This Vanilla Bavarian Cream - called Crème Bavaroise in French - is a super light and flavourful cream filling or dessert. It is made from combining a Pouring Custard (Crème Anglaise), Gelatine and Whipped Cream.
Why we love this recipe
Deliciously light and creamy, this Bavarian Cream is one of the most delicious cream filling or dessert you can make! Prepared with 6 simple ingredients, it is a delicate cream that is extremely versatile.
It is slightly lighter than the similar Diplomat Cream and creamier than the classic Pastry Cream. A Crème Bavaroise is perfect served on its one or used inside Choux à la Crème, Strawberry Charlotte Cake, inside Bavarian Cream Donuts or turned into a Chocolate Bavarian Cake.
What is Crème Bavaroise
Crème Bavaroise (or Bavarian Cream) is a traditional French Pastry recipe that combines Crème Anglaise (pouring Custard), Gelatine and Whipped Cream. It was created in France in 19th century by the chef Marie Antoine Carême.
It can be served on its own either in a cup like a Mousse or set in a mold like a Panna Cotta. Alternatively, it can be used as a Cream Filling for many pastries, desserts and cakes.
Scroll down to recipe card below for all quantities
What is Bavarian cream filling made of:
- Milk: use Full Cream / Whole Milk for the best flavour and texture. It will work with a plant-based / dairy-free milk too if needed.
- Vanilla: a fresh Vanilla Bean will give you the best flavour. Alternatively, use Vanilla Paste instead. Vanilla extract will work but won't give you as strong of a vanilla taste.
- Eggs: only the Egg Yolks, at room temperature. Keep the egg whites for another recipes like Financiers Cakes.
- Gelatine: I used Gelatine Powder dissolved in a little bit of cold water. You can use gelatine sheets or gelatine leaves instead too.
- Cream: Thickened or Heavy Cream - or a cream that contains at least 30% of fat. The fat content is very important here as a cream that has less than 30% fat won't whip.
- Chocolate: either add some cocoa powder to the milk or melt chocolate in the custard while still warm. For the chocolate option, the ratios will need to be slightly adjusted.
- Fruit: replace part (or all) of the milk with a fruit puree or juice like I did for this Lemon Meringue Cake.
- Coffee: add some instant coffee powder to the milk before heating it up to flavour the bavarian cream with coffee.
How to make Bavarian Cream step-by-step
Making the Crème Anglaise Base
The first step is to prepare a classic Crème Anglaise or pouring custard. It is the same process as making Pastry Cream but without the addition of any cornstarch or flour.
- Photo 1: Place the Milk in a medium size saucepan. Slice the Vanilla Bean in half, scrape the seeds and place them in the milk with the pod. Turn on low to medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Then turn off the stove, cover the saucepan and leave to infuse for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Photo 2: While the milk is infusing, place the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until combined.
- Photo 3: Slowly pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture while whisking.
This step allows to temper the eggs and avoid heating them up too quickly once in the saucepan.
- Photo 4: Transfer the whole egg mixture back into the saucepan and turn on low heat. Make sure to scrape all the vanilla specks for the bowl.
Folding in the Whipped Cream
- Photo 5: Cook for 5 to 10 minutes on low heat or until the cream has thickened. Make sure to continuously stir so that the custard does not burn at the bottom of the saucepan. Don't let the mixture boil or the eggs will curdle.
To know the custard has cooked enough, either use a thermometer (it is ready when it reaches 82 degree Celsius or 180 degree Fahrenheit) or dip the back of a spoon in the mixture. The custard should coat the spoon and if you draw a line through the liquid and tip the spoon down, the line stays should stay clear.
- Photo 6: In a small bowl, mix together the Gelatin Powder and cold Water. When thickened, add the gelatin mixture to the warm custard and whisk well until completely dissolved.
- Transfer the custard into a clean large bowl (or shallow dish) and cover with plastic wrap touching its surface. Place in the fridge to cool down for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It shouldn't feel warm to the touch anymore.
If the custard has started to set with the gelatine, vigorously whisk it to loosen it. If it has completely set, you can try to blend it on slow with an immersion blender.
- Photo 7: Place the cold Heavy / Thickened Cream in a clean bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer). Whip until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Photo 8: Slowly and gently fold the whipped cream into the custard in 3 or 4 times.
To use as a dessert, directly pour into serving cups or silicone mold and place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours. Serve with a fruit compote or coulis.
To use as a filling for pastries (for filling Cream Puffs or inside a Tart for example), you can use the bavarian cream straight away or store it in the fridge until ready to use. Loosen with a spatula or whisk before using.
If the cream is going to be piped (or needs to be stiff enough to hold its shape like for a cake filling), place in the fridge for about 2 hours to set before using.
Bavarian Cream is made from a Crème Anglaise base (milk, vanilla, egg yolks and sugar), thickened with Gelatine and lightened with Whipped Cream.
Pastry Cream (or Crème Pâtissière) is relatively similar to a Crème Anglaise but is thickened on the stove with Cornstarch (or sometimes flour). It is richer and not as stable as a Bavaroise.
The classic bavarian cream is flavoured with Vanilla. It has the rich flavour of a classic custard but with a lighter, creamier taste thanks to the addition of Whipped Cream.
It depends how you plan on using the cream. To serve as a dessert (set inside a mold), intend to pipe it or use as a cake filling like inside this Strawberry Charlotte Cake, the cream will need the gelatine as a stabiliser.
To use as a cream filling inside pastries (like a filling for Choux au Craquelin for example) or any uses that doesn't require the cream to hold its shape well, you could discard the gelatine.
Tips & Troubleshooting
- The custard base is grainy or lumpy: it usually happens if the temperature was too high and the egg yolks started to curdle. Pour the custard through a thin mesh sieve to remove large lumps. As a last resort, use an immersion blender (on very low speed) to break down the lumps.
- The custard has completely set in the fridge: ideally, you don't want to let the custard set completely in the fridge before folding in the whipped cream. You can add the whipped cream when the custard is at room temperature. If the gelatine has set, vigorously whisk the custard to loosen it. As a last resort, use an immersion blender (on very low speed) to smooth it out.
- The bavarian cream is very soft: it needs longer in the fridge, the gelatin wasn't dissolved properly or or the whipped cream wasn't well folded in and deflated. Depending on how you plan on using the cream, you might want to slightly increase the quantity of gelatine and/or whipped cream so the bavarois is more stable.
How to use Bavarois Cream
Bavarian cream can be used in two different ways: on its own as a dessert (either set in a serving cup or inside a silicone mold), or used as a filling or topping for pastries, cakes and desserts.
- As a dessert: finish the cream with some fruit such as Blueberry Compote, Passion Fruit Curd, Raspberry Coulis, Stewed Rhubarb or Mango Coulis.
- As a filling for pastries: inside Choux à la Crème (French Cream Puffs), as the cream for Mini Fruit Tarts or inside Brioche Donuts to make Bavarian Cream Donuts.
Storing & Freezing
The cream should be stored in the fridge in an air tight container or bowl / jar, covered with plastic wrap touching its surface. It will last for up to three days. I don't recommend freezing bavarian cream.
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Bavarian Cream (Crème Bavaroise)
- 240 ml (1 cup) Full Cream / Whole Milk
- 1 Vanilla Bean - or 1 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Paste
- 4 Egg Yolks - at room temperature (about 75gr)
- 50 gr (1/4 cup) Caster Sugar
- 6 gr (1 1/2 teaspoon) Gelatine Powder - plus 1 tablespoon cold water
- 240 ml (1 cup) Heavy / Thickened Cream - min. 30% fat
I highly recommend using the measurements in grams & ml (instead of cups & spoons) for more accuracy and better results.
- Place the Milk in a medium size saucepan. Slice the Vanilla Bean in half, scrape the seeds and place them in the milk with the pod. Turn on low heat and bring to a simmer. Then turn off the stove, cover the saucepan and leave to infuse for 10 to 20 minutes (see note 1).
- In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together the Egg Yolks and Sugar.
- Slowly pour the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Mix until smooth then transfer the whole mixture into the saucepan.
- Turn on low heat and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cream has thickened (see note 2). Remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl, mix together the Gelatin Powder and cold Water. When thickened into a paste, add the gelatin mixture to the warm custard. Whisk well until completely dissolved.
- Transfer the custard into a large clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching its surface. Place in the fridge to cool down for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until it is back at room temperature and doesn't feel warm to the touch (see note 3).
- Whip the Heavy / Thickened Cream in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer until it reaches stiff peaks.
- Take the custard out of the fridge and loosen it slightly with a whisk. Slowly and gently fold in the Whipped Cream in 3 or 4 times.
- - To use as a dessert, directly pour into serving cups or silicone mold and place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours (note that if set in a mold, you might need to increase the quantity of gelatine).- To use as a filling for pastries, use straight away or store it in the fridge until ready to use. Loosen with a spatula or whisk before using.- To pipe or use as a cake filling, place in the fridge for about 2 hours to set before using.
- If using Vanilla Paste, you don't need to let it infuse in the milk. Remove the vanilla pod once the milk is infused and keep it to make homemade vanilla extract for example.
- Don't let the mixture boil or the eggs will curdle and the custard will turn grainy or lumpy. To know the custard has cooked enough, either use a thermometer (it is ready when it reaches 82 degree Celsius or 180 degree Fahrenheit) or dip the back of a spoon in the mixture. The custard should coat the spoon and if you draw a line through the liquid and tip the spoon down, the line stays should stay clear.
- If you leave the custard in the fridge for too long, it will start to set with the gelatine. You want to find the right temperature that is not too hot (that would melt the whipped cream) but not too cold (as the gelatine will have set). If the custard has started to set, vigorously whisk it to loosen it. If it has completely set, you can try to blend it on slow with an immersion blender.