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I made a try of creme patissiere with 250 ml UHT milk at 1.5% fat (yes, hence I called it a try), two egg yolks, 22g corn starch, 70g sugar and vanilla. Direction as classic. Beat yolks with vanilla seeds and sugar, add starch. Meanwhile warm the milk and the vanilla bean and just before boiling add a part of it to the yolk mixture and stir; add more and then move everything back to the heat and stir until thick. Cool down in an ice bain marie. Let it sit at room temp with either film on the surface or a sprinkle of granulated sugar.

After less than an hour at room temp, I notice that the product is no longer creamy, became too solid and took the shape of the container. Far away from a cream. Can it be due to the lack of fat in the milk, it being UHT or too much time on the heat?

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    Ok, before use the cream should be re-whisked, but what about an already composed dessert in a glass after few hours in the fridge at 5-7 Celsius? – David Petrecca May 21 at 6:49
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Your recipe is fine, definitely in line with many Italian recipes for crema pasticciera, but is on the higher end of the starch quantity range I would recommend.

To salvage this batch you can:

  • Mix it with some whipped cream (1:2 ratio of whipped cream to pastry cream). This will make much lighter
  • Mix it in equal parts with a chocolate ganache. This makes for a great tart filling.

For your next batches you can:

  • Reduce the starch level. You don't need to take it all away, 10-15 per 250ml should be the ballpark for a smoother cream.
  • Instead of using all cornstarch, make it half cornstarch and half rice starch.
  • Avoid using flour instead of starches, as it would make it gummy
  • Feel free to increase the number of yolks to make it richer without being denser
  • If the cream needs to be cooked again after (for example you'll be using it as filling for something that will go in the oven), do not increase the yolks (the fat and protein acts as a vapour barrier), and use potato starch as the only starch
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The starch was superfluous. Traditional creme patisserie is made without it. Some people do make custards which combine starch and yolks, but they are actually more difficult to work with. Also, from your ratios, the starch alone (without the yolks) would suffice to make the shape-holding pudding you described.

You can repeat the whole cream without any starch, and as long as you use the right temperatures, it will give you a nice pastry cream. The UHT and the milkfat content are not a problem, you can do this with anything from pure water to conditor cream, and while you will get a large difference in texture between these two extremes, it will be a difference in "butteriness", you won't get a firm result.

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    I've never made a creme patissier without starch but it might be about Italian tradition :) Is it not gonna end up like a creme anglaise? – David Petrecca May 21 at 19:25
  • The only difference between creme patisserie and creme anglaise is in the ratio of yolk to dairy. If it ends up like creme anglaise (= runny), add more yolk in the next batch. – rumtscho May 22 at 6:18
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    Wow.. I'm assuming you're classically right.. but .. eg... Wikipedia on custards : " ....When starch is added, the result is called pastry cream (French: crème pâtissière)...".. this conforms to every recipe I've ever seen, too. – Robin Betts May 22 at 8:32
  • Maybe I try with less starch or is it the fridge too cold? – David Petrecca May 22 at 15:14

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