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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Types of Pastry Creams

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There are many types of pastry creams out there. Pastries are food items made with a sweet dough of flour, fat, and water, usually with a filling of cream, fruits, or jam.

Cream is the thick white or yellow fatty part of milk that rises to the top when the milk is left to stand.

Cream is usually eaten alongside desserts, or used as an ingredient to cook for any creme patisserie.

Types of Pastry Creams

It is used in making several sweet foods such as ice cream, puddings, and cakes. Cream is used as a topping for several foods and fruits, and as an addition to hot beverages.

There are countless types of pastry creams, which are creams used by bakers and pastry chefs in the making, filling, and frosting of pastries. This term is not to be confused with the term “pastry cream” (crème pâtissière).

Listed below are some of the various pastry creams, along with their uses and ingredients. This information would be useful to you whether you are a food enthusiast looking to learn more about the food you consume, or a chef or cook trying to expand your cooking vocabulary.

Types of Cream Used in Making Pastries

1. Bavarian Cream

Henry & Henry Bavarian Cream Pastry and Cake Filling, Redi Pak, 2 Pound

Bavarian cream, also known as Bavarois or crème bavaroise, is a cream made chiefly with milk, eggs, whipped cream, and gelatin. It is made by thickening milk with eggs and gelatin and then folding the result into whipped cream.

This custard (a custard is a liquid, usually made of dairy products, that is thickened with eggs) tastes very light and airy in its simplest form. It can be flavored with several ingredients like chocolate, fruits, nuts, liqueurs, and vanilla.

Bavarian cream is usually an off-white color, with a hint of yellow-green. It is most commonly eaten as a dessert and topped with fruits like strawberries.

It can also be used as a topping for other desserts, or to stuff pastries like cakes, cream puffs, and donuts.

2. Buttercream

Buttermilk cream in a metal bowl
Buttermilk cream in a metal bowl.

Buttercream is also referred to as butter icing, frosting, or la crème au beurre. Its primary use is to coat, decorate or fill pastries like cakes and cupcakes.

The most common flavoring for this type of cream is vanilla but chocolates, fruits, and other liquid extracts can be used to flavor it.

The main ingredients used in the preparation of buttercream are fats and powdered sugar. Butter is usually used as the fat, but lard or margarine can be used as well. This cream is made by creaming butter, icing sugar, and vanilla scrapings, and then adding flavoring or coloring if so desired.

Six types of buttercream are common. These are American buttercream, flour or pudding style buttercream, French buttercream, German buttercream, Italian buttercream, and Swiss buttercream.

American Buttercream

American buttercream is a very simple buttercream made with whipped butter, icing sugar, and vanilla. To make it, cream butter with icing or confectioner’s sugar until the resultant mixture is spreadable.

Vanilla flavoring is usually added to the mixture, with room temperature milk. It is very sweet, thick, rich, and dense. Because of this, it is advisable to use American buttercream in a single layer, like frosting on a cupcake.

Flour or Pudding Style Buttercream

Flour buttercream is made with butter, sugar, flour, and milk. A pudding is first made by heating sugar, flour, and milk while whisking the mixture thoroughly.

The pudding is left to cool, then mixed with butter and vanilla until it is smooth and light.

This buttercream is also known as Ermine frosting. It is less sweet than American buttercream and so it is usually used as frosting in various layers on cupcakes or other similar pastries.

French Buttercream

French buttercream is made by pouring the heated sugar syrup into pâte à bombe, whisking the mixture until it is cool and then whisking butter in until the result is a fluffy cream. Pâte a bombe is an egg yolk foam made by mixing whole eggs and egg yolks together.

The process for making this variant of buttercream is somewhat more complicated than others. Because of its base, the end result is smooth and richer in color, flavor, and texture. It can be eaten on its own or used as layering for cakes.

It is however not recommended for those with weakened immune systems, like toddlers, the elderly, and pregnant women, to consume French buttercream. This is because it is made with raw eggs that are not pasteurized to reduce the risk of food-borne diseases like salmonella.

German Buttercream

In the making of German buttercream, butter is whipped into a custard base, and flavoring may be added. Its custard base gives the buttercream a yellow color. The buttercream is usually light in texture and taste but can be made thicker by making use of a thicker custard base.

Sometimes, pastry cream (crème pâtissière) is used as a base. It is then whipped, augmented with butter, and mixed until it is smooth.

Confectioners or icing sugar may also be added into the mix. German buttercream is mostly used for layering cakes and stuffing cupcakes and donuts.

Italian Buttercream

Italian buttercream, like the French variant, is made by pouring the hot syrup into a foam made of raw eggs into any Italian pastry(it is also not the most suitable for individuals with weakened immune systems).

Only egg whites are used to make the foam this time. The cream is a very light color, looking almost white.

Italian meringue is used as a base, a syrup is cooked, and egg whites are beaten to make a foam. The hot syrup and beaten egg whites are then mixed to make the meringue.

This is whipped until it is smooth. Italian buttercream can be colored and used to layer tall cakes.

Swiss Buttercream

To make Swiss buttercream, a Swiss-style meringue is used, but the eggs are not raw this time. The meringue is made by heating sugar and egg whites over a pot of moderately boiling water until the mixture is warm. The meringue is then whisked until it is cooler and light.

At this stage, butter is whisked in until the cream is light and fluffy. This type of buttercream is almost white and so it can be colored.

It is light, making it good for layering cakes, and easy to make. It is also safer to consume as the eggs are heated to a safe temperature with sugar.

3. English Cream

Clotted Cream - 6 oz

Also known as crème Anglaise, English cream is a custard sauce or pouring custard that can be eaten alone as a dessert, used as a topping for other pastries and desserts, or used as a base for other custards and various creams. It is made chiefly with egg yolks, milk, sugar, and vanilla bean extract.

To make English cream, the egg yolks are first beaten with sugar. Next, the milk is placed over heat and creamed.

An amount of the creamed milk is poured into the beaten egg yolks and whisked. The remainder is added to the eggs and the mixture is heated.

The resultant cream should be thick but also stirred for some more time. While still warm and more liquid, it can be used as a sauce or pouring custard for other desserts.

It is sometimes used as a base for making ice cream. When it is cooler, English cream may be eaten as a standalone dessert.

4. French Meringue

piped meringues on a dark tray
Piped meringues on a tray.

A meringue is simply a sweet food item made by mixing egg whites and sugar until stiff. The mixture may be baked until it is crisp, or used as a topping for desserts.

There are three main types of meringue, and French meringue is one of the three. It is also sometimes called a common meringue.

This type of meringue is made with egg whites, cream of tartar, and granulated sugar. Flavoring of any choice may be added afterward.

To make it, egg whites are whipped alongside the cream of tartar until the mixture becomes frothy. Granulated sugar is added in and whipped into a cream puff.

The meringue should be further whipped until it stands at desired peaks. If being used, the flavor is then added towards the end of the mixing.

French meringue is very light and airy and so it is used immediately. It may be eaten alone, used as a topping, or lightly baked on pastries like pies or cakes.

5. Ganache

chocolate ganache cream in a bowl
Chocolate ganache cream in a bowl.

Ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream, usually of equal weight. It is a sweet and creamy mixture used as icing, a sauce, or a filling for pastries.

Three basic kinds of ganaches can be made: dark chocolate ganache, milk chocolate ganache, and white chocolate ganache.

To make dark and milk chocolate ganache, three different ratios of the chocolate to the cream used may be applied to bring about three different finishes. To get a thick glaze finish, the ratio should be 1:1, an equal amount of both chocolate and cream being used.

The size of the chocolate should be twice the size of the cream to achieve a very hard and fudge-like glaze. Flip that around, and the amount of cream should be twice the amount of chocolate to achieve a thinner glaze.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

To make the dark chocolate ganache, dark chocolate is chopped while the cream is boiled. The chocolate is turned into the boiled cream but not heated.

Rather, it is given some time to melt into the cream. The ganache is then whisked to the desired consistency.

Milk Chocolate Ganache

The procedure for making milk chocolate ganache is the same as that of dark chocolate ganache, only that milk chocolate is used to make this type of ganache.

White Chocolate Ganache

White chocolate ganache is made quite differently. The amount of white chocolate used should be about thrice the amount of cream.

Both ingredients are mixed and put in a microwave to melt. When melted, the combination is mixed until smooth and left to cool.

6. Ice Cream Mix

Junket Ice Cream Mix Bundle - 2 Vanilla, 2 Chocolate, 2 Strawberry (6 Total)

Ice cream mix is simply the ice cream before it is frozen and flavored. It is a cream that contains all the ingredients of ice cream save for flavor and air.

It may be frozen to make ice cream or, like other types of creams, be used as a topping or filling for pastries and other desserts.

To make ice cream mix, the key items used are fresh cream, egg yolks, milk, and sugar. Half of the sugar is boiled with milk while the other half is beaten into the egg yolks.

When fully boiled, some measure of the milk is added to the egg yolk mixture to temper it.

The egg yolk mix is then added to the boiled milk and stirred until smooth. This combination is left to cool for a while and mixed with cream afterward.

If flavoring is desired, it is added at this stage and stirred. If frozen, this mix makes ice cream.

7. Italian Meringue

italian meringue cookies on a baking sheet
Italian meringue cookies on a baking sheet.

This type of meringue is very stable even without being baked. It is made with superfine sugar (caster sugar), water, and egg whites.

It may be used as a base for Italian frosting or buttercream or eaten by itself as a dessert.

To make Italian meringue, a syrup is first made by heating a mixture of sugar and water. The egg whites are beaten until they begin to foam, and the hot syrup is poured into the egg whites while still beating them.

The meringue is further whisked until it is cooled down to room temperature.

Italian meringue is mostly used as a topping for pastries and desserts. While it is stable, it is also soft and glossy, so it should be used immediately after it is made.

If flavoring is desired, it may be added to the water in small quantities before the syrup is made.

8. Lemon Cream

lemon meringue pie with lemon cream
Lemon meringue pie with lemon cream.

Lemon cream is a light and smooth type of pudding-like cream.

It may be used as a filling, spread, or topping for many pastries. You would need lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar, a little salt, and some unsalted butter to make it.

First, water is put to boil. The lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt are mixed and then stirred in another vessel over the boiling water until the combination becomes very thick. This cream is left to cool for a while.

The unsalted butter should be cut into pieces or chunks while the cream is cooling. The cream is then blended and the chunks of butter are added to it one at a time.

In the end, the cream is thick and pale yellow in color. Lemon cream may be used immediately after it is made or stored for later.

9. Pastry Cream

pastry cream up close
Pastry cream up-close.

Pastry cream, also known as crème pâtissière (“pastry cook’s cream” or “confectioner’s custard”), is a custard that is thick, rich, creamy, and thickened with flour. It is one of the most popular creams used by bakers and pastry chefs, especially in the making of French desserts.

To make pastry cream, the key ingredients are milk, sugar, eggs, cornflour (starch), and vanilla flavor. In preparation, milk is first boiled.

The eggs, cornflour, and sugar are mixed and then poured into the heated milk. This final mixture is then whisked until it is thick and cool.

This type of cream is commonly used as a filling for pastries or a topping for desserts. There are five common types of pastry cream (crème pâtissière).

Crème Chiboust (Chiboust Cream)

This is pastry cream mixed with Italian meringue.

Crème Diplomat (Diplomat Cream)

This is pastry cream mixed with whipped or chantilly cream and gelatin.

Crème Madame (Madam Cream)

This is pastry cream mixed with whipped cream.

Crème Mousseline (Muslin Cream)

This is pastry cream mixed with whipped butter.

Frangipane or Almond Cream

This is pastry cream mixed with almond cream. Almond cream is a mixture of butter, sugar, and almond powder.

10. Sabayon Cream

Sabayon cream with some strawberry on top
Sabayon cream with some strawberry on top.

Also known as zabaione, zabaglione, zabajone or simply sabayon, sabayon cream is a light custard eaten as an Italian dessert. By adding sweet wine or a spirit into the mix, it can be made into a beverage.

The main ingredients in the making of sabayon cream are egg yolks and sugar. A sweet wine, spirit, lemon, or coffee may be added to the mix.

The egg yolks are first whisked with sugar until they become foamy. The liquid of choice is added slowly and whisked.

Whisking continues until the mixture becomes thick, almost like custard. To make the cream thicker, whipped cream may be added.

Sabayon cream may be used as a topping for fruits or desserts.

11. Swiss Meringue

meringue with fresh raspberries
Meringue with fresh raspberries on a plate.

The last of the most common variations of meringue is the Swiss meringue, used as a base for Swiss buttercream or baked and eaten as a crunchy dessert.

The basic ingredients you need to make it are egg whites, sugar, and water. Vanilla extract and some salt may be added in as well.

To prepare the meringue, egg whites, sugar, and salt are mixed. The mixture of salt, sugar, and egg whites is stirred over a pot of moderately boiling water until the mixture is warm.

This is whisked until it is cooler, stiff, and light. The vanilla extract is then added in and mixed in.

Swiss meringue is best used right after preparation. It is mostly used as a frosting for cakes or cupcakes. It may also be baked and eaten as a standalone food item.

12. Truffle Cream

Black Tie Chefs Truffle Cream 2.8 Oz (80g)

A truffle, or chocolate truffle, is a mixture of chocolate and heavy cream with a ganache filling. It is made by coating chocolate ganache with cocoa powder, coconut, or toasted nuts.

To make truffle cream, the main ingredients are cooking cream, dark chocolate, and syrup.

The cream is first boiled and then down from the fire. Chopped chocolate is added and mixed until there is no lump or roughness.

The syrup is then mixed into the truffle and it is ready to use as a topping or frosting for cakes and other pastries.

13. Whipped Cream

whipped cream on a plain white background
Whipped cream on a plain white background.

Whipped cream is also sometimes called whipping cream. It is a heavy liquid cream. When sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla, it is called Chantilly cream.

Chantilly cream is a sweeter version of whipped cream, sweetened with confectioners’ sugar and not granulated sugar.

To make chantilly cream, you will need vanilla beans, heavy whipping cream, superfine sugar, and vanilla extract. Open and scrape the seeds away from the vanilla beans.

Keep the seeds and throw away the pods. Pour the cream over the seeds, then add the sugar and vanilla extract.

This mixture should be whipped until it forms desired peaks. It is then left to cool until it is time to serve. Whipped or chantilly cream can be used to fill and layer cakes, pastries, and desserts.

It may also be eaten on its own or alongside fresh fruit such as strawberries.

FAQs

Which cream is used for pastry cakes?

Different types of cream are used for pastries like cakes. The most common however is whipped or whipping cream.

What are the creams used in a bakery?

Thirteen (13) types of cream used in baking and the making of pastries are Bavarian cream, buttercream, English cream, French meringue, ganache, ice cream mix, Italian meringue, lemon cream, pastry cream, sabayon cream, Swiss meringue, truffle cream, and whipped cream.

What is creaming in pastry?

Creaming involves making a mixture of ingredients creamy by beating them together. In pastry, creaming is the process of mixing butter and sugar until the mixture is smooth, evenly blended, pale yellow, and soft.

Is pastry cream the same as custard?

Primarily, no. Pastry cream (crème pâtissière) is a custard but not all custards are pastry cream. A custard is simply a liquid thickened using eggs.

Conclusion

A large number of creams are used in the making, filling, and frosting of pastries. Listed above are thirteen (13) types of pastry creams with their ingredients and how they are commonly used or eaten.

Some types have different variations under them. Pastry creams are sweet food items that may be eaten as desserts by themselves, used in between layered pastries like cakes, or used as toppings for some other desserts.

Now that you know about different types of creams, how about getting one of these 3d printers to make cookie cutters with, so you can bake and fill some tasty cookies.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Hailey Montgomery

Hailey is a passionate culinary enthusiast with a flair for experimentation and creativity in the kitchen. Her innovative recipes and expertise in combining diverse flavors make her a go-to source for inspiring home cooks on their gastronomic journey.

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