This is a really nice scratch Bavarian cream that I use for wedding cakes. Half a batch makes enough to fill an 8″ round cake torted with three layers of filling.
Scratch Vanilla Bavarian Cream
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 TB gelatin
5 large egg yolks (3 oz)
1-2/3 cup milk
1 ts vanilla (OR 1 bean, split)
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 TB optional kirsch (cherry liquor)
Chill bowl for whipping the cream. Have ready a fine strainer by the stove, suspended over a small mixing bowl.
In small heavy nonreactive saucepan, combine sugar, salt, gelatin, and yolks with wooden spoon. Heat milk and vanilla bean (if using liquid vanilla, add after sauce is cool) together to the boiling point. Stir a few TB into the egg mixture to temper the eggs, then gradually add remaining milk, stirring constantly.
Heat mixture, stirring constantly, to 170-180 degrees. Steam will begin to appear, and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. It will leave a well-defined track when a finger is run across the back of the spoon. Immediately remove from heat and pour through the strainer, scraping bottom of pan. Remove vanilla bean if using, scrape seeds into sauce, and stir to separate seeds.
In the chilled bowl, whip the cream until it mounds softly when dropped from a spoon; refrigerate.
Cool the sauce in an ice water bath, stirring with a large whisk until whisk marks barely begin to appear. The mixture will start to set around the edges but will still be very liquid. Whisk in optional kirsch and liquid vanilla (if using instead of bean), fold in the whipped cream until just incorporated. The mixture will be very soupy like melted ice cream. Remove from ice bath and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
This sets up nice and firm, enough so that when I fill cakes with it, I can sort of “slice” it out of the chilled bowl and lay the pieces on the cake tiers as filling; I don’t really spread it.