Soupy Pastry Cream!

Baking By sparkledee3 Updated 14 Aug 2015 , 11:29am by Norcalhiker

sparkledee3 Posted 13 Aug 2015 , 5:38pm
post #1 of 6

Hi All,

I made Pastry Cream last night and at first was going to make a half recipe so I measured out 1/4 cup sugar (recipe called for 1/2 cup).  I changed my mind and decided to make the whole recipe after not wanting to figure out how to divide 5 egg yolks in half as I've never made pastry cream before and didn't want to mess it up. Well, I messed it up anyway!

I followed all the instructions exactly with the exception of the forgetting that I had measured out only half the sugar. The pastry cream came out beautiful! Lovely thickness, flavor and I was really pleased. I covered it immediately with plastic wrap touching the cream and let it cool half an hour on the counter before putting it in the fridge. It turned soupy within 20-30 minutes in the fridge. There was a lot of condensation on top of the plastic wrap, not in the bowl itself so I figured that was the point of laying the plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream.

I thought it would thicken up again, but this morning it is still like soup!! Delicious soup though. ;)  Could the reduction in sugar have caused this? Why was is so nice and thick immediately after cooking it though. I'm baffled! And... lastly, is there any way to salvage it or re-thicken it?  I used organic butter, eggs, and half and half, a vanilla bean, sugar and a pinch of salt.  the organic stuff and vanilla beans are not cheap - I hate to throw it out. I want to make it again, but want to be sure of what I did wrong.

5 replies
Amps.prkns Posted 13 Aug 2015 , 5:54pm
post #2 of 6

Hard to know what happened with out seeing a recipe. You could hear it up again, dissolve some corn starch with some cold water and then slowly pour it into the hot pastry cream while whisking. Add some let it thicken keep doing that till it's the consistency you want. Or you could make more and leave out half the liquid so it's super thick and fold the two together. You could add gelatin to it and it would be stiffer. Or turn it into ice cream ;)

sparkledee3 Posted 13 Aug 2015 , 6:18pm
post #3 of 6

Oh Ice Cream sounds great! :)


Norcalhiker Posted 14 Aug 2015 , 4:37am
post #4 of 6

Sugar is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture from the environment.  Example is if you leave a lollipop on the counter overnight, it's sticky in the morning.  So less sugar would not make your cream soft.  


You can try to salvage it by heating slowly over a double boiler.  Heat to about 175 degrees. 

Make a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and a cool liquid (cream, milk, or water)  

when pastry cream reaches 175, whisk in a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch mixture and keep whisking until it thickens.  Be careful not to add too much cornstarch mixture at once.  It needs heat to activate the thickening process, so add a little at a time.  But keep whisking until it thickens


cover as you did and chill for several hours  

sparkledee3 Posted 14 Aug 2015 , 5:43am
post #5 of 6

Thank you Norcalhiker for the suggestions. I am going to make a whole new batch and see what happens second time around as I've already gotten rid of the soupy batch. I'm wondering if perhaps I put it in the fridge when it was too warm. Thanks again!

Norcalhiker Posted 14 Aug 2015 , 11:29am
post #6 of 6

I don't think the refrigeration is the issue.  The culprit in runny pastry cream is the amylase enzyme in egg yolk.  If the egg yolk isn't tempered, properly, it won't deactivate the enzyme.  The enzyme will then breakdown the starch in the pastry cream, making it runny.  The starch in flour and/or cornstarch is the real thickener.  To destroy the enzyme, the yolk has to be heated above 185 degrees. 

The yolks need to boil briefly and be continuously whisked.   But heat slowly. Too high a heat, too fast, and too long will cause the eggs to curdle. 


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