Pastry cream is often used as a filling for mille feuille. It is a light egg custard mixture thickened with a little flour, it can be flavoured with vanilla, lemon, chocolate, liqueurs or chopped nuts. Whipped cream is folded into the finished cream to add lightness and create a soft, velvety texture.
4 oz (125 g) caster sugar
1 oz (25 g) plain flour
pinch of salt
1 pint (450 ml) milk
1 vanilla pod
2 strips of lemon peel
pinch of ground mace
5 fl oz (150 ml) double cream, whipped
1. Beat together the sugar and eggs until thick, light and creamy.
2. Sift the flour with a pinch of salt and gradually work into the mixture until smooth.
3. Put the milk in a pan with the vanilla pod, lemon peel and mace and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse. Strain.
4. Gradually pour the milk on to the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Return pastry cream to the pan, bring almost to the boil, stirring all the time to prevent the mixture burning.
5. Simmer, but do not boil, for about 2 minutes until thickened. Strain.
6. Leave to cool. To prevent a skin from forming, rub the surface with a knob of butter or press non PVC film directly on to the surface. Refrigerate until needed.
7. Pastry cream will keep for 2 days. Before serving beat the mixture until smooth, stir in whipped cream.
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