More hardy than whipped cream or crème Chantilly, pastry cream has numerous uses as a filling for éclairs or profiteroles and fruit tart bases.
Although quite simple to make, pastry cream does need swift stirring to avoid any lumps forming. If it does go lumpy beat it well when cold or whizz it in a food processor. You can flavour it in the same way as custard. Pastry cream will keep for up to 2 days covered in the refrigerator. Beat well before using.
Blend together 3egg yolks, 50g (2oz) caster sugar, ½teaspoonvanilla essence and 25g (1oz) each cornflour and plain flour in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Gradually mix in 450ml (¾pint) milk, stirring constantly as you pour.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and continue beating the mixture until thick. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, or the eggs could scramble. It helps to lift the bowl occasionally to check the water underneath.
The sauce is thick enough when the beaters leave a ribbon trail on the surface when lifted. For sabayon sauce, stir in 2tablespoonssherry or sweet white wine and cool, beating occasionally. Zabaglione is usually served hot straight from the pan in tall, elegant glasses.