A velvety lemon custard filling for your cakes, pastries and various desserts
Italian lemon custard is one of the first recipes I’ve learnt when I started approaching to baking. And it’s one of my favourite desserts, too!
It is a thick, rich, citrus custard cream you can use as the perfect filling for little pastries, éclairs, tarts and many other desserts. I prefer it combined with puff pastry (to make a gorgeous Italian Millefoglie) or inside an Italian Sponge cake (find the Lemon sponge cake recipe here!).
Its citrus flavour makes lemon custard great with many different fruits or chocolate chips, and its velvety texture makes it irresistible!
The main ingredients for this recipe are four: milk, sugar, eggs and flour, plus lemon zest. In the remote case you don’t love lemon, you can use vanilla instead, or dried coconut, or orange zest, or chocolate… anything you want. But please, try this one first!
We don’t need to talk too much about lemon custard, since what counts the most is that you won’t manage to resist from tasting it after you’ll have made it and smelt it. Promise your dessert you’ll fill that, instead of polish off the whole custard before!
This recipe is quick and easy, and if you follow some tips you’ll get an amazing delight.
Here’s how to make a great Lemon custard filling, or Italian Crema Pasticcera
Ingredients (for a medium cake)
- Whole Milk, 1/2 Liter (or 0.9 pt)
- Egg yolks, medium, 4,
- Caster sugar, 80 gr. (or 2.8 oz, or 6 tbsp)
- All purpose flour, 2 heaping tbsp
- Lemon zest of 2 organic lemons
- Salt, a small pinch
First of all, pour the milk in a pot. Grate into the milk the lemon rind and let it rest for some minutes. I personally use a grater I find really useful to get a little sized zest and avoid to grate the white part of the rind, which has a bitter flavour. In case you don’t have a zester like that (you can find it here!), be careful not to grate the white rind.
On a low heat, bring the milk to simmer. You should do it slowly, in order to allow all the flavour to come out from the lemon zest to the milk.
In the mean time, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, the flour and the small pinch of salt. Beat them all together until they lose its grainy texture and its colour turns into a light yellow. You can either do it manually or with an electric whisk.
Now add the sifted flour (2 heaping tbsp) and continue whisking until it is well combined and there are no clumps.
When the milk starts simmering, pour it on the eggs mixture, straining it with a small colander to separate the lemon zest.
Combine the hot milk and the egg mixture together, until it gets a smooth texture, the pour it again into the pot. Reheat it on a low heat and continue stirring with the whisk, since the last thing you want is to have clumps in your lemon custard filling!
After a couple of minutes, the custard will start to thicken. Continue heating it until you can see some bubbles, which means, the milk has started to simmer again. Do not – ever – stop whisking, until you get the consistency you like.
Turn off the heat, your lemon custard is ready. Smell it and look at its lovely velvety texture! And beware, resist some minutes from tasting it, since it will be boiling hot!
Let the custard cool down completely, then fill the dessert you prefer.
Lemon custard filling – Italian crema pasticcera
- Prep time: 10 minutes to prepare, 3-5 minutes to cook
- Yield: it is enough to fill a medium cake or a tart, or to fill approx. 25 èclairs
- Tips: you can preserve the custard for up to three days inside the fridge, or freeze it. When the custard cools down, a thin solidified film normally forms on its surface. If that happens, you’ll just need to whisk the custard again, until all the clumps disappear.
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