Pastry Buttercream Base for the Two Buttercream Layers

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    5½ cups

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About


milk 2⅓ cups (551 ml), divided 19.9 ounces 564 grams
cornstarch 3 tablespoons 1 ounce 28 grams
4 large egg yolks ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons (69 ml) 2.6 ounces 74 grams
1 vanilla bean (½ bean if Tahitian) . . .
granulated sugar 1 cup 7 ounces 200 grams
unsalted butter, preferably high fat (65° to 70°F/18° to 21°C) 3 sticks 12 ounces 340 grams

Cocoa and Walnut Pastry Buttercream Layer

walnut halves 1 cup 3.5 ounces 100 grams
Pastry Buttercream Base cups 18.7 ounces 530 grams
unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder 3 tablespoons (sifted before measuring) 0.5 ounce 14 grams


Prepare the Egg Mixture

Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over the bowl of a stand mixer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ cup/118 ml/4.3 ounces/121 grams of the milk and the cornstarch until smooth. Whisk in the egg yolks until completely blended.

Mix the Vanilla Bean with the Sugar

With a small sharp knife, split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise in half.

In a medium heavy saucepan, add the sugar. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar and rub them in with your fingers. Add the vanilla pod.

Complete the Pastry Cream

Add the remaining milk to the sugar and vanilla mixture, and scald it over medium heat, stirring often (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery). Whisk vigorously while adding ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture. Quickly add all of the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture, whisking rapidly. Continue whisking rapidly over medium heat for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is very thick and beginning to bubble.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it into the bowl. Use the back of a spoon or a silicone spatula to scrape any thickened cream from the bottom of the pan and press it through the strainer. Whisk it slightly. Coat a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and set it directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Set the cream aside to cool for 1 hour.

Refrigerate the pastry cream until cooled to 65° to 70°F/19° to 21°C, very gently folding it every 15 minutes. Between foldings, place plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. This will take about 2 hours. For faster cooling (under 1 hour), you can set the bowl in an ice water bath immediately after straining the pastry cream, folding every several minutes.