I’ve only discovered the joys of patisserie cream recently. In fact, up until about a year ago, I would have told you that I really hated custard. I grew up with a great uncle who owned an Italian bakery, so I grew up with a strong appreciation for really good bread – and, alas, a complete and utter loathing for cannoli, Italian sponge cakes, and chou pastry with custard in it. I don’t know what it is about Italian-style custards, but I just can’t stand them. And believe me, I’ve tried to like them – many, many times.
I’m also not at all keen on English-style custards. The whole vanilla slice thing makes me shudder. How can people even eat that? And I’ve made Portuguese tarts, out of sheerest curiosity, which everyone loved except for me…
So when we were told that we would be making crème patissière at the croissant class I went to last year, my heart sank, because now I, too, would be able to make custards that made me feel vaguely queasy. But, being the good and obedient student I am, I dutifully made my crème pat, tasted it – and was astonished to discover that it actually tasted good. A miracle! Or possibly, just a different recipe.
Honestly, I don’t know why this recipe works for me, but it really does. And, having found the one custard recipe in the world that I like, I promptly had to… go and change it. Yeah, I don’t understand the logic of that, either. But I have friends who can’t eat dairy, so what can you do? And, as it turns out, the almond-milk version of this custard is surprisingly good. Who knew?
Maybe I should pop down the road to my local bakery and give the cannoli another try.
Your shopping list
For plain, vanilla pastry cream
500 ml almond milk
1 vanilla pod
125 g caster sugar
100 g egg yolks (from about 5-6 eggs)
40 g custard powder or cornflour (custard powder, not to be confused with custard mix, is basically cornflour with a little yellow colouring anyway. It thickens the pastry cream and makes it look prettier)
25 g cocoa butter
For light, fruity pastry cream
1 tsp orange flower water
2 tbsp (40 ml) peach schnapps
For passionfruit and chocolate pastry cream
200 ml almond milk (extra)
150 g dark chocolate, chopped
50 g freeze dried passionfruit powder