Pastry Cream for Zuppa Inglese Cake

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

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


  • 2 cups whole milk

  • ½ cup sugar

  • ½ 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.

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