Crème légère and Crème Patissière

Here it is, my desert island/last meal/birthday wish food. The highest calling of eggs, sugar, flour and milk. I hope you give it a go!

Crème légère is basically Crème Patissière (a kind of thickened custard used in many classic pastries, for those of you who clearly haven’t watched enough bake-off) with whipped cream folded through it. It is also sometimes called Crème Diplomat, which is very confusing, but does not impinge on how delicious it is.

It can be used for many of the same things as Crème Pat, such as filling tarts and choux pastries. My favourite thing to do with it at this time of the year however, is to simply serve it in little bowls with plenty of the smallest, juiciest strawberries you can buy, find or grow, and a few crisp little biscuits (Almond Thin, anyone?). At other times of the year, I look forward to eating it with raspberries, blackberries, roasted stone fruits, poached pears. You get the idea!

The Crème Patissière is really easy to scale up (The photos below show a double quantity) which is great if you have lots of egg yolks to use up (as I did!) Just remember that 1 yolk = 1/2 teaspoon vanilla = 25g sugar = 10g flour = 100ml milk, and you’ll be fine.

My thanks to Richard Bertinet and his book ‘Pastry’ for this recipe, which I have tweaked only slightly.

Ingredients:

To make the Crème Patissière:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 50g sugar
  • 20g plain flour
  • 200ml whole milk

To finish the Crème Légère:

  • 150ml double cream (Play around with this quantity. Less cream will give you a slightly firmer result, which you may prefer if filling tarts for example. You can use more cream for a softer fluffier texture, or if you need it to stretch further.)
  • Seasonal fruit and crisp biscuits, to serve.

Method:

To make the Crème Patissière:

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the flour and mix until smooth.

Heat the milk in a small  heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat until it’s just below boiling. Pour the milk over the egg mixture very slowly, while whisking, until it is all combined. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Let it come to the boil, whisking all the time, then keep boiling and whisking for 1 minute. This is to ensure you cook the flour out properly, otherwise you will get an unpleasant raw flour taste.

Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cover the surface with a piece of damp greaseproof paper. Cool to room temperature then cover bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate until cold.  It can be made to this point 2-3 days before you need it and left in the fridge.

To finish the Crème Légère:

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the double cream until stiff peaks form. This can happen very suddenly, be careful not to over mix.

Remove the Crème Patissière from the fridge and whisk thoroughly until smooth and softened. Fold the Crème Patissière gently into the whipped cream, until fully combined. If needed you can refrigerate it for a couple of hours, but once you mix in the whipped cream, it is at it’s best eaten quite quickly.

Find a large spoon and somewhere to hide while you do so.

3 thoughts on “Crème légère and Crème Patissière”

  1. Be sure to wipe face with a damp cloth before you emerge from your secret cream-eating hidey-hole. My advice is to wield a medium size spoon quickly; too big a spoon may require additional sponging down of your shirt-front, hair, carpet.

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  2. […] Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Brush the reserved beaten egg over the pastry, and sprinkle on the demerara sugar if using. Bake the galette for about 40 minutes, or until the pastry is deeply crisp and golden brown, and the frangipane feels well set. You may need to turn the oven down a bit or turn your galette around if it is browning too much/unevenly. Leave to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before removing and placing on a serving plate. Serve when still a little warm with ice cream, custard, or my personal favourite, Crème légère. […]

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