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Pastry Cream

Yield: Yields 2-1/2 cups.

This classic vanilla and rum-flavored custard is the filling layer for Boston Cream Pie.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. dark rum (such as Myers’s)
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (spooned into a dry measure and leveled)
  • 3 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


  • Heat the milk in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat until very hot. If a skin forms on the milk’s surface, remove it. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, egg yolks, and salt in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on medium-high speed, add the sugar, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating about 30 seconds between additions. Continue beating until the mixture is very thick and pale, about another 3 minutes. On low speed, beat in the rum, vanilla, and cornstarch until smooth. Still on low speed, slowly add the hot milk, just a few dribbles at first and then in tablespoon-size dollops, beating after each addition only until smooth.
  • Scrape the mixture into the saucepan used to heat the milk and add the cold butter pieces. Set the pan over medium heat and stir constantly and gently with a heatproof rubber spatula, scraping all across the bottom and around the sides of the pan. As the mixture heats, it will thicken first at the bottom of the pan, and the mixture will look very lumpy. Decrease the heat slightly and keep stirring as the entire mixture approaches the boiling point and becomes even thicker and lumpier. Switch to a whisk and stir (don’t beat) to smooth the pastry cream. The custard won’t actually boil because it’s so thick. When very thick and smooth (after 7 to 8 minutes), reduce the heat to very low and continue stirring gently with the rubber spatula all over the bottom and sides of the pan for another 1 minute.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and immediately scrape the custard into a medium bowl. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard’s surface, let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight.  


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Reviews (3 reviews)

  • User avater
    TraceyRVail | 05/07/2019

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I really like it!

  • uniqling | 06/27/2016

    Delicious and has a nice consistency. I used rum, but added little bit less vanilla than the recipe stated, and it turned out great.I also sifted the cornstarch and ran the end cream mixture (after cooking and everything) through a sieve to ensure that there were no clumps in the end product.It turned out a bit to sweet, so next time I'll make sure to add less sugar.But other than that this is a great recipe. Just make sure to follow the instructions very carefully! I'll definitely be making this again; It tasted great in the fruit tarts I made.

  • User avater
    ColleenCC | 04/12/2009

    So good, so easy! I did not add the rum but left it vanilla only...and used it to fill a 2 layer banana cake. It was fast to make, simple (never made pastry cream before) and perfect thickness...I can't believe people think you can get away with using a packaged pudding instead when this is just as easy and tastes SO much better.

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