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Cahoot

Pastry Cream Consistency Troubleshooting

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I've some questions about the consistency of pastry cream after chilling. In the past, I used it after just chilling for a couple hours after making it, and it was a perfect consistency for piping as a filling. This time, I chilled it overnight using a slightly different recipe, and thoroughly whipped with an electric mixer it after taking it out of the fridge since it turned had into a single gelatinous mass after it set. Unfortunately, after whipping it, it turned from the solid mass into soup. I'm now trying to pinpoint exactly what caused this issue here and where I went wrong. 

 

1) Should (proper) pastry cream be just one solid mass after an overnight chill?

2) I heated the tempered egg-milk mixture until boiling then whisked for a couple minutes after, so I don't think it was a problem of not deactivating the amylase. However, there's the possibility I cooked it for too long and caused it to un-gel. In either case (undercooked or overcooked), would the pastry cream still have set in the fridge like it did? 

3) Am I not supposed to whip it afterwards before using it, or just whisk it less? I was thinking of just doing it by hand, but it was so gelatinous that I just decided to go with the electric mixer. For reference, I used what I thought was a pretty standard ratio of ingredients:

250ml milk (1 cup)

3 egg yolks

50g sugar

14g cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla extract

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1) Depends on the method you use. If you want your pastry cream ready to use after chilling, then it needs to be at the proper texture. You can use more starch than normal, get a gelatined "hard" pastry cream, then blitz it with an immersion blender or a food processor to get a fluid gel (beware that the more you blitz it, the more fluid it becomes, until it gets liquid).
2) Cooking times affect the gel strength: the more you cook it the stronger the gel, until you reach a point where it reverses (the more you continue cooking it, the more you weaken the gel). Not your case. Beware one thing about amylase: human saliva contains amylase, so never taste pastry cream with a spoon you licked before, even if it's just for your personal consumption.
3) You are not supposed to whip pastry cream. You can whip crème anglaise made with cream, not pastry cream. If you try to whip pastry cream you break the gel bonds, ruining the texture. In your case you used a bit much starch, you should change the amount to 10 g. If you use 14 g then you need to blitz it as explained in point 1).

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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2 hours ago, teonzo said:

1) Depends on the method you use. If you want your pastry cream ready to use after chilling, then it needs to be at the proper texture. You can use more starch than normal, get a gelatined "hard" pastry cream, then blitz it with an immersion blender or a food processor to get a fluid gel (beware that the more you blitz it, the more fluid it becomes, until it gets liquid).
2) Cooking times affect the gel strength: the more you cook it the stronger the gel, until you reach a point where it reverses (the more you continue cooking it, the more you weaken the gel). Not your case. Beware one thing about amylase: human saliva contains amylase, so never taste pastry cream with a spoon you licked before, even if it's just for your personal consumption.
3) You are not supposed to whip pastry cream. You can whip crème anglaise made with cream, not pastry cream. If you try to whip pastry cream you break the gel bonds, ruining the texture. In your case you used a bit much starch, you should change the amount to 10 g. If you use 14 g then you need to blitz it as explained in point 1).

 

 

 

Teo

 

Thanks for the clarification Teo! So essentially I should add less cornstarch to avoid having to blitz it after chilling, OR use an immersion blender/food processor instead of an electric mixer? Might be a dumb followup question, but how come an immersion blender or food processor would work to smooth out the cream, but an electric mixer can't - or would it still work as long as I used the flat beater attachments and not the whisk attachment? And in general, assuming you're not aiming for a "hard" pastry cream, what consistency do people cook it to? Most recipes just specify the amount of time, but that's not very useful when factoring in different levels of heat, different ratios of ingredients, etc. Of course I can/should test more to learn from personal experience, but I'd also like to minimize the amount of failed batches I make haha. 

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8 hours ago, Cahoot said:

So essentially I should add less cornstarch to avoid having to blitz it after chilling, OR use an immersion blender/food processor instead of an electric mixer?

 

Exactly.

 

 

 

8 hours ago, Cahoot said:

Might be a dumb followup question, but how come an immersion blender or food processor would work to smooth out the cream, but an electric mixer can't - or would it still work as long as I used the flat beater attachments and not the whisk attachment?

 

You need something with blades, not something that beats or whips. Blades cut through, beaters beat, 2 different effects.

 

 

 

8 hours ago, Cahoot said:

And in general, assuming you're not aiming for a "hard" pastry cream, what consistency do people cook it to?

 

Sorry but I don't know how to answer with written words to such a question. This is one of the things you show with the real example, I never heard / read words that can explain the desired consistency. My best answer would be "go to the best pastry shop near you, buy an item with pastry cream, that's the desired consistency". Not of help, but I don't know anything better.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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