MIX THE sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch too far in advance(no more than 2-3 minutes), do it when the milk is starting to boil and you are ready to add them to it.

    Add 1 cup from the warm milk and carefully mix, then add mixture to the remaining warm milk and heat gently (on low heat), stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk. Keep stirring until custard thickens, or for 3-5 minutes.

  3. Turn off heat and add butter, which will thicken the custard even more, after it cools down. Add vanilla.Stir again and remove from heat. You can strain custard to get rid of any lumps.

  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap on top. Cool to room temperature.

  5. Serve at room temperature or cold.

    Homemade custard in a small cup

Why is my egg custard watery?

There are many reasons why custard could turn into a watery, unusable (but not inedible) thing.

I can say that if you follow my instructions you shouldn’t run into the watery custard problem.

Here are a few reasons why egg custard might not set properly and be watery:

  1. The recipe and ratio of ingredients definitely can be the main reason. Custard made with whole eggs vs egg yolks might be more watery, because egg whites can thin it.
  2. Not using the correct amount of cornstarch may result in a egg custard that is not thick enough.
  3. Mixing the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch too far in advance may cause the custard to become watery when cooked.
  4. The amount of milk is too much and the custard can not thicken.
  5. Not cooking the custard long enough. This homemade pastry cream needs to be cooked until thickened and it should coat the back of the spatula you are stirring it with. Bubbles should start to appear in the custard when done, make sure you stir constantly. Then you cook for 1 extra minute after you get the desired thickness, stirring constantly so it does not burn.

What temperature does egg custard set at? This is for cornstarch thickened custards.

If you are not sure weather your custard is done, you may want to use a pastry thermometer.

Custard making is a delicate operation. A temperature increase of 3–6 °C (5–10 °F) leads to overcooking and curdling. Generally.

Temperature of a fully cooked starch thickened custard should be around 185 °F, it begins setting at 70 °C(~160 °F). Make sure you cook at 185 F for a minute, but not more than this, since custard will overcook and become watery.

Cornstarch Based Custard Not Thickening, a Troubleshooting guide:

I’ve received some questions and concerns from readers stating that this egg yolk and cornstarch is not thickening.

Here are the main reasons why custard may not thicken:

  • Make sure you mix the sugar and cornstarch together with the egg yolks no more than 3-4 minutes, before you add them to the hot milk. While I have not had issues with this, some readers are pointing out that if you mix them together too far in advance, custard may turn watery, due to the cornstarch looking its custard setting power.
  • Don’t overcook the custard. It needs to be cooked to 185 F-190 F but only for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Reaching temperatures beyond 190 F will cause watery, overcooked custard.
  • Egg yolks have a starch digesting enzyme called alpha-amylase. In order for a successful thickening of the custard in the recipe, the enzyme has to be killed by cooking the custard almost to1850190 F). Otherwise the left-over enzymes digest all of the nice firm starch gel and your custard is nothing but liquid. (All other custard cooking methods without starch can curdle if cooked beyond 185 degrees.)

Some reputable sources on that issue:

https://joepastry.com/2013/egg-yolks-the-enzyme-problem/

https://www.craftybaking.com/learn/baked-goods/custard/problems-and-solutions/

 

Is custard made with eggs?

There are many variations of the traditional custard recipes and every single one of them uses different amounts and ratios of ingredients.

Some recipes call for whole eggs, others for egg yolks only. If you are looking for thick, foolproof homemade custard recipe, I recommend using egg yolks only.

Feel free to check out my Bulgarian Funiiki Cookies Recipe, where I fill the cream horns with homemade custard made with whole eggs.

Can custard be frozen?

I personally would not freeze a batch of custard, because it does not freeze well and has a tendency to separate, once defrosted. If you make donuts for example and fill them with custard, you can freeze them. But I don’t recommend freezing custard cakes and tarts.

Making a custard ice cream is a different story. Most of the time (of not all) you ned to use an ice cream machine to churn the ice cream.

Baked Custard

This is not a baked custard recipe.

Baked custard usually contains whole eggs. Creme caramel or Flan is a variation of baked custard.

When preparing baked custard, you make the egg, milk and sugar mixture, place in oven safe cups (or bowls) and bake at 300-350 F in a water bath until he custard thickens.

 How to serve custard?

I enjoy eating it by the spoon full topped with some fresh berries. You can always drizzle some chocolate sauce or sprinkle some nuts or shredded coconut on top.

Egg yolk Custard in a bowl with a spoon

More Recipes You May Like:

Servings: 8

Homemade Custard Recipe (Pastry Cream)

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
Homemade Custard Recipe
Homemade custard in a white bowl topped with berries
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Ingredients

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch — (can use cornflour)
  • 1 oz soft butter — unsalted

Instructions

  1. In a large pot pour milk and half of the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.

  2. Keep the milk at low simmer. In a bowl whisk egg yolks. In a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar and cornstarch. Add egg yolks to the sugar and cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine.

    DO NOT MIX THE sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch too far in advance, do it when the milk is starting to boil and you are ready to add them to it.

    Add 1 cup from the warm milk and carefully mix, then add mixture to the remaining warm milk and heat gently (on low heat), stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk. Keep stirring until custard thickens, or for 3-5 minutes. This custard needs to be cooked to 185 F in order for it to become thick and not turn wattery in the fridge.

  3. Turn off heat and add butter, which will thicken the custard even more, after it cools down. Add vanilla.Stir again and remove from heat. You can strain custard to get rid of any lumps.

  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap on top. Cool to room temperature.

  5. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: custard recipe

Nutrition Information

Calories: 415, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 170mg, Sodium: 259mg, Potassium: 177mg, Carbohydrates: 33g, Sugar: 31g, Protein: 5g, Vitamin A: 1035%, Calcium: 156%, Iron: 0.4%