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I am amateur and novice baker. I cannot differentiate the two recipes. Are they only different in proportion?

I know that the two are egg-based, mixed with sugar and starch and tempered with milk (or occasionally fresh cream) previously boiled with vanilla bean and then heated until it thickens. So what is the difference between the two?

3 Answers 3

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Crème Pâtissière is a thicker mixture, and is usually used for filling a pastry. It would be rolled into, or injected into something that would then be baked. As such, it needs to be thicker, so as not too leak out, and usually more flavourful, as it is the main flavour in the pastry.

Crème Anglaise is what the English would call custard. It is usually served as a "sauce" for sweet dishes. A classic dish would be apple crumble, served in a bowl with custard around it. The custard is there to add richness, and complement the flavour of the cake, and is therefore usually more subtle in flavour.

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    Another name for crème patisserie is confectioner's custard.
    – user23614
    Nov 15, 2015 at 11:39
  • Hello, @Carmi. I don't really doubt your statement, but do you have sources to back them? I've searched in a lot of places and I've seen different definitions. For instance, in one of them, custard was specified as being in between crème pâtissière and crème anglaise regarding thickness. In other, they called both crèmes as custard instead of the crème anglaise. Thus, I am a little confused with all the terminology... Feb 1, 2023 at 11:01
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    @MateusFelipe My experience seems to match yours: crème anglaise tends to be thinner in consistency (and lighter in colour) than common custard.  Similar usage, though.
    – gidds
    Apr 4 at 21:11
  • Also (@gidds) while ordinary custard may be served cold, as in trifle, it's generally hot. Crème Anglaise on the other hand is usually cold. At the same temperature it would be much runnier than custard. But they're all types of custard, which need more detailed names when it matters (as its the contents of a custard tart, which is thicker still).
    – Chris H
    Apr 11 at 14:58
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In a nutshell, both have the same ingredients, except crème pâtissière also has flour in it. That is the main difference.

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With the addition of flour (or cornstarch) you need to then boil the sauce to thicken it and to cook the thickener so it tastes good. (You do NOT want to eat raw flour!!! Ick!!!)

So the differences are mainly the thickening agent and the added boiling/cooking, resulting in a thicker sauce.

Creme anglaise is fairly runny. And not as heavily flavored as it is a supporting sauce while patisserie cream is much thicker and a more main ingredient of the dessert, and thus more strongly flavored!

Those are your main differences!

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