Friday, 22 January 2016

Creme Patissiere / Pastry Cream - Recipe Differences

When I was wiring up my notes on the Fraisier Cake yesterday, I noted that the crème pat had used full eggs. I'd previously made crème pat for a couple of recipes (Religieuse and Donauwelle), and in that the custard used just egg yolks.

This got me thinking, so I've put the 2 recipes side by side, and there are a fair number of differences, both in quantity and content. I've balanced the below so that the milk volume is the same (500ml in this case), and I've excluded the vanilla pod seeds.

IngredientEgg Yolk RecipeWhole Egg Recipe
Caster Sugar75g150g
Egg Yolks65
Egg Whites02
Plain Flour25g0g

That's quite a few differences, for what is supposed to be the same thing! The techniques for both is basically the same (heat milk with vanilla seeds), and then form the custard base by whisking the egg, sugar and flour together...Combine quickly, and then heat until it thickens. The "traditional" method uses just egg yolks, though this does have the downside of ending up with lots of egg whites (meringues, anyone?).

I've done some investigation, and the egg is the main thickening agent, with an "assist" from the cornflour/flour. I've always used cornflour as a thickening agent, and as the Whole Egg recipe was looking for a thick set, it makes sense there is a higher concentration in that.

The sugar difference is surprising...I sort of assume this is "to taste", and I'm personally not a big fan of over-sweet crème pat (I prefer the creamy texture rather than a sweet kick). The addition of butter is apparently to give it a richer texture...other options are to fold in double cream (this results in something called Creme Diplomat), or flavour (melting chocolate into the milk seems popular!)

I'm hoping to work on my pastry in February, so I'll work on getting a decent "standard" ratio together for my custard, based on what I've learnt about how it works as a recipe/chemical reaction!