Vanilla pastry cream, aka crème patissiere, is a thick French custard base for so many desserts. Rich, smooth and pudding-like in texture, pastry cream is used as a filling for tarts and profiteroles and can even be turned into buttercream.
Pour 1 ¼ cups of milk into a heavy based saucepan, and add sugar and vanilla, then heat on low-medium heat until steaming, stirring regularly to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup milk, egg yolks and cornflour until smooth and fully combined.
While whisking, very slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture in a slow but steady stream. Don’t pour it too quickly or the heat will scramble the eggs.
Once everything is combined, return the mix to the saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring with a whisk constantly, until it gets very thick and no longer settles into itself when you move it around. This will happen quite quickly after about 5 minutes so it’s important to keep gently whisking increasing intensity as it gets very thick. You will end up with lumpy custard if you don’t.
Swap to a silicone spatula and pass the custard through a strainer into a clean bowl, then press plastic wrap to the surface and allow to cool to room temperature.
Store the pastry cream in a container or bowl with plastic wrap pressed to the surface for 3-4 days.
Once it has been stored in the fridge, it will set quite firm. To use it, bring it to room temperature, then whisk until smooth before use.