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Pastry Cream for Zuppa Inglese Cake


This rich custard graces each layer of our classic Zuppa Inglese Cake.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2003


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla-bean scrapings and pod, and salt. Place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Using a measuring cup or a ladle, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Continue adding milk mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it has all been added. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture returns to a simmer and thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla-bean pod.

  3. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, and beat on medium until the butter melts and mixture cools, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream; this will prevent a skin from forming. Transfer to refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days. Just before using, remove from refrigerator and return to mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat until smooth, or whisk by hand until smooth.

Reviews Add a comment

  • maverickdesign1
    11 FEB, 2015
    I made this as a filling for a 4-layer cake stuffed w/bananas. After I finished cooking it, I wasn't happy. BUT the final step of mounting the butter and beating it made all the difference...changed it from 'bad rubbery pudding' into a delicious cake filling. Definitely worth the time to make. (Changed one thing; I used a double boiler to cook it to avoid the crust that sometimes forms when heating custards.)
  • Joit
    22 NOV, 2011
    4 tablespoons cornstarch CUT INTO PIECES?? Yet another mistake. Again... Martha! You need better editors. I'm constantly finding errors! Very frustrating.