This vegan pastry cream is based on my easy vegan custard recipe. It comes together with just a few simple ingredients, and it's made without coconut, eggs, or dairy.
It's thicker than regular custard and holds its shape when cooled and sliced, making it the perfect filling for my vegan tarte aux fraises and other desserts.
🗒 What is pastry cream?
Crème pâtissière (pastry cream) was one of the staple recipes which I learned back in culinary school. Crème pâtissière (or crème pât as its often called) is a rich, thick custard that's based on egg yolks and thickened with flour.
It is often used as a filling in desserts such as fruit tarts, Mille-feuille, and choux buns. It also forms the base of diplomat cream, where it is mixed with cream for a lighter consistency.
🥛 Ingredients needed
Notes about the ingredients
I recommend using soy milk for the best results. I did also test this recipe with almond milk and it was also delicious. Cashew milk would also work well, but steer away from super watery milk like rice milk or oat milk.
This recipe calls for vegan block butter (butter sticks) not the spreadable kind from a tub. I have not tried it with margarine so I can't say how it will work, although it may not hold up as well due to its higher water content.
Cornstarch is what thickens this dairy-free pastry cream. As the recipe is also eggless, it needs to depend fully on the thickening properties of cornstarch.
The vanilla flavor is what really shines through in creme patissiere therefore I recommend using a real vanilla pod. You just can't beat it! Alternatively, go for vanilla bean paste over vanilla extract if at all possible.
🥣 How To Make this recipe
(Full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post)
Essentially, we're making a thickened vegan custard here, so the method is very similar to my vegan custard recipe.
To start, add the cornstarch and sugar to a saucepan along with the soy milk. Whisk the mixture really well to ensure that there are no visible lumps. You always want to add cornstarch to cold liquids where possible.
Scrape out the vanilla pod and add the seeds and pod to the saucepan over medium heat. Alternate between using a whisk and a rubber spatula to stir the mixture as it cooks. This helps the mixture to heat more evenly and prevents it from burning to the pan.
After 4-5 minutes, the mixture will become really thick. Remove it from the heat and stir in the sea salt and vegan butter until incorporated fully.
Lastly, pour the pastry cream into a bowl and cover it with some plastic wrap. This prevents air from getting at it which can cause the custard to form a skin. Chill the mixture for at least an hour before using.
🍰 Ways To Use Pastry Cream
This vegan crème pâtissière recipe makes the perfect eggless and dairy-free alternative to the classic version and is perfect for piping. It's so delicious it's almost impossible not to eat it straight from the spoon!
- Piped into eclairs, choux buns, or profiteroles (cream puffs).
- In puff pastry desserts such as mille-feuille.
- For filling cakes such as Boston cream pie.
- Piped into the centers of custard or Boston cream pie donuts.
- As a base filling for fruit tart, strawberry tart, rhubarb custard tart, and fruit flan.
👩🍳 Recipe success tips
How to fix lumpy pastry cream
Firstly, this shouldn't happen and you can prevent it by making sure that the cornstarch is whisked into the milk thoroughly before heating.
However, fear not! If the pastry cream has visible lumps before you've added the vegan butter, simply press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and that should get rid of them. If the custard is lumpy after it's chilled, don't worry, this is completely normal. Simply whisk the creme pat vigorously until it comes back to a creamy consistency.
💬 Frequently asked questions
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5-7 days. If used in desserts, factor this into their shelf life as well.
Pastry cream is a type of custard. According to Our Everyday Life, it is a starch-thickened custard. It is thicker than regular custard and holds its shape once chilled. Whereas other custards can have a looser pourable consistency.
I don't recommend freezing this recipe as it contains cornstarch, which can turn spongy when defrosted (via Cooks Info). Like with anything, there are exceptions to this rule (like vegan ice cream for example).
For no more than 2-3 hours. Pastry cream needs to remain chilled in order to hold its structure and freshness.
➕ More vegan basics
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- Add the soy milk, sugar, and cornstarch to a saucepan and whisk well to remove any lumps. Cut the vanilla pod down the center and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the saucepan and place on medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes whilst whisking. Alternate between using a whisk and rubber spatula to make sure the custard does not stick to the pan. The mixture will become thick once the cornstarch is cooked, remove it from the heat. Carefully remove the vanilla pod and stir in the vegan butter and salt until melted through.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm to prevent a skin from forming and allow the custard to cool for 10 minutes before transferring it to the fridge to cool fully for an hour before using.
Storage and Serving
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5-7 days. Use as a filling for fruit tart, strawberry tart, or choux buns.
- Swap soy milk for almond milk and cashew milk. I don't recommend using rice or oat milk due to its low-fat content.
- Some white sugar in the US is not vegan, if in doubt use organic sugar.
- You can use one tablespoon of vanilla bean paste in place of the vanilla pod.
- To save a lumpy consistency, pass the mixture through a sieve while still hot/warm.
- The pastry cream will thicken once chilled, whisk vigorously to bring it back to a creamy consistency.
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