An alternative way to make pastry cream


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@Norcalbaker59 I just found this recently and thought it was really interesting; figured you may be interested to know about it too. So I found out that Francisco Migoya actually has a blog where he publishes some recipes (including baker's percentages too!), which is pretty neat. The link is here: https://www.saint-honore.me/

On there, he published how he cooks pastry cream differently than the immediate method. The gist of it is that he cooks the cornstarch and eggs separately to a predetermined temperature (and keeps them at that temperature) so that the starch in the cornstarch is gelatinized, but the proteins in the eggs are just cooked but not overcooked. Meanwhile the milks is heated until boiling, then immediately poured into the cornstarch-eggs mixture so that the heat of the milk fully coagulates the egg proteins and gelatinizes the starch.

Supposedly it makes for a creamier product than the traditional method, and can be made quicker. It kinda reminded me of our discussion on butter emulsification in lemon curd to make for a smoother curd, so this method might be interesting to try. The video is here:
 
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@Norcalbaker59 I just found this recently and thought it was really interesting; figured you may be interested to know about it too. So I found out that Francisco Migoya actually has a blog where he publishes some recipes (including baker's percentages too!), which is pretty neat. The link is here: https://www.saint-honore.me/

On there, he published how he cooks pastry cream differently than the immediate method. The gist of it is that he cooks the cornstarch and eggs separately to a predetermined temperature (and keeps them at that temperature) so that the starch in the cornstarch is gelatinized, but the proteins in the eggs are just cooked but not overcooked. Meanwhile the milks is heated until boiling, then immediately poured into the cornstarch-eggs mixture so that the heat of the milk fully coagulates the egg proteins and gelatinizes the starch.

Supposedly it makes for a creamier product than the traditional method, and can be made quicker. It kinda reminded me of our discussion on butter emulsification in lemon curd to make for a smoother curd, so this method might be interesting to try. The video is here:

@Cahoot, Omg, I love his blog. There are so many interesting desserts that are really not that complicated.

I love his pastry cream technique. But since cornstarch needs to be heated to 203°F (95°C) to stabilize, and the eggs to 170°F (76°C), otherwise it will not set properly, I am wondering about the texture of the pastry cream. He said after mixing in the boiling milk and sugar, the starch and eggs are only reach 160°F (71°C), that a pretty low temperature—one that pretty much guarantees a failed pastry cream in that it will not set.
 
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@Cahoot, Omg, I love his blog. There are so many interesting desserts that are really not that complicated.

I love his pastry cream technique. But since cornstarch needs to be heated to 203°F (95°C) to stabilize, and the eggs to 170°F (76°C), otherwise it will not set properly, I am wondering about the texture of the pastry cream. He said after mixing in the boiling milk and sugar, the starch and eggs are only reach 160°F (71°C), that a pretty low temperature—one that pretty much guarantees a failed pastry cream in that it will not set.
That's actually something I was wondering about too. If it wasn't necessary to cook to those temperatures, then why do we have to bring pastry cream to a boil for a minute or more in the traditional method? Something also asked a comment about deactivating amylase in the comments in the video, but unfortunately he hasn't responded to that one.

However, even if it sounds like it shouldn't work on paper, it somehow obviously does work for him. I found on his Youtube channel an older video from 9 years ago where he talks about the technique, and he mentions it was actually invented by food scientists. So there's gotta be something going on that makes it work.
 
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That's actually something I was wondering about too. If it wasn't necessary to cook to those temperatures, then why do we have to bring pastry cream to a boil for a minute or more in the traditional method? Something also asked a comment about deactivating amylase in the comments in the video, but unfortunately he hasn't responded to that one.

However, even if it sounds like it shouldn't work on paper, it somehow obviously does work for him. I found on his Youtube channel an older video from 9 years ago where he talks about the technique, and he mentions it was actually invented by food scientists. So there's gotta be something going on that makes it work.

Okay that’s very interesting, that even the slightest drop in temperature will throw the entire coagulation process off, so it must be a minimum of 160°F (71°C) with this method that has to happen.

I just wish the science behind this was explained fully as it is very fascinating. My guess is pre-hydration of the with the milk is changing how protein denaturation and starch gelatinization happens; that step is not superfluous. I wish he had said which lab invented this technique.

This method is so much easier than the traditional method. And if it produces a creamier and perfect pastry cream, then @Cahoot, this is a game changer. Personally I am not a fan of traditional pastry cream for all the reasons he mentioned in the first video. I was at Bouchon Bakery* a couple of times this past month to sample a couple of things to re-gauge where my baking is at on a few things. The pastry cream in their eclair is awful—I mean horrible. A waste of good chocolate. It is like glue, it is so heavy and thick it stuck to the roof of the mouth and throat. The flavor of the chocolate is good, but the texture of the cream is some of the worst I’ve ever tried. I thought maybe a bad day. So I gave it another try a couple of weeks later. Nope, just as bad. I can’t eat gluten so it was disappointing that I got sick and didn’t at least get to enjoy what I ate.

off topic... Interestingly, I bought a chocolate chip cookie from the bakery and from their restaurant down the street. You would think it would be the same since they are the same owner. The bakery cookie was bigger and had the better chocolate. Yet, it was meh. The restaurant cookie was smaller, thinner, and had tiny chocolate chips. But wow, the smaller cookie with the cheaper chocolate was so much better. But it came down to the caramelization of the dough. The quality of the dough. how it actually bakes is 90% of what makes a chocolate chip cookie. That was worth it.

*owed by Thomas Keller a famous chef here in the Napa Valley. He owns three restaurants and a bakery here; and a restaurant in New York.
 
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Okay that’s very interesting, that even the slightest drop in temperature will throw the entire coagulation process off, so it must be a minimum of 160°F (71°C) with this method that has to happen.

I just wish the science behind this was explained fully as it is very fascinating. My guess is pre-hydration of the with the milk is changing how protein denaturation and starch gelatinization happens; that step is not superfluous. I wish he had said which lab invented this technique.

This method is so much easier than the traditional method. And if it produces a creamier and perfect pastry cream, then @Cahoot, this is a game changer. Personally I am not a fan of traditional pastry cream for all the reasons he mentioned in the first video. I was at Bouchon Bakery* a couple of times this past month to sample a couple of things to re-gauge where my baking is at on a few things. The pastry cream in their eclair is awful—I mean horrible. A waste of good chocolate. It is like glue, it is so heavy and thick it stuck to the roof of the mouth and throat. The flavor of the chocolate is good, but the texture of the cream is some of the worst I’ve ever tried. I thought maybe a bad day. So I gave it another try a couple of weeks later. Nope, just as bad. I can’t eat gluten so it was disappointing that I got sick and didn’t at least get to enjoy what I ate.

off topic... Interestingly, I bought a chocolate chip cookie from the bakery and from their restaurant down the street. You would think it would be the same since they are the same owner. The bakery cookie was bigger and had the better chocolate. Yet, it was meh. The restaurant cookie was smaller, thinner, and had tiny chocolate chips. But wow, the smaller cookie with the cheaper chocolate was so much better. But it came down to the caramelization of the dough. The quality of the dough. how it actually bakes is 90% of what makes a chocolate chip cookie. That was worth it.

*owed by Thomas Keller a famous chef here in the Napa Valley. He owns three restaurants and a bakery here; and a restaurant in. New York.
Yeah I wish he elaborated more on why it works since there are a few unanswered questions. I'm curious to try this method out now the next opportunity I have. If you're able to try it let me know if there really is a noticeable difference in texture.

And I think that the dough of chocolate chip cookies is underrated. A good cookie should be delicious even without the chocolate chips. I don't even think of them as chocolate chip cookies, but rather as a brown sugar cookie dough base with chocolate chips as the add-ins. I thought that the article written by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats about developing his chocolate chip cookie recipe was pretty insightful on the different aspects you gotta take into consideration, including how more undissolved sugar leads to more caramelization.
 
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Yeah I wish he elaborated more on why it works since there are a few unanswered questions. I'm curious to try this method out now the next opportunity I have. If you're able to try it let me know if there really is a noticeable difference in texture.

And I think that the dough of chocolate chip cookies is underrated. A good cookie should be delicious even without the chocolate chips. I don't even think of them as chocolate chip cookies, but rather as a brown sugar cookie dough base with chocolate chips as the add-ins. I thought that the article written by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats about developing his chocolate chip cookie recipe was pretty insightful on the different aspects you gotta take into consideration, including how more undissolved sugar leads to more caramelization.

Yes I really want to try this pastry cream. It’s been crazy hot here (90’s), and I don’t have AC, so I can’t bake in the summers here. We have another heat wave in the 100’s scheduled for this weekend. When things cool off this is first on my list to make with. I’ll probably do a cream tart or eclairs. I loved what he did with the pate a choux baking them into disks. That was so cleaver.

I loved Kenji’s article on the cookie dough. The dough is really key. But for all his work, I didn’t care for his cookie. I created my own brown butter CC cookie, but honestly, I think the traditional creamed butter dough produces a better cookie. And I like light brown sugar rather than dark. I also prefer more brown sugar to granulated sugar and he likes and even amount of the two. Where we agree is the flour protein. I am not a fan of strong flour. I like my flour at about 11.5%. And no bleached flour. Never bleached flour.
 
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I made pastry cream yesterday using this method, using white chocolate in place of the butter and adding ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves for a pumpkin spice flavour. Pictured below is a small amount, just what I used today. It is very creamy, but I can't say how much more so than made using the regular method. Of course it's not completely smooth, as there's some graininess due to the ground spices but that's to be expected.

IMG_20201006_150250[1].jpg


I used just this small amount for puff pastry diamonds (they look kinda sloppy since I didn't cut the squares completely even), since I baked the pastry cream with the pastries it's not a clear comparison. Tomorrow I'll use the rest of the batch for eclairs so that'll be a better comparison.

IMG_20201006_210215[1].jpg


The actual cooking process itself using this method was honestly much quicker than the traditional method, since it really only takes as long as the time required for the milk to come to a full boil, and you can give that a head start as you're prepping the rest. Getting the egg-cornstarch mixture to 100-110°F took less than a minute over a simmering double boiler. Once you pour in the boiling milk it really did thicken right before my eyes.

The prep takes slightly longer than doing it the traditional method, with a couple extra bowls needed and straining the egg yolks (something I never did before for pastry cream), but overall it still took less time and if I get comfortable with the new process it'll be even quicker. The only thing hickup was bringing the milk to a full rolling boil - I really underestimated how big of a pan I needed!

When I took it out of the fridge today it felt less gelatinous than normal (with how pastry cream always sets up after chilling overnight), and only a very small amount of whisking was required to smoothen it out compared to what I'm normally used to.
 
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I made pastry cream yesterday using this method, using white chocolate in place of the butter and adding ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves for a pumpkin spice flavour. Pictured below is a small amount, just what I used today. It is very creamy, but I can't say how much more so than made using the regular method. Of course it's not completely smooth, as there's some graininess due to the ground spices but that's to be expected.

View attachment 3330

I used just this small amount for puff pastry diamonds (they look kinda sloppy since I didn't cut the squares completely even), since I baked the pastry cream with the pastries it's not a clear comparison. Tomorrow I'll use the rest of the batch for eclairs so that'll be a better comparison.

View attachment 3331

The actual cooking process itself using this method was honestly much quicker than the traditional method, since it really only takes as long as the time required for the milk to come to a full boil, and you can give that a head start as you're prepping the rest. Getting the egg-cornstarch mixture to 100-110°F took less than a minute over a simmering double boiler. Once you pour in the boiling milk it really did thicken right before my eyes.

The prep takes slightly longer than doing it the traditional method, with a couple extra bowls needed and straining the egg yolks (something I never did before for pastry cream), but overall it still took less time and if I get comfortable with the new process it'll be even quicker. The only thing hickup was bringing the milk to a full rolling boil - I really underestimated how big of a pan I needed!

When I took it out of the fridge today it felt less gelatinous than normal (with how pastry cream always sets up after chilling overnight), and only a very small amount of whisking was required to smoothen it out compared to what I'm normally used to.

I‘m so glad you posted the photos. It actually looks pretty smooth and homogeneous. Is the pastry cream in the bowl Right after mixing or after you chilled it? Because if that’s right after mixing that’s pretty thick. I’d be very happy with that as a cream. Let me know how it turns out in the eclairs.
 
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I‘m so glad you posted the photos. It actually looks pretty smooth and homogeneous. Is the pastry cream in the bowl Right after mixing or after you chilled it? Because if that’s right after mixing that’s pretty thick. I’d be very happy with that as a cream. Let me know how it turns out in the eclairs.
The photo was after chilling. Right after mixing, the pastry cream was a bit thin, pretty much the same consistency as in Francisco Migoya's video. But it really is the perfect consistency for piping or filling eclairs, just firm enough but not too much.

About the eclairs though, this would be better suited to the pate a choux thread but I'll just post it here since we're already on the topic. I'm better at piping more consistent shapes now and the oil coating has noticeably helped with preventing cracks. However I'm noticing some of the shells are collapsing or have uneven bottoms. Is this purely due to under baking/not drying enough, or could there also be another reason?

I baked this time at 350F for 45 minutes, lowered to 300F for 15 minutes, then propped the oven door open for another 10 minutes. Immediately after baking all the shells were pretty firm when squeezed, and the shells were all crisp, not soft, when poking holes for the filling. The ones with this problem were located in different locations across the baking sheet, so it seemed to be pretty random.

IMG_20201007_195831.jpg
 
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The photo was after chilling. Right after mixing, the pastry cream was a bit thin, pretty much the same consistency as in Francisco Migoya's video. But it really is the perfect consistency for piping or filling eclairs, just firm enough but not too much.

About the eclairs though, this would be better suited to the pate a choux thread but I'll just post it here since we're already on the topic. I'm better at piping more consistent shapes now and the oil coating has noticeably helped with preventing cracks. However I'm noticing some of the shells are collapsing or have uneven bottoms. Is this purely due to under baking/not drying enough, or could there also be another reason?

I baked this time at 350F for 45 minutes, lowered to 300F for 15 minutes, then propped the oven door open for another 10 minutes. Immediately after baking all the shells were pretty firm when squeezed, and the shells were all crisp, not soft, when poking holes for the filling. The ones with this problem were located in different locations across the baking sheet, so it seemed to be pretty random.

View attachment 3332

I think you traded one problem for another. To keep the choux from splitting, you are using oil. But to keep the choux from burning before it bakes, you are dropping the temperature. Deflated choux is temperature problem. I think it is too undercooked and cool inside even though it looks baked on the outside. Not enough moisture is being baked out.

It could be the oil on the outside is interfering with the water evaporation, keeping the steam inside.
 
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regarding the pastry cream: when you say it perfect piping consistency, if it was used to fill a large tart, then chilled and sliced, would it slice clean, or would the pastry cream run? BTW, how did it taste?
 
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I think you traded one problem for another. To keep the choux from splitting, you are using oil. But to keep the choux from burning before it bakes, you are dropping the temperature. Deflated choux is temperature problem. I think it is too undercooked and cool inside even though it looks baked on the outside. Not enough moisture is being baked out.

It could be the oil on the outside is interfering with the water evaporation, keeping the steam inside.
It might very well be the oil interefering with water evaporation. Before I used the oil, my baking time was 350°F for 50 minutes, then further dried in the turned-off oven for 20-30 minutes, with the door propped open for a bit. So the baking time I've used here is really longer than that, but there's still collapsing. I'll play around with times and temperatures in future batches to try and fix it. Regarding the burning, it seems like the oil on the ridges of the shells "catch" the powdered sugar being dusted on, so a larger amount of the sugar dusting is concentrated on the ridges and causes those areas to darken more quickly.

regarding the pastry cream: when you say it perfect piping consistency, if it was used to fill a large tart, then chilled and sliced, would it slice clean, or would the pastry cream run? BTW, how did it taste?
I think it would slice cleanly, especially if you poured it straight into the tart shell after mixing, instead of chilling, smoothing, then pouring into the tart shell. I'd say the consistency of this pastry cream after chilling, but before smoothing with a whisk, is somewhat similar to Pierre Hermé's lemon cream after it's been chilled. However with the much larger amount of butter in the lemon cream formula, the lemon cream becomes much runnier after being at room temperature or mixed again.

I piped some of the pastry cream (after chilled + smoothed again) into a bowl, chilled it for a short bit, then sliced with a spoon to try to show what the consistency is like. It's soft but doesn't run. The taste is great, though the spices I added make it hard to compare with the plain base recipe. It's honestly very creamy, since you can't feel the grains of the spices so those flecks just add visual interest really.

Picture of pastry cream after slicing:
IMG_20201008_203352[1].jpg


I can't embed it here, but I also uploaded a gif of slicing it so you can get a better look at exactly how much it runs:
 
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Also: I just looked at Francisco's eclair recipe again and noticed that he bakes on a preheated baking stone or baking steel. Perhaps that plays a part in preventing the collapsed shells and deformed bottoms? No idea about that though, just spitting out ideas.
 
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Also: I just looked at Francisco's eclair recipe again and noticed that he bakes on a preheated baking stone or baking steel. Perhaps that plays a part in preventing the collapsed shells and deformed bottoms? No idea about that though, just spitting out ideas.

Moisture in the choux is the enemy. Any moisture in the shells will cause it to collapse. When I first learned to make puffs, I was taught to pierce the puffs with a skewer when baked to release the steam, then return them to the off but still hot oven to let them fully dry.

I’ve had a puff or two collapse on me, but I’ve never had an eclair collapse on me. Don’t know if its just luck or what.

Have you tryied freezing the choux like Scott Green yet? I’m wondering how that will work. When you do try it, bake some without the oil to see if it makes any difference.

I prefer the silplain mat; then parchment; then silicone in that order. The silplain seems to dry the choux out the best.

Thanks for posting the animated picture of the pastry cream. That really looks like the right consistency for most tarts and fillings. I’m definitely going to give this recipe a try, so much easier than the traditional pastry cream.
 
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Moisture in the choux is the enemy. Any moisture in the shells will cause it to collapse. When I first learned to make puffs, I was taught to pierce the puffs with a skewer when baked to release the steam, then return them to the off but still hot oven to let them fully dry.

I’ve had a puff or two collapse on me, but I’ve never had an eclair collapse on me. Don’t know if its just luck or what.

Have you tryied freezing the choux like Scott Green yet? I’m wondering how that will work. When you do try it, bake some without the oil to see if it makes any difference.

I prefer the silplain mat; then parchment; then silicone in that order. The silplain seems to dry the choux out the best.

Thanks for posting the animated picture of the pastry cream. That really looks like the right consistency for most tarts and fillings. I’m definitely going to give this recipe a try, so much easier than the traditional pastry cream.
I think piercing the shells near the end of baking would definitely help, completely forgot about that technique. I used to do it but omitted it to simplify the method since I found it wasn't necessary. But it looks like the oil, being hydrophilic, prevents moisture from getting out of the shells so I'll try it again.

Haven't tried out the freezing pre-baking method yet. I've just been occupied with ironing out other techniques for eclairs and I've too many other ideas for seasonal baking. Plus our freezer is pretty full now so I haven't been able to justify making of bunch of batches and just storing them in the freezer for later. But when I do try it I'll let you know the results.

I hope you like the pastry cream texture. If anything it's much quicker to make than the traditional method. And I think it's really neat that for a preparation as basic as pastry cream, people can still find a new way to make it.
 
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I think piercing the shells near the end of baking would definitely help, completely forgot about that technique. I used to do it but omitted it to simplify the method since I found it wasn't necessary. But it looks like the oil, being hydrophilic, prevents moisture from getting out of the shells so I'll try it again.

Haven't tried out the freezing pre-baking method yet. I've just been occupied with ironing out other techniques for eclairs and I've too many other ideas for seasonal baking. Plus our freezer is pretty full now so I haven't been able to justify making of bunch of batches and just storing them in the freezer for later. But when I do try it I'll let you know the results.

I hope you like the pastry cream texture. If anything it's much quicker to make than the traditional method. And I think it's really neat that for a preparation as basic as pastry cream, people can still find a new way to make it.


Yes, try piercing the eclairs to release the steam, then return to the oven. I’m assuming you are drying your dough enough on the stovetop.

I’ll definitely let you know when I make the pastry cream.

I just got home from being evacuated. The power was off for some days, so I have to throw out everything in the fridge and freezer. I’m so mad cuz there was 8 lbs of butter in the fridge, half of which was Kerrygold:mad: These wildfires/blackouts have cost a pretty penny in spoiled food.
 
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Yes, try piercing the eclairs to release the steam, then return to the oven. I’m assuming you are drying your dough enough on the stovetop.

I’ll definitely let you know when I make the pastry cream.

I just got home from being evacuated. The power was off for some days, so I have to throw out everything in the fridge and freezer. I’m so mad cuz there was 8 lbs of butter in the fridge, half of which was Kerrygold:mad: These wildfires/blackouts have cost a pretty penny in spoiled food.
I honestly actually over-dried the paste that time, but decided to not add extra eggs and just go with it as-is to see how it'd go with a drier pate a choux.

Sucks to hear about that. Can't even imagine having to toss everything from the fridge and freezer at my folks' home - we even have two freezers and it's often times a struggle to fit everything in them. I might very well have 8lbs of butter myself stored in the freezer, though that'd be a small dent compared to the meat. Just a couple days ago my older brother and I were having a conversation about where we'd want to live. I've always said how I would like living in California, mainly for the weather, but then he reminded me about all the wildfires there. I guess they're more of an issue than I'd thought.
 
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I honestly actually over-dried the paste that time, but decided to not add extra eggs and just go with it as-is to see how it'd go with a drier pate a choux.

Sucks to hear about that. Can't even imagine having to toss everything from the fridge and freezer at my folks' home - we even have two freezers and it's often times a struggle to fit everything in them. I might very well have 8lbs of butter myself stored in the freezer, though that'd be a small dent compared to the meat. Just a couple days ago my older brother and I were having a conversation about where we'd want to live. I've always said how I would like living in California, mainly for the weather, but then he reminded me about all the wildfires there. I guess they're more of an issue than I'd thought.

Oh, that reminds me, if the panada (choux dough) is over cooked on the stove top, that too can cause it to not bake properly.

California has a lot of advantages. The wildfires in California have gotten worse in the past three years. I’m honestly considering moving east again.

kind of off topic...LOL. I totally relate to the freezer full of meat. I talked my brother into going in on a free standing freezer to put in his garage at the start of the pandemic so we could store extra meat. Then my sister, brother, and I bought a half steer from a local rancher. If I eat meat, I prefer it to be raised ethically and grazed on open pastures rather than penned up in a bare cattle lot and grain fed. My sister already had a second freezer at her house, so she took her share of the meat home. So the freezer at my brother’s was not full.

I was at my brother’s house during the evacuation and thought I would cook for everyone. So I went to the freezer for steaks. I couldn’t believe my sister in law filled it up with still more meat!! I guess there’s something about us old Asian moms—we worry about not having enough meat in the house, so we pack the freezer full:p
 

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