Sunday, January 16, 2011

Le15 Tutorials: Basic Sauces

As with cuisine and its basic sauces (Hollandaise, Béchamel, etc), pastry has its own which are core to French desserts. Two of the most versatile, Crème Pâtissière (pastry cream) and Crème Anglaise are used widely in fillings; the former in desserts like millefeuille, mousses and tart fillings, while the latter can be used on its own as a sauce or the base for ice cream or desserts such as crème brûlée. As with other custards, the above sauces use milk or cream and cooked egg yolks, and usually incorporate basic flavours such as vanilla or cinnamon – these can be changed according to what you’re implementing.

We will also be covering caramel, one of the most modest but most delightful sauces as well as mixed berry compote, keeping in mind the availability of fresh berries right now. Caramel is used for, well, caramel flavoured ice creams and desserts such as the South American dulce de leche. Have a look at this handy guide to different temperatures and the effects on sugar. Fruit compotes can be an accompaniment, be the base for dessert ‘soups’ or served on their own, usually topped with cream.

Recipe for Crème Pâtissière:

1 litre milk

250g powdered sugar

200g egg yolks (approximately 7 yolks)

90g starch in the form of custard powder or cornflour – this acts as a binding agent or thickener

100g butter, diced

20g cinnamon powder or 1 vanilla pod


  1. Whisk egg yolks to sugar and keep aside
  2. Heat milk over low heat and add starch and cinnamon/vanilla; keep whisking until thickens slightly
  3. Add a little of the milk mixture to the eggs and whisk. Once it is well mixed, pour this mixture back into the rest of the milk and keep whisking while heating. NOTE: A sudden rise of temperature can result in scrambled eggs so you could do this over a double boiler.
  4. When the eggs are suitably cooked, add butter, one cube at a time and whisk
  5. Pour the pastry cream through a sieve onto a pan to cool it – this usually takes 20 minutes at least. While cooling, cover with a cling film so that it doesn’t form a skin on the top

Recipe for Crème Anglaise:

250ml milk

250ml full-fat cream

100g egg yolks (3-4)

125g sugar

1 vanilla pod

  1. Whisk egg yolks to sugar and keep aside
  2. Bring the milk, cream and vanilla beans and bring mixture to simmer, and then remove from heat.
  3. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg yolks and once cooked pour back into the pan. Heat gently until the mixture thickens
  4. Strain and cover and leave it to cool


Recipe for Caramel Sauce:

250g sugar

50g water

50g butter, diced

50g cream

  1. Add water to sugar and put in a pan over heat. Initially, stir it, but don't once it bubbles as the sugar will form lumps.
  2. Caramelise it with a brown colour as per your liking. When this is achieved, add butter cubes individually and mix. Mix cream with the sauce and take off heat.

  3. Add a pinch of salt to balance out the sweetness and let it cool down. Once this is done, you can add spices if you wish for flavour.

Recipe for Berry Compote:

100g fresh raspberry

100g fresh strawberry

50g sugar

100ml water

15g cornflour

  1. Trim strawberries and cut into quarters. Add to raspberries in a pan
  2. Add water and sugar and optionally, spices such as cardamom or star anise. Optionally, add a knife tip of baking soda to enhance colour. Bring to a boil so that the fruits break down; once it comes to a boil, add diluted cornflour (mix it with a bit of water).
  3. Keep stirring over low heat until it has a very thick consistency. At this point, you can add more cooked fruit or juice to be reduced for a more intense flavour.
(If you wish to make a sauce, filter through a fine sieve)


Et Voila: caramel sauce, Crème Anglaise and a berry compote.

Mangal Dalal is a freelance food writer with a gluttonous and geeky disposition. You can contact him at (mangal.dalal [AT]


  1. My boyfriend gifted me a box of cup cakes in the limited edition Paris Carry Box.
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  2. pls let me know which brand is best for double cream which can be whipped

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