This is an easy version of pastry cream.  Rather than being a traditional approach (most use cornstarch and a different cooking procedure), this version more closely resembles the filling used for cream pies.  This recipe will fill one small 5 inch tart.  You can double or triple the recipe to fill one large tart or two or three small tarts.


1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon butter


  • In a double boiler, combine the flour, sugar, and milk.  Cook the mixture in the top of the double boiler over medium-low to medium heat.  Whisk the mixture until it thickens.  Be patient—this can take about 20 minutes or so.  (As the mixture begins to thicken, it is important to whisk almost continuously to prevent lumps from forming.)
  • After the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency, place the egg yolks in a small bowl.  Mix a little of the cream filling with the eggs yolks to temper them.  This prevents scrambling the egg yolks.
  • Pour the egg yolk mixture into the double boiler with the rest of the cream filling.  Continue whisking until the cream filling thickens more.  This will take 2-4 minutes.
  • Remove the cream filling from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and butter.
  • To ensure the cream filling does not have any lumps, strain it through a mesh strainer.
  • Let the cream filling cool completely, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.
  • When the cream filling is cool, serve it or refrigerate it.  If you are refrigerating the filling in a bowl (rather than in the finished tart or other dessert), place plastic wrap on top of the filling so that the plastic wrap touches entire surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming on top.

If you don’t have a double boiler, just place a small amount of water in a pot.  Then place a heatproof bowl on top of the pot so that the heatproof bowl sits partially inside the pot but does not touch the water.