Pastry Cream trouble-

Joined Jul 22, 2010
I'm terribly confused and frustrated with my pastry cream, and can't understand why, after years of beautiful results, I now consistently get tiny starch granules and often also pastry cream lumps that do not smooth out even with a little 'paddling'.

My current formula:

Milk - 2K

Sugar - 100

Vanilla - 15

Yolks- 500

Sugar- 300

Cornstarch - 200

Butter - 100

I originally began making  this 2X (beginning with 4K soymilk, as I was working in a Kosher patisserie) and always had

wonderful results. Later, as I ventured to other kitchens, I began using whole milk. Again, great results.

Later, as I started my own business and began making smaller batches (often 1/4X or 1/8X) in my home kitchen, I still never had trouble. Now, working out of a commercial catering kitchen- this lump and granule business just about EVERY time.

I always use flat-bottomed pots with straight sides, bring the milk to a boil, sift sugar & cornstarch and whisk yolks super-smooth after adding it. I constantly whisk after adding tempered yolks/sugar/cornstarch to boiling milk, bring the thickened mixture to a boil, add butter to finish,  then spread in plastic-wrapped sheet pans to cool. I always cover surface with plastic film as well. Sometimes I pass it through a china cap, before spreading into pans but that's VERY labor-intensive, or I will burr mix if I have mine handy. Nothing seems to help.

I have tried cooking longer (even after the initial boil of cream) , cooking at a lower temp. so it takes longer to thicken, and fine sifting the sugar/cornstarch. It seems that I keep finding tiny (uncooked?) starch granules in the cream, and even when it appears smooth and beautiful right after cooking; there are lumps that won't smooth out. Too much paddling makes the cream too soft too pipe into profiteroles or use as a cake filling. I nearly always fold fresh whipped cream into my cooled pastry cream  (about 30% of total cream wt.)

Any advice you can offer is appreciated. I have tried cooking in different pans on different heat sources- no help.

Thanks so much-
Joined Jun 27, 2012
The very first question I always ask is have you changed brands of anything but you are seasoned and would think of that first.
Second have you rubbed your starch between your fingers to check for course texture.
I asked someone this a few weeks ago and she found that her cocoa was a bit rough.
Hope it is that simple 'cuz otherwise you are kinda screwed...our reps are largely .based on the simple components we produce every day.

Joined Oct 10, 2005
Could be a cheap-er cornstarch or even a potato/cornstarch blend causing the trouble.  Looking back, what brands of cornstarch did you use?

I was taught to further cook the pastry cream another 2-3 minutes over very low heat once it thickens so all of the starch granules had burst open.  Even with lumps, the "proper" thing to do was to push the pastry cream through a sieve once cold to remove lumps--this also makes it easier to fold in whipped cream or other ingredients.

Hope this helps
Joined Jul 22, 2010
Holy mole-y; I can't believe that!

Now that you both have mentioned it; I really think that the ONLY difference IS that I've used a different corn starch! ( I think?!)

In the past, I think that the restaurants/bakeries that I worked always used Argo, and I probably used it at home as well.

In my new kitchen, I have used "Clabber Girl" and "Hodgeson's" (or "Hobson's" , whatever..)

I am going to totally try switching back! I will be so thrilled if this is the answer!


Any OTHER suggestions?! You guys are GOOD!

Joined Aug 21, 2004
I looked up Clabber Girl and it is fortified with calcium. That could possibly be the difference. Let us know what happens when you switch back.
Joined Jul 22, 2010
Thanks again for your input; you pointed out an obvious possible factor that I hadn't even considered.

I will certainly let you all know how it goes.

Anything else painfully conspicuous that I overlooked?  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  The stress of the holiday pastry onslaught has finally caught

up to me, I suppose......I'm shot. 

 I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts -

Thanks again-
Joined Jun 27, 2012
I was started in the kitchen at a young age and learned the standard techniques but the emphasis we place on local and seasonal ingredients was lacking back then.... just collecting the best ingredients from trusted sources was the accepted norm.

It was in nursing school that I learned to assess with critical thinking.

All the labs and scans are normal?

Look at your patient and really SEE and TOUCH and LISTEN to him/ followed the recipe step by step and it didn't turn out...look at, taste and touch your ingredients, then THINK about what info you have gathered.

Stop look and listen applies not only to the railroad crossings but to life as well.

Cook with all your senses and if you still cannot get it right then find a forum that draws cooks you can trust to offer up advice you can depend on.

That is how I stumbled upon CT ... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  ...for an answer to a problem I couldn't solve anywhere else.

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