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There are several different types of custards, but two are used more frequently than all the others combined. These are crème anglaise and crème pâtissière. Crème Anglaise is the classic English custard, this we use to pour over desserts, like the custard in the Hungarian version of floating islands otherwise known as madártej. This custard tends to be a bit tricky to make, because the eggs can curdle if you don’t pay enough attention to tempering.

The thicker and more stable custard is crème pâtissière, this is what we call pastry cream. Pastry cream is used to fill pies, tarts, cakes, and miscellaneous desserts. Pastry cream is usually made with either flour or cornstarch. [The purist approach is to use cornstarch only.] My recipe contains both flour and cornstarch. I find custard made with only flour tends to be a bit doughy and using only cornstarch can be challenging at times; if the cornstarch overheats, the custard can remain runny. On the other hand, using both flour and cornstarch reduces the risk of not setting and at the same time it tastes better.

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour, sifted
6 Tbsp cornstarch, sifted

• In a large bowl beat the sugar and egg yolks until thick and pale yellow.
• Add a pinch of salt and gradually whisk in the sifted flour and cornstarch.
• Make a smooth paste and set aside.
• With a sharp knife split the vanilla bean lengthwise.
• Place the milk in a bowl and heat it in the microwave to the boiling.
• Transfer the hot milk to a medium sized saucepan and add the vanilla bean.
• Set to medium, heat the milk until it begins to foam up.
• Remove from heat.
• Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk.
• Reserve the vanilla bean for another use later.*
• Then by dribbles first, gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg paste.
• Place a fine sieve over the pot the milk was used to heat up.
• Now pour the hot custard to be through the fine sieve and back into the pot.
• Cook on medium heat whisking constantly until custard thickens.
• Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl.
• Cover the surface with wrap. Place the wrap right on the custard. This will prevent skin forming.
• Cool.
• If not using right away refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze.
• Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.


  1. Zsuzsa, I love pastry cream and even though I have already tested several recipes, I have never seen half flour and half cornstarch. My favourite now is the one inspired by a famous French chef's recipe (Pierre Hermé) and is made only with cornstarch. It's a huge change from the 100% wheat flour and quite recent in the French cuisine, since traditionally the French don't use cornstarch.
    I always put real vanilla. I love to see the beautiful spots!

  2. I didn't know the French didn't use cornstarch in the past. They sure do now, almost every French recipe I see is with cornstarch. They may have embraced it because it’s more volatile to work with than flour. ;) Or because the French recipes on the Net are as French as the Hungarian recipes are Hungarian... haha




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