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Chapter 15 Syrups, creams, custards, egg foams, and icings.


After reading this chapter, you should be able to

* describe the functions of ingredients and the processes for assorted syrups, creams, custards, egg foams, and icings.

* practice proper sanitation, hygiene, and storage in relation to syrups, custards, creams, egg foams, and icings.

* make the various syrups, creams, custards, egg foams, and icings presented in the chapter.

* troubleshoot problems involving syrups, creams, custards, egg foams, and icings.


This chapter presents several categories of preparations, all of which serve as foundations for elaborating and finishing pastries and cakes. These include sugar syrups, creams, egg foams, and icings; they are presented together because of their dependency on each other. For example, in order to make an Italian buttercream one first must know how to properly prepare a sugar syrup, and one must understand the whipping properties of egg whites in order to make an Italian meringue.


Sugar syrups are used for a wide range of pastry applications, including soaking cakes, making butter creams and meringues, and preparing for decorative sugar work. A sugar syrup is a combination of sugar and water that is brought to a boil and cooked to a certain temperature. In pastry, sugar syrups are defined by the ratio of sugar to water, as well as final cooking temperature.

Baume, which is the measurement used to quantify the sugar density of any given liquid, is an important factor in determining taste and stability. Baume is measured using a hydrometer, which is also referred to as a saccharometer. See Figure 15-1 for the relation between baume readings and sugar density.

One of the most common sugar syrups is simple syrup, which is made from equal weights of sugar and water and measures 28 degrees baume. Simple syrup can be used for soaking cakes or as a stock to pull from for other sugar syrup applications such as some decorative sugar work, glazes, and icings. 30 baume syrup--made with 137 parts of sugar to 100 parts of water-is also sometimes used as a simple syrup. Cake syrup has less sugar than water. A common ratio of water to sugar is somewhere between 2:1 and 4:3. Used to moisten cakes, it adds a minimal amount of sweetness.
Figure 15-1
Sugar Density/Baume Readings

Degree      Degree         Sugar in        Sugar in
Brix         Baume        1 qt Syrup      1 qt Water

20           11.10          6.40 oz         8.00 oz
21           11.70          6.72 oz         8.51 oz
22           12.20          7.04 oz         9.02 oz
23           12.80          7.36 oz         9.57 oz
24           13.30          7.68 oz        10.11 oz
25           13.90          8.00 oz        10.66 oz
26           14.40          8.32 oz        11.23 oz
27           15.00          8.64 oz        11.84 oz
28           15.60          8.96 oz        12.45 oz
29           16.20          9.28 oz        13.06 oz
30           16.70          9.60 oz        13.73 oz
31           17.20          9.92 oz        14.37 oz
32           17.80         10.24 oz        15.07 oz
33           18.30         10.56 oz        15.78 oz
34           18.90         10.88 oz      1 lb 0.48 oz
35           19.40         11.20 oz      1 lb 1.22 oz
36           20.00         11.52 oz      1 lb 2.02 oz
37           20.60         11.84 oz      1 lb 2.78 oz
38           21.10         12.16 oz      1 lb 3.61 oz
39           21.70         12.48 oz      1 lb 4.45 oz
40           22.20         12.80 oz      1 lb 5.34 oz
41           22.80         13.12 oz      1 lb 6.24 oz
42           23.30         13.44 oz      1 lb 7.17 oz
43           23.90         13.76 oz      1 lb 8.13 oz
44           24.40         14.08 oz      1 lb 9.15 oz
45           25.00         14.40 oz      1 lb 10.18 oz
46           25.60         14.72 oz      1 lb 11.26 oz
47           26.10         15.04 oz      1 lb 12.38 oz
48           26.70         15.36 oz      1 lb 13.54 oz
49           27.20         15.68 oz      1 lb 14.75 oz
50           27.80       1 lb 0.00 oz    2 lb 0.00 oz
51           28.30       1 lb 0.32 oz    2 lb 1.31 oz
52           28.90       1 lb 0.64 oz    2 lb 3.66 oz
53           29.40       1 lb 0.96 oz    2 lb 4.10 oz
54           30.00       1 lb 1.28 oz    2 lb 5.57 oz
55           30.60       1 lb 1.60 oz    2 lb 7.10 oz
56           31.10       1 lb 1.92 oz    2 lb 8.70 oz
57           31.70       1 lb 2.24 oz    2 lb 10.43 oz
58           32.20       1 lb 2.56 oz    2 lb 12.19 oz
59           32.80       1 lb 2.88 oz    2 lb 14.05 oz
60           33.30       1 lb 3.20 oz    3 lb 0.00 oz
61           34.40       1 lb 3.52 oz    3 lb 2.05 oz
62           33.90       1 1b 3.84 oz    3 lb 4.22 oz
63           35.00       1 lb 4.16 oz    3 lb 6.50 oz
64           35.60       1 1b 4.48 oz    3 lb 8.90 oz
65           36.10       1 lb 4.80 oz    3 lb 11.42 oz
66           36.70       1 lb 5.12 oz    3 lb 14.11 oz
67           37.20       1 lb 5.44 oz    4 lb 0.96 oz
68           37.80       1 lb 5.76 oz    4 lb 4.00 oz
69           38.30       1 lb 6.08 oz    4 lb 7.23 oz
70           38.90       1 lb 6.40 oz    4 lb 10.66 oz
71           39.40       1 lb 6.72 oz    4 lb 14.34 oz
72           40.00       1 lb 7.04 oz    5 lb 2.27 oz
73           40.60       1 lb 7.36 oz    5 lb 6.50 oz
74           41.10       1 lb 7.68 oz    5 lb 11.07 oz
75           41.70       1 lb 8.00 oz    6 lb 0.00 oz

Degree     Sugar in        Sugar in
Brix      1 kg Syrup      1 kg Water

20           200 g           250 g
21           210 g           266 g
22           220 g           282 g
23           230 g           299 g
24           240 g           316 g
25           250 g           333 g
26           260 g           351 g
27           270 g           370 g
28           280 g           389 g
29           290 g           408 g
30           300 g           429 g
31           310 g           449 g
32           320 g           471 g
33           330 g           493 g
34           340 g           515 g
35           350 g           538 g
36           360 g           563 g
37           370 g           587 g
38           380 g           613 g
39           390 g           639 g
40           400 g           667 g
41           410 g           695 g
42           420 g           724 g
43           430 g           754 g
44           440 g           786 g
45           450 g           818 g
46           460 g           852 g
47           470 g           887 g
48           480 g           923 g
49           490 g           961 g
50           500 g          1,000 g
51           510 g          1,041 g
52           520 g          1,083 g
53           530 g          1,128 g
54           540 g          1,174 g
55           550 g          1,222 g
56           560 g          1,272 g
57           570 g          1,326 g
58           580 g          1,381 g
59           590 g          1,439 g
60           600 g          1,500 g
61           610 g          1,564 g
62           620 g          1,632 g
63           630 g          1,703 g
64           640 g          1,778 g
65           650 g          1,857 g
66           660 g          1,941 g
67           670 g          2,030 g
68           680 g          2,125 g
69           690 g          2,226 g
70           700 g          2,333 g
71           710 g          2,448 g
72           720 g          2,571 g
73           730 g          2,703 g
74           740 g          2,846 g
75           750 g          3,000 g


A sugar syrup will always contain sugar and water. For many applications, cane sugar is preferable to beet sugar due to its purity in color and flavor. It is also more resistant to crystallization, which creates a rough texture in the final product. After sugar is dissolved into water and heated, it transforms into a liquid state. However, dissolved sugar naturally wants to return to crystalline form and will do so if there are any undissolved sugar crystals or foreign particles in the solution or on the walls of the pot or if there is excessive agitation. The cleanliness of the sugar is an important consideration because foreign particles will act as a catalyst for crystallization. Sugar used for syrups should be free from any foreign materials such as flour or nut meals. Finally, the water used should be of good quality. Any impurities in color and/or flavor can have a negative impact on the finished goods.

If other ingredients like zest, vanilla, and alcohol are used, they should be incorporated into the syrup during or after the cooking process. For ingredients that won't dissolve, like zest, a thinner syrup will prevent crystals from forming.

When preparing a sugar syrup of any density, following several guidelines will prevent crystallization. First, the water weight should be at least 30 percent of the sugar weight. Second, the sugar should be dissolved before the cooking process begins.

The cooking process begins when the water is placed in the pot, followed by the sugar. Next, the two are combined, but only to incorporation, and the heat is then set at medium high. If the heat is too high, it could crystallize the sugar. Also, if there is too much agitation from stirring, crystallization will occur. Finally, the sides of the pot should be washed down with cold water using a clean pastry brush to dissolve any sugar grains that are there. At a minimum, the sides of the pot should be washed down at the beginning of the cooking process and after the sugar and water have come to a boil. For sugar solutions that are boiled to higher temperatures, it may be necessary to brush down the sides more than twice.

If the sugar syrup is being used as a dessert syrup or as an element for a sorbet or if it is being reserved for other uses, the mixture should be covered and allowed to cool. Covering the syrup prevents excessive moisture loss and will help to maintain the desired sugar syrup density.


Cooked sugar solutions refer to sugar syrups that have been heated above the boiling point. They are often used for making sugar candies, doing decorative sugar work, or preparing items such as Italian meringue. As the temperature of the sugar syrup rises, water evaporates and the sugar syrup's density increases.

Although cooked sugar solutions may be fluid when hot, they firm up at cooler temperatures. This degree of setting during cooling is classified by terminology. For example, a sugar syrup cooked to between 300[degrees]F (149[degrees]C) and 310[degrees]F (154[degrees]C) sets up to be a firm hard mass (hard crack stage), whereas a sugar syrup cooked to 240[degrees]F (116[degrees]C) is malleable (soft ball) when cooled. Refer to Figure 15-2 to review the link between temperature, sugar concentration, and hardness.
Figure 15-2

Sugar and Hardness Temperature


"Thread" Stage         215[degrees]F (102[degrees]C) to
                         235[degrees]F (113[degrees]C)
"Soft Ball" Stage      235[degrees]F (113[degrees]C) to
                         240[degrees]F (116[degrees]C)
"Firm Ball" Stage      245[degrees]F (118[degrees]C) to
                         250[degrees]F (121[degrees]C)
"Hard Ball" Stage      250[degrees]F (121[degrees]C) to
                         265[degrees]F (129[degrees]C)
"Soft Crack" Stage     270[degrees]F (132[degrees]C) to
                         290[degrees]F (143[degrees]C)
"Hard Crack" Stage     300[degrees]F (149[degrees]C) to
                         310[degrees]F (154[degrees]C)
"Caramel" Stage        320[degrees]F (160[degrees]C) to
                         350[degrees]F (177[degrees]C)


Whether they garnish a dessert, fill a pastry, or serve as a component of an advanced preparation, creams are an essential ingredient in pastry applications. The four creams that serve as the foundations of pastry making are whipped cream, creme Chantilly, creme Anglaise, and pastry cream. These basic creams differ in composition but share one common characteristic: They are all dairy-based. Whipped cream and creme Chantilly are based on whipped heavy cream, whereas creme Anglaise and pastry cream are based on milk or a combination of milk and cream and are cooked over heat with other ingredients. The latter two creams are cooked-stirred custards and are thickened from eggs and/or starch. This section will also cover almond cream, a classic preparation that is very different from the others, but is also considered a basic cream. Almond cream is similar to a cake batter in mixing as well as formulation. It can be used as a filling in tarts and viennoiserie, as a cake layer, and as a base for a lightened almond cream: frangipane.


Whipped cream is heavy cream that has been whipped to increase its volume and lighten its texture. It is typically used as a component to create other creams, such as diplomat cream, as it is not sweetened. Cream with a fat content between 35 and 40 percent contains optimal whipping properties. Too little fat will inhibit the cream from whipping and the structure will be unstable, and too much fat will create a heavy, coarse texture.

Because fats develop and are more stable at colder temperatures, it is best to use cold cream for whipping. The bowl and whip attachment may also require cooling, depending on the room temperature. When whipping cream mechanically, use medium speed to ensure that it does not whip too quickly. This will create an imbalance in the fat and air bubble matrix, and the texture may become grainy. To fix slightly over-whipped cream, it is sometimes, though not always, possible to add some fresh cream and stir gently to incorporate.


Creme Chantilly is sweetened, vanilla-flavored whipped cream that is usually used as a garnish for dessert or, sometimes, to ice a cake. The degree of sweetness depends on the application; however, 15 percent sugar based on the weight of the cream is a standard starting point. Care should be taken not to overwhip the cream because the smooth texture will further develop during piping or application with an icing spatula, and it may turn grainy.

When making creme Chantilly, either powdered sugar or granulated sugar may be used and should be added during the beginning of the whipping process. Vanilla extract is usually used as a flavoring agent over fresh vanilla bean; however, some applications may use vanilla bean for flavor as well as to boost presentation.


Creme Anglaise is a cooked-stirred custard (a custard cooked on the stove stop with constant agitation) that may well be considered a sauce, even though it is classified as a cream. Essentially a thickened, flavor-enhanced cream, creme Anglaise is an extremely versatile preparation with a number of uses, from dessert sauces to bases for ice cream, butter cream, or mousse.

When preparing and working with creme Anglaise, special attention must be paid to temperature and sanitation. The cream must be cooked to at least 165[degrees]F (74[degrees]C) to ensure destruction of alpha-amylase, a harmful enzyme naturally present in eggs that will break down the cream prematurely. The cream should be cooked to 180[degrees]F (82[degrees]C) and not above to ensure that the egg content does not coagulate, and proper sanitation measures must be practiced to ensure the product is not contaminated.

Creme Anglaise Ingredients and Variations

The selection and quantity of ingredients dictate the richness and flavor of the creme Anglaise. Basic ingredients include milk, sugar, and egg yolk. Additional ingredients commonly used include cream and vanilla bean or vanilla extract.

Often, the liquid for a creme Anglaise preparation will include both milk and cream as a way of adding richness. When creme Anglaise is to be used as an ice cream base, or as the primary liquid for a ganache, a lower fat content may be needed to balance the total percent of fats in the final product, and milk may be used at 100 percent of the liquid. This will ensure a smoother mouthfeel and less grainy texture.

The amount of sugar used in a creme Anglaise preparation is determined by the final product. For dessert sauces, the standard is 20 percent sugar based on the weight of the liquid. If using a creme Anglaise with other components for a composed dessert, a larger or smaller quantity of sugar may be required.

The egg content of creme Anglaise is from egg yolk, which adds richness in fats and color and also acts as the cream's primary thickening agent. An average amount is 20 percent based on the weight of the liquid, but the range can be as low as 15 percent and as high as 35 percent.

Creme Anglaise is often flavored beyond the standard vanilla, with herbs, alcohols, nut pastes, and chocolate among the more popular choices. Fruit purees are not ideal flavoring agents because the acidity and fruit flavor interfere with the richness and creaminess of the sauce. The selection of flavoring agent will determine when it is added during the mixing process. The percentage of flavoring agents is determined by their composition and the formulation of the base Anglaise sauce. For example, using the same quantity of a 72 percent chocolate, rather than a 50 percent chocolate, will create a more intense chocolate flavor that may require more sugar in the final formula.


[1] Whisk the sugar and egg
yolks just until combined
while the liquids and vanilla
bean are coming to a boll.


[2] Temper one-third of the
liquid into the yolk-sugar
mixture, stir to combine,
and then return to the
pot to finish cooking


[3] While constantly agitating
the bottom of the pot,
carefully monitor the
temperature and do not
exceed 180[degrees]F (82[degrees]C).


[4] Once cooked, strain through
a fine chinois and cool

To create custom flavors, one can use hot or cold infusions. To create a hot infusion with an herb, spice, tea, or coffee, the milk and cream are heated with the chosen flavoring agent and are allowed to infuse, covered, for a given amount of time. The duration of the hot infusion depends on the intensity of the items being infused, the quantity of the liquid, and the desired flavors. A longer infusion will supply a more intense flavor; however, care should be taken during the flavor-building process to avoid introducing tannins and other off flavors.

Cold infusions differ in that the milk and cream are not heated before the infusion begins. The item to be infused is incorporated into the dairy, covered, and left to infuse under refrigeration. Before finishing the elaboration of the creme Anglaise, the infused item is strained. For some items that absorb a lot of liquid, and depending on the preparation, additional milk may need to be added to compensate for any loss of liquid volume. It is important to not add additional cream because there is a higher percentage of fat remaining in the liquid: It is not absorbed into the product being infused. The items used for the infusion absorb water and leave a higher level of fat in the infused liquid. Adding milk helps to balance the level of fats in the final product.

Flavorings such as alcohol, nut pastes, and chocolate are incorporated simply by stirring in the flavoring after the creme Anglaise has cooked. Nut pastes and chocolate should be incorporated soon after cooking is complete so that the heat of the cream will melt the chocolate and warm the fats in the nut paste and make them easier to fully mix in. Alcohol should not be added until after the creme Anglaise is off of the stove and cool, in order to preserve its flavors.

Preparing Creme Anglaise

The basic process for making creme Anglaise is straightforward in approach. However, care must be taken to ensure that it does not overcook or become contaminated during the cooking and cooling processes.

After all ingredients are scaled, the liquid (in this example, a combination of cream and milk) is brought to a boil with half of the sugar from the formula. The remaining sugar is added to the egg yolks, and the mixture is stirred to combine. (See Preparing Creme Anglaise Figure 15-3, Step 1.) When the liquid boils, a portion of it is tempered into the yolk mixture by pouring about one-third of the liquid into the yolks and stirring to incorporate the two mediums. (See Preparing Creme Anglaise Figure 15-3, Step 2.) If these two mediums are not stirred right away, some of the egg protein could coagulate. The yolk-cream mixture is then returned to the pot, and the mixture is cooked, while stirring, to 180[degrees]F (82[degrees]C). (See Preparing Creme Anglaise Figure 15-3, Step 3.)

If the creme Anglaise does not reach the target temperature, the egg protein will not achieve its maximum thickening power. Conversely, if the cream is overheated, the egg protein can coagulate, and there will be small egg particles as well as a pronounced egg flavor. If a creme Anglaise is overcooked, some professionals chose to use an immersion blender to break down all the small egg particles, while others prefer to start fresh. It is best to use caution and pay close attention to the temperature of the creme Anglaise to prevent any wasted product or time.

Doneness can be verified by temperature or by the viscosity of the cream on the spatula. Once the cream is cooked, it should be strained through a chinois into a clean container, covered to the surface and cooled down as quickly as possible. (See Preparing Creme Anglaise Figure 15-3, Step 4.) If the cream is not properly cooled, carryover cooking may occur and the egg protein could coagulate. When preparing larger batches, it is recommended to cool the creme Anglaise quickly over an ice bath. Proper hygiene, cooking, cooling, and storage must be practiced at all times.

With the preparation of any cream, especially cooked creams, it is always advisable to use clean, sanitized equipment made of stainless steel and silicone. This will prevent discoloration and contamination of the cream. Aluminum, non-heat-resistant plastic, or wood should never be used for cooked creams. Aluminum will react with the eggs and turn the sauce a greenish-gray color. Non-heat-resistant plastic will melt during the cooking process, and wooden utensils often harbor bacteria and off flavors and aromas.

Creme Anglaise Process

* Bring the milk, half of the sugar, and the vanilla bean (if using) to a boil.

* Combine the egg yolks and the remaining sugar and mix to incorporate, being careful not to incorporate air.

* Pour one-third of the boiled liquid over the egg yolk mixture, and stir to incorporate.

* Return the pot of liquid back to the heat and, while stirring, add the egg yolk-liquid mixture back to the pot.

* Cook over a low heat to 180[degrees]F (82[degrees]C), stirring constantly.

* Immediately strain the sauce into a clean, dry container, and cool it over an ice bath.

* Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for later use.


Like creme Anglaise, pastry cream is a cooked-stirred custard. This creamy custard is used as a filling or base cream in many classic and contemporary pastry items such as croissant and Danish, fresh fruit tarts, cream pies, butter creams, eclairs, and Napoleon cakes. It can be used fresh, for items such as a fresh fruit tart, or it can be baked as a filling for items like Danish pastry.

Pastry Cream Ingredients and Composition

Pastry cream differs from creme Anglaise in two distinct ways: composition and texture. The basic ingredients for pastry cream include milk, sugar, whole egg and/or egg yolk, cornstarch, and butter. Additional ingredients such as vanilla, zest, alcohols, chocolates, and nut pastes may be used for flavor development. Just as for creme Anglaise, cream or half-and-half can be substituted for all or a portion of the milk.

Most of the ingredients used for pastry cream are similar to creme Anglaise, with the exception of butter and cornstarch. The addition of butter to pastry cream softens the texture by weakening the gel phase of milk. Butter is also added to increase the richness in flavor. The starch, which bonds with the protein in the eggs and protects them from potentially curdling under higher heat, creates a thicker, more stable cream. The presence of starch requires a different temperature and final cooking process to ensure a smooth and supple product.


[1] After combining the sugar
and starch, whisk in the egg
yolks just to combine.


[2] Once the milk and vanilla
has come to a boil, temper
one-third of it into the sugar-starch-yolk
mixture, and then
return it to the pot to finish


[3] While whisking constantly,
bring the mixture to a
boil for 2 minutes.


[4] Add the butter and whisk
in to incorporate.


[5] Pour into a clean pan and
cover the surface of the cream
with plastic wrap.

Instead of cornstarch, some people may use modified starches designed for use in pastry cream, or they may even use flour. Flour is the least effective of thickening agents, partly because it contains protein, which interferes with the overall starch content.

Preparing Pastry Cream

The process of making pastry cream is the same as the process for making creme Anglaise; however, pastry cream must be brought to a boil in order to thicken the cream and fully swell the starch. The same hygiene, equipment, and sanitation requirements must be in place to prevent contamination.

After all the ingredients have been scaled, the liquid can be brought to a boil with half of the sugar and the vanilla bean, if used. The remaining sugar should be combined with the starch (for even dispersal), and the eggs should be combined with the starch-sugar mixture. (See Preparing Pastry Cream Figure 15-4, Step 1.) Once the liquid comes to a boil, about one-third of it is poured over the egg-sugar-starch mixture and the two mediums are stirred to combine. (See Preparing Pastry Cream Figure 15-4, Step 2.) Next, this mixture is returned to the pot, and the cream is stirred energetically with a whisk. It is critical to stir the bottom, especially the sides, to prevent scorching. (See Preparing Pastry Cream Figure 15-4, Step 3.)

The cream should thicken quickly and boil for 2 minutes after the first sign of boiling occurs. Next, the butter can be added off heat and stirred in to incorporate. (See Preparing Pastry Cream Figure 15-4, Step 4.) Finally, the cream should be poured into a clean, shallow container and covered to the surface with plastic wrap. (See Preparing Pastry Cream Figure 15-4, Step 5.) If it is not covered, the casein protein in the milk will react with the air, and a skin will form. The pastry cream should be refrigerated as soon as possible for rapid cooling to prevent bacterial growth.

Pastry Cream Process

* Scale the whole milk and some sugar into a stainless steel pot and bring it to a boil.

* Scale the remaining sugar and cornstarch into a bowl and mix to combine.

* Scale the egg yolks into the sugar-starch mixture and whisk until smooth and pale in appearance.

* After the milk comes to a boil, pour one-third of it onto the egg yolk mixture and stir to incorporate evenly.

* Return this mixture to the pot, stirring constantly.

* Continue to cook the custard while stirring until it has boiled for 2 minutes.

* Off heat, add the butter and stir until mixed in completely.

* Pour the pastry cream onto a clean, parchment-lined sheet pan and cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap.

* Refrigerate immediately and store until needed.

Pastry Cream Considerations

Like creme Anglaise, pastry cream should always be cooked in a pot made of stainless steel. Aluminum can discolor the pastry cream and wooden utensils should never be used. Fingers should never be put into the pastry cream. In addition, the strictest sanitation measures should be taken to avoid bacterial contamination.

The cream should be boiled for 2 full minutes, while stirring constantly, to evenly and fully swell the starch. If this happens at too slow of a rate, the pastry cream may be excessively fluid and if it is not cooked long enough, it may taste starchy and have a granular texture. Additionally, if the only egg product in the pastry cream is egg yolk, and for some reason the yolk has not coagulated by the time the pastry cream is done being made, a starch-digesting enzyme, alpha-amylase, will begin to break down the starch, and the cream will not gel once cool.

The completed cream should be poured into a clean, shallow vessel, and the top of the cream should be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated immediately. Before using, it will be necessary to slightly whisk the cream to make it smooth. At this point, the cream may be flavored. If overworked, the starch may break down, and the result can be a runny pastry cream with not enough strength.

As pastry cream ages, the starch breaks down and water begins to "weep" from the cream. This is referred to as syneresis. For this reason, pastry cream should be made in batch sizes that yield enough for 2 to 3 days' use.


Almond cream is used as a filling for a variety of baked goods, including the classic Pithivier, various Viennoiserie, fruit tarts, and cake layers. Its ingredients typically include butter, sugar, eggs, almond meal, flour, and rum. The quantity of almond meal used is much larger than the quantity of flour, with flour used only as a binding agent. Alternative nuts other than almonds may be used to create a unique filling.

The abundance of butter, sugar, and eggs in almond cream makes it rich and decadent, and the almond meal adds a strong nut flavor and lightly textured consistency. To create a light, cake-like texture, the creaming method is typically used. Other methods of preparation include the sponge method.

Almond paste is a common alternative to almond meal. Although it creates a smoother texture in the final product, it is important to pay attention to sugar content and to balance it in the final formula. For example, a "60-percent fruit" almond paste (one of several formulations available) contains 60 percent almond and 40 percent sugar by weight. Because of the high fat and sugar content in almond cream, it stores well under refrigeration for at least 1 week and can keep much longer in the freezer.


Frangipane is similar to almond cream but is much lighter in texture and flavor. It has the same versatility as almond cream in that it can be used in the preparation of cakes, tarts, and Viennoiserie, yet it lends a subtler, lighter flavor and texture.

In its simplest form, frangipane combines two parts of almond cream to one part of pastry cream, but it can be easily adjusted to create a lighter or heavier texture. Preparation is simple: the cool pastry cream is added to the almond cream and is incorporated using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer. Frangipane made with pastry cream should be used within 2 to 3 days to ensure the cream is fresh and free from contamination.


A baked custard is created by preparing a custard base that can contain whole eggs, egg yolks, or both; cream, milk, or both; and additional ingredients like sugar and flavorings. The ratio of egg to liquid and the type of liquid used will dictate the texture of the final custard. Baked custards that are turned out of their mold, such as creme caramel, require a higher ratio of egg to liquid, as they need to be able to stand alone. Baked custard, such as creme brulee and pot de creme, can be set with less egg per specified quantity of liquid because it is almost always contained within a ramekin or similar serving dish. Other baked custards include quiche and bread pudding.

The amount of sugar in a custard base will have an effect on its sensitivity to heat. Those that contain a small amount of sugar require gentle heating and constant attention, whereas those with a higher level of sugar are more heat-tolerant and less apt to curdle. This is due to the fact that the relatively large sugar molecules present in the liquid phase block the proteins' access to one another and slow down their bonding.

The basic process for preparing a custard base is straightforward. It mirrors the process for cooked-stirred custards up to the point of returning the mix to cook on the heat. For baked custard, all of the ingredients are tempered together and then deposited and baked.

The liquid, usually cream, should be heated with a portion of the sugar. The egg and/or egg yolk can be combined with the remaining sugar. When the liquid is close to a boil, it is slowly poured over the egg-sugar mixture and mixed to incorporate. Next, it is strained to remove any cooked egg particles, and then deposited into a ramekin or other specialty dish and baked as desired in a bain-marie.

It is important to understand a couple of key elements in this process. First, the coagulating properties of the protein within the egg set the liquid when the temperature is raised enough in the ambient heat of the oven. Often, baked custards are baked in a water bath in a low oven [300[degrees]F (149[degrees]C) deck oven] to ensure an even heat that will evenly set the custard. Second, custards should be baked just until they are barely set. The carryover cooking will finish setting the custard as it cools. If the custard is overbaked, the protein will not be able to hold the water, and the custard will curdle.

Custards and creams rely on heat to unfold the egg proteins. After this is accomplished, they reconnect in a delicate web that thickens the liquid. Heat also induces the proteins to coagulate and secure the new structure. However, as with whipping egg whites, there is danger in going too far. Loosely bound proteins hold and thicken the liquid, but excessive heat creates tight protein bonds that collapse the structure and curdle the cream or custard. The resulting graininess is formed by bits of cooked egg that separate from the mixture.


Creme brulee is possibly one of the most popular desserts in the Western world. This simple dessert consists of a rich and creamy baked custard with a thin layer of crisp and caramelized sugar coating the creamy filling. When served, the sugar should still be crisp and slightly warm, and the cream should have a slight chill. The spoon should resist cracking the sugar but should make a distinct sound once it breaks through.

Creme brulee is baked in a ramekin or a low, wide specialty dish that creates a large surface area for the most savored part of the dessert. Once baked, the creme brulee should be reserved in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours to thoroughly cool and set before it is served in the dish it was baked in.

Before serving, the dessert should be finished with the sugar. White sugar is the most common choice; however, dried granulated brown sugar does add additional flavors. Once a thin coat has been applied to the surface of the cream, a torch is used to evenly caramelize it without burning. Alternately, the sugar may be caramelized under a Salamander or under the broiler.


Creme caramel is a classic dessert prepared from a custard base similar to that of creme brulee. Creme caramel is formulated to be slightly firmer than creme brulee because it is turned out of its mold before serving. The trademark characteristic of this dessert is the caramel sauce that covers the dessert after it is turned out of the mold.

Before the custard base is prepared, the ramekins are coated with sugar prior to baking. This is done by cooking sugar to the caramel stage and pouring it into the molds to coat the base and walls, where it sets up quickly. While the sugar is cooling, the custard is prepared and then deposited and baked.

The baking guidelines are the same as for creme brulee, with care taken not to overbake. Once baked, creme caramel needs to be cooled in order to set before serving. After it has set, the creme caramel container is warmed in a bain-marie to release the caramel, and then it is inverted onto a dessert plate and garnished as desired.


Pot de creme is a baked custard that originated in the 18th century. Enjoyed by the elite of society, it was originally baked and served in specialty cups with ornate, hand-painted designs and gold trim. Pot de creme translates literally as "pot of cream" because the custard barely sets and is very silky in texture. Although pot de creme can have many flavors, chocolate is one of the most common. Today, it is typically served in ramekins or other specialty cups.

To prepare this dessert, the same process is followed as for creme brulee. It is important not to incorporate any air into the cream or over-whip the egg or egg yolks. If air is incorporated, it will cause the cream to rise slightly in the oven, and cracks may appear on the surface of the custard.

Baking guidelines for pot de creme are also similar to those creme brulee. The pot de creme should be baked at a low temperature in a water bath, and is sometimes covered during baking to prevent the formation of a crust. Once almost set, the custard is removed from the oven and allowed to thoroughly cool. Like creme brulee, pot de creme is served in the dish in which it was baked.


With its marked difference in texture, cheesecake is the unsuspected baked custard. The ingredient functions help it fit the profile. A creamy mixture of cream cheese, sour cream, butter, sugar, eggs, and flavoring, cheesecake is solely set by the coagulation of egg protein within the batter. Cheesecakes are often baked on top of rich, crumbly crusts made of sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter.

The success of cheesecake lies in the incorporation of ingredients and the baking of the batter. The ingredients, in their separate, singular states, vary in firmness and texture. Most importantly, the cream cheese is very firm, the sour cream very soft, and the eggs very fluid. To obtain a smooth batter, special attention must be paid to the mixing process and the temperature of the ingredients. All ingredients should be at room temperature to ensure even mixing and ingredient incorporation, and the bowl and paddle should be scraped down frequently to ensure even mixing.

To begin the process, the cream cheese is mixed until smooth and creamy using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Next, the soft butter is added and mixed until well incorporated. Next the sugar is added and mixed in well. After this, the eggs should be incorporated slowly to ensure a smooth batter. Once the eggs are well incorporated, the sour cream and any flavoring are added.

Although springform pans are commonly used for cheesecakes, they are best baked in traditional cake pans. A light coat of pan spray will ensure that the cheesecake and crust do not stick. Cheesecakes should be baked in a low oven and in a water bath to ensure an even bake. Like other baked custards, it is important that they not overbake. Once the cheesecake surface appears to "jiggle as a whole" it is a good sign that it is done.

After baking, the cake can be transferred to the refrigerator or freezer to cool and set. Once ready for removal from the pan, simply heat it in a bain-marie or with a torch and invert the pan onto a cake board. Next, invert the cake again onto another cake board so that it is right side up. The cheesecake can now be finished with fresh fruits, glazes, or lightly sweetened sour cream.


Classic and contemporary French-style pastry involves the use of a diverse range of cream preparations that are based on basic creams like whipped cream, pastry cream, and creme Anglaise. By combining basic creams with each other or additional components such as gelatin, egg foams, nut pastes, or chocolate, the pastry chef can create an impressive assortment of tastes and textures. Bordering on the qualifications of a true mousse, yet possessing equally desirable characteristics, these creams are easily prepared when key components such as pastry cream and creme Anglaise are on hand.


Creme St. Honore is a classic French cream that is not commonly used, but its preparation and special considerations are useful to know. It is also referred to as creme Chiboust, in honor of the pastry chef who created the cream for his famous Gateau St. Honore in the mid-19th century. While its base components of pastry cream and French or Italian meringue make it very light, it is not as stable as other creams with similar light textures. Gelatin is added to increase stability.

The ratio of pastry cream to meringue in this classic cream is about 4:1. The temperature of the pastry cream and the Italian meringue are critical. If either is too cool, the cream could collapse or lose its emulsion. The recommended shelf life for creme St. Honore is very short. If the cream is made with a French meringue, it is so susceptible to collapse and contamination that 12 hours is the maximum life. Preparations made with Italian meringue are more stable and should last up to 24 hours.

Creme St. Honore Process

* Bloom the gelatin and reserve.

* Make the pastry cream, add the gelatin off heat, and cool on low speed on a stand mixer with the whip attachment to 104[degrees]F (40[degrees]C).

* While the pastry cream is cooling, prepare an Italian meringue.

* While the meringue is still warm, fold one-third of the meringue into the smooth pastry cream to lighten it.

* Fold in the remaining meringue in thirds, taking caution to not overwork the cream.

* Use immediately, respecting the time frame for serving safely.


Creme Paris-Brest is the classic filling for the Paris-Brest pastry. A basic preparation uses 100 percent pastry cream, 50 percent butter, and about 25 percent praline paste. The ratio of butter can be increased for a heavier cream; however, note that setting properties for this cream come from the butter, and not enough butter will create a cream that is too soft. When making this cream, the base butter and praline paste should be at room temperature and free of lumps. The pastry cream should be cold to help set the butter and hold its shape. This cream must be used as soon as it is made. If allowed to set, it is difficult to work with and the emulsion may break. This cream is often applied using a star tip to present a larger volume without having to eat a large portion of such a rich cream.

Creme Paris-Brest Preparation

* Smooth the cold pastry cream and reserve.

* Smooth the room-temperature butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

* Add the praline paste to the butter, and mix until just combined.

* Add the smoothed pastry cream to the butter praline mixture, and mix just until incorporated.

* Pipe immediately into pastry and refrigerate.


Diplomat cream has its roots in a popular 19th-century French pudding: pudding Chateaubriand, which was introduced to Parisians by a famous diplomat's pastry chef. By definition, diplomat cream is a smooth and light cream prepared from pastry cream, whipped cream, and gelatin. It may be used as a filling in cakes, tarts, and pastries. This cream may also be referred to as creme legere.

Diplomat cream is convenient to make on short notice, or if a simple light cream is needed for desserts. Using a standard pastry cream as a base, all that is needed is whipped cream to lighten it and gelatin to stabilize and set it. For a lighter diplomat cream, a higher ratio of cream to pastry cream is used.

To begin the preparation, the whipping cream is brought to soft peaks. Next, the pasty cream is whipped until smooth. The gelatin is bloomed, melted, and tempered into the pastry cream base, and then the soft-peak whipped cream is added and folded in just to incorporation. Excessive folding may cause the cream to be overworked.

Diplomat cream must be deposited into cake molds or pastries as soon as possible because of the gelatin. Once deposited, products made with this cream can be stored under refrigeration for up to 48 hours, or they may be frozen. It is important to not freeze diplomat cream unless it is part of a finished dessert item. As with all cream preparations, sanitation guidelines must be followed to prevent contamination.

Diplomat Cream Preparation

* Follow the basic preparation method for pastry cream.

* Whip the cream to soft peaks and refrigerate.

* Bloom the gelatin in cold water.

* Add the bloomed gelatin to the hot pastry cream, and stir until dissolved.

* Mix the cream on low speed of a mixer until room temperature. Gently fold in the whipped cream and use immediately.


In French, "mousseline" refers to items that are light and delicate. The traditional mousseline cream combines pastry cream and soft butter that has been whipped until light and fluffy. It creates a cross between a pastry cream and a light butter cream that is very versatile and may be used as a filling in cakes, tarts, and pastries. Some may actually use a formula that combines pastry cream and buttercream to make mousseline cream. This cream is often served with fruit, such as the classic Le Frasier cake that combines an abundance of fresh strawberries and mousseline cream. In this and other preparations, the richness of the cream is balanced by the high quantity of fresh fruit. Mousseline cream is useful when making mille fuille or Napoleon cake as it can hold up well to the slicing of the pastry.

When preparing mousseline cream, it is important to cook the base pastry cream at a lower temperature than normal. This is because the pastry cream base has a high percentage of sugar, which is needed to sweeten the high quantity of butter that will be added, and it may scorch easily. After the pastry cream has been cooked, half of the butter is added to it. This mixture is allowed to cool, covered, in the refrigerator. After the cream is cool, but not too cold, it is placed in a mixing bowl fitted with the whip attachment and whipped until smooth. Next, the additional room-temperature butter is added and the cream is left to whip until full volume. At this point, it is ready for use.

Unused cream or finished products can be stored under refrigeration for up to 48 hours. Products made with mousseline cream freeze well and can last for several weeks in the freezer.

Mousseline Cream Process

* Prepare the pastry cream base.

* When finished, add half of the additional butter off heat with a whisk.

* Transfer the cream to a shallow container, and cool, covered with plastic, in the refrigerator.

* When it is cool, transfer it to a mixing bowl, add the remaining softened butter, and mix on medium speed to incorporate.

* Mix on high speed until the mixture doubles in volume.

* Flavor to taste and use.


Cremeux in French means "creamy." As a pastry item, it refers to a creme Anglaise-style custard that has been thickened with butter and sometimes gelatin. The flavoring options for cremeux are plentiful and include chocolate, fruit puree, nut pastes, and caramel. Cremeux fillings can be used as the filling for a tart or as an insert for a mousse cake.

The process of creating a cremeux begins with the creme Anglaise. After it has been made, bloomed gelatin sheets may be added to the hot creme Anglaise and stirred to incorporate the gelatin. If any ingredients such as chocolate or praline paste are to be added to the creme Anglaise base, they should be added while the base cream is hot. To fully emulsify the chocolate or praline paste, it is useful to use an immersion blender.

Once the cream is 86[degrees]F (30[degrees]C) to 95[degrees]F (35[degrees]C), the softened butter is added to the base. It is critical that the temperature is within this range and that the butter is at room temperature to ensure proper creaminess. If the cream base is too warm, it will melt the butter, and the cremeux will lose texture and body. To efficiently incorporate the butter, an immersion blender is recommended. It is essential not to incorporate any air, as this will create bubbles in the thickened mixture. After the cremeux has been finished, it can be deposited into blind-baked tart shells or into FlexiMolds for entremets or other uses.


[1] Strain the hot creme
Anglaise onto the


[2] Form an emulsion with
an immersion blender.


[3] The mixture should be
shiny and well umulsified.


[4] Portion as desired (chocolate
tarts displayed here) and
allow to set before finishing.

To preserve the integrity of the cremeux in tarts, a thin layer of clear mirror glaze must be applied over the creamy filling, or, if applicable, chocolate glaze. This will help prevent the moisture-rich cremeux from drying out and aging excessively, and will also help prevent oxidation and contamination. Cremeux has several special storage requirements. Finished products can be kept under refrigeration for up to 72 hours, and frozen for up to 1 week, if well wrapped.

Cremeux Process

* Prepare the basic creme Anglaise.

* Bloom the gelatin in water.

* Have the butter at room temperature.

* After the custard is cooked, add the gelatin and stir to incorporate. Strain into a clean, dry container, and cool over an ice bath.

* If using chocolate, add while the custard base is still hot, and form an emulsion. (See Cremeux Figure 15-5, Step 1.)

* When the mixture reaches 86[degrees]F (30[degrees]C) to 95[degrees]F (35[degrees]C), add the soft butter (if applicable) and incorporate it into the custard with an immersion blender. (See Cremeux Figure 15-5, Steps 2-3.) Deposit immediately into tart shells or molds for freezing. (See Cremeux Figure 15-5, Step 4.)


Egg foams are a critical component of classic and contemporary pastry making and are used in the creation of numerous creams, cakes, and desserts. They are possible because of a family of proteins know as albumins that are naturally found in egg whites, or albumen. Egg foams are formed from whipping whole eggs, egg yolks, or egg whites with sugar to create a lightened foam, or collection of air bubbles held together by denatured protein molecules. Meringues, or egg foams made from egg whites and sugar, vary in composition and results depending on the production method used, as well as the ratio of egg white to sugar.

Egg foams have been used for centuries. Meringue is said to have been created in a small town in Switzerland called Mieringen by a Swiss pastry chef named Gasparini around the year 1720. The meringue was introduced to France by Stanislaus; Marie Antoinette is said to have made them regularly at Versailles.

Egg foams fall into two categories: cooked and uncooked. Both can be baked, but this is not necessary. Cooked egg foams, such as the Italian meringue and the pate a bombe, are most likely to be used in mousse cakes or other ready-to-eat foods where an egg foam brings desired lightness.

An Italian meringue is classified as a cooked egg foam because it is made from egg whites and a sugar syrup that has been cooked to the firm ball stage. During the elaboration of the meringue, the egg whites are cooked from the heat of the sugar yet are still able to form a stable foam. Uncooked egg foams, such as the common meringue, are typically baked but are sometimes included in "raw" mousse preparations.


An understanding of the effects of fat on egg white foams is important to the discussion of meringue. First and foremost, it is essential that any egg white mixture be free of fat in order to obtain full volume from egg whites. Any yolk, natural skin oils, or greasy equipment will prevent egg white foams from forming, and poor meringue volume will result.

Meringue is a type of egg foam that is created by beating air into the egg white and stabilizing the mixture with sugar. The albumin proteins in the egg white (primarily conalbumin and ovomucin) become denatured when agitated and unravel, securing pockets of air and water that allow the creation of a stable egg foam.

The denaturing of protein in the albumin is the unfolding of protein chains. As they unravel and are whipped, these chains of protein do not break down; rather they form new bonds, interlinking chains of molecules and eventually trapping air and water in a delicate matrix of air bubbles. The bonds continue to form and reform if broken, and as the egg foam develops, the structure becomes more stable as the molecular connections become greater and greater.

During and after the foam creation process, ovalbumin (another important protein in egg whites) provides sustained structure as it goes through multiple stages of coagulation. This happens as it comes in con tact with air and during increasing temperatures in the oven or the mixer.

The addition of sugar has multiple effects on meringue. Sugar can delay the development of the meringue just as it can delay the development of gluten in bread. When higher quantities of sugar are used in a meringue, the proteins need longer to go through their process of unraveling and forming the bonds that secure the pockets of air and water. Sugar also helps reinforce the bond of water and air to the protein matrix. Without this additional bond, meringue may be more susceptible to falling or leaking water during the makeup or baking process.

Depending on the function and desired characteristics of the meringue, different formulas call for varying degrees of sugar. Higher quantities of sugar--some up to double the weight of sugar to egg white--will result in a denser foam with less volume that is more flexible and harder to overbeat. Baking at a low temperature will create a crisp meringue shell. Conversely, smaller quantities of sugar, such as equal weights sugar and egg white or less, yield softer, lighter foams with more volume. These are easier to overbeat, yet easily yield a stable meringue for piping or adding to formulas like cakes and lemon meringue pie.

Incorporating quantities of sugar that approach the 1:1 egg white-sugar ratio requires special action. To successfully produce a meringue, when whipping begins, the initial quantity of sugar with the egg white should not exceed one-third sugar to one part egg white. After the desired volume has been established, the remaining quantity of sugar can be quickly added as the machine is being turned off. If a larger ratio of sugar is needed, such as 1.5:1, any remaining sugar should be folded in with a spatula by hand.

Additional Ingredients for Meringue

A mildly acidic state adds strength to egg foams. The most commonly used ingredient for this is cream of tartar at a dosage of 0.05 percent, based on the weight of the egg whites. The slight acidification will not improve or damage the volume of the egg foam, but it will make it less likely to overcoagulate.

Contrary to the notion that a very small quantity of salt is beneficial to meringue, it has quite the opposite effect. Small additions of salt increase whipping time, penalize volume, and create less stability.


[1] Soft Peaks: The egg whites
have just enough strength to
form a stable foam.


[2] Medium Peaks: The egg
whites are more developed
and have more strength to
hold a firmer peak.


[3] Stiff Peaks: The egg whites
are fully developed and can
hold stiff peaks. If whipped
longer, the foam may begin to

Precautions for Meringue

When creating a meringue from egg whites, it is extremely important to work with clean utensils and egg whites with no residual yolk. Any oil or fat that comes into contact with the whites inhibits the creation of a stable foam. The temperature of the egg whites is also critical for success because cold egg whites inhibit the development of egg foam. To obtain maximum volume, they should be 59[degrees]F (15[degrees]C) to 68[degrees]F (20[degrees]C).

Controlling the development of the foam is also necessary for stability. Underwhipped foam will support too few connections of the albumen, and bubbles will be large and irregular. If it is overwhipped, the albumen will overcoagulate, and the foam will become "dry," break down, and weep water.

Categories of Meringue Development

The ability of meringue to hold its own shape is a sign of how much air has been beaten into it as well as the strength of the foam. For this reason, the terms "soft peak," "medium peak," and "stiff peak" and combinations such as "medium stiff peaks" describe meringue development. (See Meringue Development Figure 15-6.)

For applications such as piping decorative meringue shells, a stiff meringue is desired. This will ensure sharp visual lines and a smooth texture. For sponge cakes, where a less-developed foam is desirable, a medium and sometimes soft peak is all that is required. Controlling the amount of leavening for the baker is a direct result of the extent of meringue development. See Chapter 14 for a close look at specific gravity of cake batters and its affect on cake characteristics.


French meringue, also known as the common meringue, is created with a minimum ratio of one part egg whites to one part sugar. The quantity of sugar involved in the preparation will determine the final application. A 1:1 ratio of egg whites to sugar will yield a softer meringue, ideal for the topping of pies and inclusion into mousse or souffle items. Firmer meringues, made with a 1:2 ratio of egg whites to sugar, are used for classic, crisp results.

To begin making a French meringue (with a 1:1 egg white-sugar ratio), the whites are whipped at medium speed with a third of the sugar. The remainder of the sugar should be held back to encourage the development of the foam. During whipping, the bubbles will become smaller as the volume of the whites increases. The sugar should be added at the stage of desired meringue development, and whipping should continue only until the sugar is incorporated.

If a hard meringue is being made (2:1 egg white-sugar ratio), the second addition of sugar could take place while the machine is running on slow speed. Alternately, the second addition of sugar may be folded in by hand using a rubber spatula. If piping a number of items, it is best to keep the meringue mixing on a low speed to prevent the protein from coagulating. Additional meringue can be loaded into the pastry bag as needed.

French Meringue Process (1:1 Egg White-Sugar)

* In the bowl of a stainless steel mixer and using the whip attachment, begin whipping the egg whites with one-third of the sugar.

* Whip at a medium speed until the air bubbles become smaller and of uniform size.

* Increase the speed of the mixer and mix to stiff peaks.

* Add the remainder of the sugar and mix until incorporated.

* Use accordingly.

* If piping, reserve the unused meringue on a slow whipping speed to prevent coagulation.


Swiss meringue is denser and more stable than French meringue. It can be used for making crisp meringue cookies, as a base for buttercream, and also as a topping for cakes and pies. Swiss meringue is characterized by heating the egg whites and sugar before final whipping, a process that involves constant agitation to prevent the egg whites from scrambling. During this process, temperatures should range from 120[degrees]F (49[degrees]C) to 160[degrees]F (71[degrees]C). If the egg whites are constantly whisked, the sugar in the mixture will prevent them from cooking.

The final temperature will have an effect on the texture and food safety of the final product. Swiss meringue heated to 120[degrees]F (49[degrees]C) will be less dense; however, the use of nonpasteurized egg whites will require heating to 160[degrees]F (71[degrees]C) as a precautionary measure to destroy any bacteria that may be present. This is especially important for items that will not be baked. Higher temperatures also have an effect on the texture of baked meringue cookies because the density of the foam will be slightly altered by the heat variation.

Swiss Meringue Process

* In the bowl of a stainless steel mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar.

* Place the bowl over boiling water and heat the mixture to a temperature between 120[degrees]F (49[degrees]C) and 160[degrees]F (71[degrees]C), whisking constantly to avoid coagulation.

* Once the desired temperature is procured, place the bowl on a mixer fitted with the whip attachment and whip on a medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

* If piping, reserve the unused meringue, whipping slowly to prevent coagulation.


[1] The sugar, water, and
glucose (if any) are brought
to between 246[degrees]F (119[degrees]C)
and 250[degrees]F (121[degrees]C).


[2] After it is cooked to the
desired temperature,
carefully pour the syrup
onto the whipping egg


[3] The meringue should be
whipped until full volume
and proper temperature
for its intended use.


Italian meringue is a cooked meringue that is made using egg whites and a hot, cooked sugar syrup. The sugar syrup is carefully poured over the whipping whites, and the mixture is left to whip until cool. Italian meringue is very versatile and is commonly used in mousse cakes, as an addition to sorbets, as an icing, as the base for Italian buttercream, and as a topping for Baked Alaska and meringue-topped pies.

Of all the meringues, the preparation of the Italian meringue is the most involved. It is imperative to use room-temperature [68[degrees] (20[degrees]C) to 70[degrees]F (21[degrees]C)], fat-free whites and equipment, as well as a room-temperature mixing bowl. This will help ensure that the egg whites reach at least 160[degrees]F (71[degrees]C), at which point they are considered cooked. Using cold whites and/ or a cold bowl will not only hamper this goal, but it will compromise the volume of the final product.

To begin an Italian meringue, the sugar and water need to be cooked to 246[degrees]F (119[degrees]C) to 250[degrees]F (121[degrees]C), also known as the firm ball stage. While the sugar is cooking, the egg whites should be set up in a mixing bowl with the whip attachment. When the sugar reaches 240[degrees]F (116[degrees]C), the egg whites should begin whipping and should achieve half volume before the sugar is ready.

As the sugar syrup cooks, the sides of the pot should be washed down with water using a clean pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Just before the sugar reaches the firm ball stage, the pot should be taken off heat and the egg whites should be whipped at medium-high speed until a medium volume builds. As the sugar sits off heat, the temperature will continue to rise.

When the whites are at the appropriate volume and the sugar is at the correct temperature, the hot sugar syrup is slowly and carefully poured into the mixing bowl between the whipping whisk and the side of the bowl. Care should be taken to prevent the sugar from hitting the whisk and splattering around the edge of the bowl.

The rate at which sugar is added should be similar to the rate at which the sugar is incorporated into the whites. After all the sugar is added, the meringue is left to whip at medium-high speed until full volume is reached and the meringue has cooled to about 90[degrees]F (32[degrees]C).

Italian Meringue Process

* Combine the sugar and water in a pot and cook to the firm ball stage. (See Italian Meringue Figure 15-7, Step 1.)

* While it is cooking, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stainless steel mixer fitted with the whip attachment.

* When the sugar syrup is almost to the firm ball stage, at approximately 240[degrees]F (121[degrees]C), begin whipping the whites and take the sugar off the heat.

* Slowly add the sugar syrup when it reaches 246[degrees]F (119[degrees]C) to 250[degrees]F (121[degrees]C). (See Italian Meringue Figure 15-7, Step 2.)

* Whip at a medium-high speed for several minutes, and then mix on a lower speed until lukewarm to the touch. (See Italian Meringue Figure 15-7, Step 3.)

* Fold into mousse or use accordingly.

* If piping, slowly whip the reserved, unused meringue to prevent coagulation.


A peite a bombe is an egg foam made from egg yolks and cooked sugar. Pate a bombe bases are used for mousse cakes, as a base for French buttercream, and as a base for frozen desserts such as parfait. The pate a bombe mixture adds both a light texture and an added richness in flavor and color.

Pate a bombe can replace traditional meringues for producing mousse cakes and ice cream, but it lacks the structure and strength required of a meringue to stand alone and hold a peaked shape. The pate a bombe is ready for use once it has cooled, has at least tripled in volume, and can form a ribbon when dropped from the whip.

The process used to make this egg foam is exactly the same as for the Italian meringue. The difference is only that egg yolks are substituted in place of the egg whites. The lecithin in the yolks helps to maintain a smooth emulsion in mousse. To summarize the process, the hot sugar syrup is poured over the whipping yolks and the mixture is whipped until cool. As it whips, it lightens in color, increases in volume, and takes on an airy texture.

Pate a Bombe Process

* Combine the sugar and water in a pot, and cook to the firm ball stage.

* While it is cooking, place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stainless steel mixer fitted with the whip attachment and begin whipping.

* Slowly add the sugar syrup once it reaches 250[degrees]F (121[degrees]C).

* Whip at a medium-high speed until cool to the touch.

* Fold into mousse preparation or use accordingly.


Icing, which is sometimes referred to by the more limited term "frosting," covers a broad range of formulas that are used to fill, cover, or decorate cakes, pastries, or cookies. The main groups of icings include buttercreams, glazes, fondant, ganache, flat icing, and royal icing. Their composition, which ranges from thin to thick, depends on their specific applications.

Not only do icings improve the visual qualities of cake, but they also protect the cake from drying out. Icing can be used within the cake, or to decorate the outside. Icing can also be used to create ornamentation for the exterior of the cake, including an endless variety of borders, flowers, and other piped designs.

Specific icings are chosen for their function and appearance and because they complement the taste and texture of the composed cake or pastry. This balance of flavors, colors, textures, and taste is an integral part of success in the finished product.


Buttercream is the most common icing used for special occasion cakes, is widely enjoyed by many, and is a versatile choice for the baker. In its basic form, buttercream is sugar-sweetened whipped butter, though it is often further lightened with an egg foam or egg whites. Buttercream may be used to fill, ice, and decorate cakes and is sometimes used as a filling for cookies and other assorted pastries. The taste and texture of buttercream largely depend on its ingredients and the method in which it is produced.

The main types of buttercream include basic, decorator's, Italian, French, Swiss, and creme Anglaise buttercream. The method for producing each varies greatly.

Of all the ingredient choices for buttercream, the fat is the one that will explicitly determine the quality of the final product. Although butter is the favorite for flavor and mouthfeel, it is not always the first choice for two reasons. First, the high cost of butter can provide a challenge to the budget, and, second, its low melting point can be difficult to work with in warmer baking environments. Even so, it is important to keep consumer satisfaction in mind when making the choice.

Hydrogenated fats, on the other hand, lower the cost of buttercream and contain emulsifiers that can create a smoother, more stable product. The higher melting point of shortening makes buttercream easier to use. It can also be held at room temperature for longer periods of time during warmer weather. This is an important consideration for wedding cakes in hot climates, which can be displayed for long periods of time out of refrigeration.

Basic Buttercream

The essential ingredients for basic buttercream are powdered sugar and butter and/or icing shortening. Powdered sugar provides a better texture than granulated sugar, which does not dissolve very easily in such a low-moisture environment. The choice of fat will determine the mouthfeel, melting point, and color, with the pure white of icing-shortening producing a whiter, lighter icing, and butter imparting its natural yellow hues. If additional lightness is desired, pasteurized egg whites, water, or milk can be whipped in.

Basic Buttercream Process

* Sift the powdered sugar and add to a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle.

* Add the fat to the bowl and mix to combine.

* Whip at a medium-high speed and add pasteurized liquid egg whites, if using.

Swiss Buttercream

A Swiss buttercream is made with the stable base of a Swiss meringue. Once the meringue has been made, the softened butter is added slowly, and the buttercream is whipped to full volume. Swiss buttercream is not as light as one made from an Italian meringue, but the process is quicker and simpler.

Swiss Buttercream Process

* Prepare the Swiss meringue.

* When it is at full volume and cool, slowly add the softened butter.

* Whip until fully incorporated and light and fluffy.


[1] Add the soft butter to the
Italian meringue after it
has dropped to about 80[degrees]F


[2] After all the butter is
added, continue whipping.


[3] Whip until the buttercream
thickens, has good body,
and is well emulsified.

Italian Buttercream

Italian buttercream, with its characteristic lightness and stability, is a common choice among pastry chefs. As the name implies, it is based on an Italian meringue that is whipped to full volume and then brought to near room temperature before slowly adding softened butter. Then, the buttercream is whipped until light and fluffy. (See Italian Buttercream Figure 15-8, Steps 1-3.)

It is important to note that if too much of a temperature differential exists between the meringue and the butter, the emulsion may break or the butter may melt. To fix a broken or curdled buttercream it is best to continue whipping on high speed. The motion of the whip and natural fluctuation of temperature will eventually emulsify the buttercream. A common mistake is to use a torch to warm the bowl and thus the buttercream. This will warm the butter, and the additional motion will emulsify the buttercream; however, the buttercream will be dense and brittle because of the melted fats.

If the butter melts because the meringue is too warm, volume will be lost. The batch can be saved if the contents of the bowl are cooled and whipped to emulsify. If the resulting buttercream is unsatisfactory but usable, one option is to temper it into a good batch to avoid any waste.

Italian Buttercream Process

* Cook the sugar syrup and make the Italian meringue.

* Once cooled to room temperature, add the softened butter. (See Italian Buttercream Figure 15-8, Step 1.)

* Whip until light and fluffy. (See Italian Buttercream Figure 15-8, Steps 2-3.)

French Buttercream

French buttercream is the richest of all the egg foam-based buttercreams. Unlike the Italian and Swiss buttercreams, which are based on meringues, the French buttercream is based on a pate a bombe. This egg yolk-based egg foam adds an extraordinary amount of richness and color to the buttercream. Because it is significantly richer than other buttercreams, it is typically used in lower quantities to ensure that it doesn't overpower the other components of the cake or pastry.

Egg yolks reduce the shelf life of this icing. It should remain under refrigeration when not in use and can last up to 1 week in the refrigerator if well covered with plastic. Well-wrapped French buttercream can be stored for up to several months in the freezer.

French Buttercream Process

* Prepare and make the pate a bombe.

* Add the softened butter to the pate a bombe after it has cooled.

* Whip until light and fluffy, and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Creme Anglaise-Style Buttercream

The most flavorful of the buttercreams is creme Anglaise-style buttercream, also known as English buttercream. It is made using a creme Anglaise sauce, butter, and an Italian meringue. The tradeoff for creme Anglaise-style buttercream is that its high liquid content makes it the least stable and the most prone to spoilage. It must be used and served fresh. In addition, creme Anglaise-style buttercream does not freeze well because the high water content of the custard cream creates large quantities of ice crystals that damage the emulsion.

The creme Anglaise should be strained through a fine chinois and cooled as rapidly as possible in a mixer fitted with the whip attachment. At the same time, the Italian meringue can be started, and the butter can be softened. Once the custard base is at about 70[degrees]F (21[degrees]C) to 75[degrees]F (24[degrees]C), the softened butter can be added; it should then be mixed in to good incorporation. When the Italian meringue is cool, it can be mixed into the custard-butter base until well incorporated.

Creme Anglaise-Style Buttercream Process

* Prepare the creme Anglaise, strain, and whip on a stand mixer fitted with the whip.

* Prepare the Italian meringue, and whip it until it reaches room temperature.

* Soften the butter, and add it to the whipping creme Anglaise.

* Add the Italian meringue, and mix until incorporated.

Working With Buttercream

The ingredients used to formulate buttercream will determine its taste, texture, and working properties. Butter, with the lowest melting point of the hard fats, may be harder to use than a buttercream made with all or part shortening. High temperatures will cause the fats to melt and the buttercream to thin out so that the final product may not hold its form on the cake or produce clean lines. Conversely, a buttercream that is too cold will not spread easily and will be difficult to make smooth.

For these reasons, it is essential to work with the buttercream at the proper temperature. If it has been stored under refrigeration, it is best to remove it to soften approximately 1 hour before it is needed. If possible, buttercream stored in the freezer should be transferred to the refrigerator between 8 and 24 hours before it is needed, depending on the volume of the storage container. When it is at room temperature, it may be prepared for use.

It is important to ensure that buttercream for icing cakes is smooth and free of air pockets that could appear on the finished cake. The easiest way to work any air pockets out and make a smooth buttercream is to fill the bowl of a mixer to the surface (for smaller applications, a 5-quart mixer works well) and to whip the cream until smooth. It is crucial that the buttercream is over the whisk to ensure that no air is incorporated. Each pass of the whisk knocks air out of the cream. When the buttercream is smooth, it is ready to use.

The flavoring options for buttercream are endless. Fruit, chocolate, spice, nut, coffee, and liquor flavor variations are commonly created with various chocolates, nut pastes, extracts, and compounds. Because it is important not to add too much additional liquid, items like alcohol should be used as a percentage of the butter. Please refer to individual formulas for common percentages of add-in ingredients.

Of all buttercream flavorings, chocolate merits special mention. To avoid creating buttercream with chocolate chips, the chocolate must be tempered in. This tempering process has no relation to the temper ing of chocolate; however, it does relate to the gradual incorporation of chocolate into the cream as a whole. To begin the process, the chocolate should be melted to 120[degrees]F (49[degrees]C). Next, an equal weight of buttercream should be warmed slightly and then mixed into the chocolate using a whisk. This will diffuse the chocolate through the buttercream and prevent it from setting up (or creating chips). Finally, this mixture can be added to the reserved buttercream.

As with any pastry or food item, buttercream waste must be kept to a minimum. For example, it is not uncommon for amateur decorators to get crumbs into the buttercream during the filling and icing process. This crumbed buttercream should be kept separate from clean buttercream and should be used only on masking applications or added to chocolate buttercream used for filling layer cakes. Keeping crumbs out of buttercream may take a lot of work, but cake quality will be higher and waste lower.


Fondant is a cooked sugar syrup that has been cooled and agitated in order to crystallize the sugar and produce a smooth, white, creamy icing. It is often used on napoleons, eclairs, and Danish pastries. After it is applied to the product, fondant should set up and appear shiny and white. If it has been heated improperly, it may not set up, will appear dull and cloudy, and can be very hard. The temperature guidelines depend on the fondant manufacturer. In general, ready-to-use fondants, bought from pastry supply vendors, can be heated to 120[degrees]F (49[degrees]C). Fondant made from a dry mix (often referred to as drivert sugar) can only be heated to about 100[degrees]F (38[degrees]C).

Fondant is heated to turn it into a fluid that can be poured. If the fondant is the proper temperature and is still too thick, small amounts of simple syrup can be added and mixed in to achieve appropriate viscosity. Overheated fondant will become thicker sooner and, once set, will appear dull and cloudy. To achieve a firm glaze, some people overheat fondant on purpose; however, because this process results in a loss of visual appeal, another glaze with appropriate setting properties should be considered.

Working With Fondant

It is important to heat fondant over a bain-marie, stirring to heat evenly without incorporating air. A rubber spatula is the best tool. The fondant should be heated to between 100[degrees]F (38[degrees]C) and 120[degrees]F (49[degrees]C), depending on the type being used. Other heating techniques include using a microwave or a pot over direct heat.

If the fondant reaches the proper temperature but is still too thick, it can be thinned with a little simple syrup. If it is too thin, unheated fondant can be added and stirred in just to incorporation.

Both color and flavor can be added to the fondant. If multiple colors are to be added, staged coloring is ideal to limit waste. Using primary colors with the aid of a color wheel, the pastry chef should be able to achieve any color. For example, add yellow to white to create yellow; orange to yellow to create peach; red to peach to create red; blue to red to create purple. As a rule, it's best to go easy when adding color. Pastel tones are more appealing than bold ones.

For chocolate fondant, add 18 to 20 percent melted chocolate liquor, based on total weight of fondant. Other flavorings, such as coffee paste or extract, may also be added.


Chocolate glaze, which is essentially a thinned ganache, is a versatile finishing medium. It may be made with white chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate, as well as a number of other ingredients that include gelatin, cocoa powder, sugar syrups, and cream. The specific formulation will determine the viscosity of the glaze. For example, hard fats like cocoa butter and cocoa solids will have a major impact on thickness.

If cocoa butter or cocoa solids are not present in high enough quantities, gelatin can be used to balance the glaze thickness and setting properties. This is especially true for white chocolate and milk chocolate glazes, which have a lower percentage of cocoa than dark chocolate. A stable emulsion is essential for smoothness and to ensure a thin glossy glaze over the finished item.

Working With Chocolate Glaze

Temperature is a critical element for working with chocolate glazes, with the proper working temperature determined by the formula used. Items to be glazed should be cold at a minimum, but some, like mousse cakes, may need to be frozen.

Typically, items to be glazed should be placed on a pouring screen over a sheet pan covered with a clean sheet of parchment paper. Excess glaze will drip off of the cake onto the parchment and can be reused. Larger, difficult-to-transfer items like full-sheet opera cake can be glazed on the pan on which they were built. Whatever the size, glazing should be quick and even to ensure all areas of the cake are covered.


Less popular than chocolate glaze for icing cakes is ganache. Ganache is a creamy mixture made when a liquid, usually cream, is poured over chocolate, and an emulsion is formed. To create a dark chocolate ganache for glazing, it is ideal to use a 1:1 ratio of cream to chocolate and to add 7 to 10 percent glucose to the cream, based on weight. Adding glucose will slow down the molecular movement of the emulsion bonds and help retain moisture and prevent cracking. Ganache may be preferred for flavor over a chocolate glaze because it will likely be less sweet. Refer to Chapter 22 for more detailed information on ganache.

Working With Chocolate Ganache

Though stable in its emulsified state, ganache is susceptible to breaking if it is agitated too much. It is ideally used when it is freshly made. If ganache sets in the bowl or container in which it was prepared, it must be melted, a process that can pose some problems for the pastry chef. Ideally, the microwave should be used to gently heat the ganache until it is the proper temperature. (See Chapter 22 for more on heating and reusing ganache.)

As with chocolate glazes, ganache temperature is critical. The ganache needs to be used at the right moment to ensure a smooth, even, and shiny coating. The temperature guidelines for ganache are similar to those for chocolate glazes. One must consider the temperature of the item being glazed, as well as its size and the viscosity of the glaze. Chocolate ganache has less sugar than chocolate glaze and a higher concentration of hard fats. For these reasons, it sets up faster than glaze and there is greater chance for error. Pouring the cake must be a swift and concise operation. Once the cake has been glazed it should be returned to the freezer to "set up"; then it can be removed from the pouring screen and transferred as needed.


Easy to make and simple to use, fruit glaze gives the pastry chef the opportunity to finish cakes or pastries with vibrant, fresh colors and unique flavors. The composition of fruit glazes can vary considerably. They are often made completely in-house, using ingredients such as fruit puree, glucose, water, and gelatin. Hybrid versions can be made by adding ingredients like fruit puree, glucose, and gelatin to ready-to-use products like cold process clear glaze. Fruit glaze stability is good, and it lasts several days if stored well covered in the refrigerator. Once deposited onto a cake or pastry, shelf life is usually limited to 2 days before the glaze begins to oxidize and dehydrate.

Working With Fruit Glaze

Avoiding the incorporation of air when working with fruit glazes is essential. Air bubbles will show through and remain in the glaze once poured. As with chocolate glaze, the proper temperature of the glaze is critical. The viscosity of the glaze needs to be thin enough to pour yet thick enough to leave a thin layer over the cake. The temperature-sensitive gelatin (and pectin in commercially available ready-to-use products) needs to be warmed enough so that flow properties are positive, yet the glaze must cool and gel when contact is made with the cold entremets.


Royal icing is the classic icing. It is an icing that is easily piped, sets very firm, and can last, in decorative form, for many years. The basic ingredients include powdered sugar, water, and egg whites. It is also common to use egg white powder or meringue powder in place of fresh egg whites to ensure that it is free from bacteria. The ratio of sugar to liquid will determine the thickness of the icing. Thinner icing is used for "flood work"--a technique used to fill in piped shapes and create images. Royal icing can also be used as a medium for creating ornate decorative borders on cakes.

Royal icing is naturally white but can be colored as desired. It is best to used at room temperature. If it is made using fresh egg whites, it should be stored in the refrigerator. If it is made using meringue powder or dried egg whites, it may be stored at room temperature. Either way, it should be covered to the surface with a wet paper towel and then wrapped well with plastic wrap.


Flat icing, also known as water icing, is a quick preparation made from powdered sugar and a liquid such as milk, lemon juice, or water. If using milk, the addition of about 20 percent cream based on the weight of the milk will help the icing look whiter and creamier. Flat icing can be flavored with extracts, oils, fruit juices (especially lemon), and zest. It is frequently used as a glaze to decorate items like Danish pastries, brioche coffee cake, and hot cross buns.

Because it is important to not incorporate air bubbles, it is better to stir this product rather than whisk it. Proper consistency is important to ensure the glaze does not run out once it is piped. Flat icing may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and items it is applied to should be sold on the same day.


As the American palate has shifted toward lighter textures in recent years, creme Chantilly and other whipped toppings have become increasingly popular. When using creme Chantilly, it is important to not overwhip during the whipping process, as the cream will continue to develop during icing and could turn grainy. Gelatin can be added to creme Chantilly at a percentage of 1.5 to help stabilization. Whipped topping is a non-dairy-based whipped cream replacement and has a very smooth texture and bright appearance. The stabilizers and emulsifiers in it enable the cream to be very light and easy to work with. Many people have come to expect the light characteristics of this topping; however, it is not prized for its ingredient label and limited use (it cannot easily be used in mousse).

Italian meringue is a unique choice for icing. It is light, melts in your mouth, and can be visually textured using a torch for a dramatic visual effect. Because it is important to use Italian meringue before it sets, it should be applied while still slightly warm and the reserve should be kept in motion. Once the meringue is browned with the torch, it has a shelf life of up to 48 hours in a refrigerated case.
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Title Annotation:Part 1: PART 4 PASTRY
Author:Suas, Michel
Publication:Advanced Bread and Pastry
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Previous Article:Chapter 14 Cake mixing and baking.
Next Article:Chapter 15 Syrups, creams, custards, egg foams, and icings.

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