Crema Pasticcera Velutto

English translation:  Velvety Pastry Cream (Italian style)

Italian Pastry Cream is different from French Creme Patisserie in that the French add butter and tend to beat more vigorously.  The Italians treat their crema pasticerra more gently; exactly as velutto (velvet) should be treated.  Crema pasticerra is not difficult to make, but it requires some care and attention to ensure it does not curdle.  My Nonna used a copper Zabaglione pot to make crema pasticerra because it had a round bottom and conducted heat better.  When we found ourselves making crema pasticerra frequently, we found it was worth the investment for the reasons Nonna gave, but also because the entire contents of the pot are accessible to the whisk (or spoon) when stirring; thus, ensuring no crud in the bottom corners because there are no corners.  Look around carefully if you decide to purchase a Zabaglione pot because prices (and quality) can range from $39 to $200.  You want a thick, round bottom for the pot to be effective and not scorch your lovely crema.

Copper Pot

If you don’t have a copper pot, no worries.  Use a double boiler and just be VERY careful!

One hint:  As soon as your cooked crema pasticerra is done, make sure that you transfer it to a bowl to ensure it does not continue to cook further in the pot (and risk overcooking).

We use this crema pasticerra for many Italian pastries and American desserts.  Tomorrow we will be sharing with you our choice for the National Day of challenge for this week…no surprise…it includes our crema pasticerra!  Hope you enjoy.

Ciao for Now!

V & K

Crema Pasticerra

Battinburg Cakes Crema Pasticerra Velutto

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • A vanilla bean, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla plus 1/2 tsp almond extract)
  • The yolks of 6 very fresh eggs
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • A pinch of salt

Directions:

Set all but 1/2 cup of the milk to warm over low heat. Add the vanilla bean.  (If using extract, do not add now).  In the meantime, put water in the bottom of a double boiler and bring it to the brink of a simmer.  You will fit your copper pot into the bottom boiler pan when ready.

In the copper pot, lightly whisk the egg yolks to break them up.  Sift the flour into the bowl, whisking gently, and making sure that no lumps form. Next, whisk in the sugar and then the remaining half cup of milk, watching for lumps.

When the milk appears to be about ready to boil, remove and discard the vanilla bean.  Add the extracts.  Then slowly whisk the milk into the egg-and-milk mixture. Place the copper pot into the double boiler and cook over a low to medium flame, stirring gently, until it barely reaches a slow boil. Count to 120 while stirring constantly and it’s done. (Note — depending on your eggs and milk it may thicken to the proper consistency before it boils. It is done if it reaches the consistency of commercially-purchased plain yogurt.

Transfer it to a bowl and let it cool, gently stirring it often to keep a skin from forming across top. Two alternatives to stirring to keep the skin from forming are:

1) Reserve a tablespoon of the sugar and sprinkle on top of the cream when you set it aside to cool.  The sugar will melt and create a slightly watery surface that can simply be stirred into the cream before use.

2)  Cover with plastic wrap and ensure that the plastic wrap is laying on the top of the cream.

Chill thoroughly (at least 3 hours) to set.

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