Custard cream pastries or custard cream puff pastry croissants, are a classic of Florentine pastry shops.
It’s impossible to translate this without giving some context.
In Italy we have a strong tradition of breakfast at the bar. If you have ever been to Italy you might have seen how locals crowd their favorite bars in the morning to get an espresso or cappuccino together with a sweet pastry, like a croissant.
And every region, or even city, has its own tradition of breakfast pastries. Florence is no less, having a long-standing pastry making tradition dating back to the Renaissance.
These custard cream pastries are typical of Florence and they are called simply “sfoglie alla crema”. The classic filling is of course custard cream but there are other types of filling too, such as apple, mixed berry jam, or chocolate.
These pastries are my go-to choice when I decide to have breakfast at the bar. It is precisely the custard cream that conditions my choice of bar/pastry shop.
And speaking of Florence, just like Dante’s Inferno, I am sure that the Circle of the Gluttonous is divided into two: chocolate and custard cream. I will definitely go in the latter, maybe in the sub-section “chantilly cream”.
These pastries are coated in sugar before baking. The caramelized sugar provides the pastries with a slight bitter taste. Is that mix of buttery pastry, caramelized sugar and custard cream that makes them irresistible.
So, sfoglie alla crema e cappuccino!
Note: it is possible to buy pre-made puff pastry sheets but making it from scratch really makes the difference. In the resources page I have both recipes, the easy one and the complete one.
Custard Cream Pastries
- Roll out the puff pastry on a clean working surface, slightly dusted with flour. Dust the rolling pin too and roll out the pastry sheet roughly 4 mm high (0.15 in) and cut a 20x40 cm rectangle (8 in x 16 in).
- Roll the rectangle from the short side to have a cylinder. Cut the extremities if necessary.
- Wrap the cylinder in cling film and put in the freezer for 20 minutes, to facilitate the cutting process.
- Pre-heat the oven at 200° C (390° F).
- Take the puff pastry from the freezer and cut the cylinder in discs roughly 2.5 cm wide (1 in). Width may vary and this will also determine the size of the final pastry.
- Sprinkle the work surface with granulated sugar and press the first disc on it. Once flat roll out the disc with the rolling pin, giving it an elliptical shape. The pastry should be 1 or 2 mm thick. To avoid the pastry sticking to the surface keep adding sugar accordingly.
- Once rolled, put spoonful of custard cream on one of the two halves, keeping away from the edge. Close the pastry disc by pressing firmly on the edges.
- Put the pastries on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake at 200° C (390° F) for about 20 minutes. The pastries should be golden on top.