It's not often that I disagree with my fine UK based friend, - especially when it comes to sweet dishes. This one - however is the big exception. Crème patissiere is the backbone of dozens of sweet dishes, fruit tarts, profiteroles and croquembouche - not to mention numerous others, and most classic recipes will ask for flour - just like ascorbic's did.

Herein lies the problem - flour tastes floury, and the only way to get rid of that floury taste is to heat it to a certain temperature (around 85 °C or 170 °F) - and keep the mixture at that heat for several minutes. The above method is the one to choose when aiming for perfection. However, in the hands of a home cook, you can easily undercook the flour, leaving an unappetizing flavour. Or you can overcook the eggs, meaning your dessert will never hit the heights it could have achieved. If you are a little less confident in the kitchen, try this recipe as it leaves a larger margin for error.

Here is a foolproof method for crème patissiere. You will never find the great dessert chefs of Europe (or indeed - ascorbic) using this recipe, as it contains cornflour (cornstarch). What this means is that the setting temperature for the patissiere is higher than the temperature for cooking out the floury taste of cornflour - in other words, it is more forgiving to the novice chef, and you have a greater chance of success.

Once you have got a handle on the technique you can bring in all manner of flavours into the fray - vanilla bean, orange peel, cassia bark, star anise - whatever your imagination or budget allows. Just add them to the milk as you heat it up for a wonderful flavour.

Here's how to


  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 150 gm (5 oz) caster sugar
  • 50 gm (2 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) cream (35 % butterfat)
  • Method

    Heat the milk (and any flavouring you choose) gently until it comes to a simmer. Place the yolks, sugar and cornflour in a large (heatproof) bowl, and beat well to combine. Pour the hot milk onto the yolk mix and whisk to amalgamate. Pour this mixture into a clean saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until the mixture has JUST started to bubble, then take immediately off the heat and pass though a sieve to get rid of any lumps. Whip the cream to soft peaks, and then gently fold through the cool patissiere mixture to lighten it up a little.

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