Bavarian Cream vs Custard

Bavarian Cream vs Custard

Few things will put a smile on your face than a lip smacking mouthful of a creme-filled dessert!

And for lovers of them, enjoying the delicate, smooth texture and decadent flavor is one of life’s culinary pleasures.

What’s more, there are so many options to choose from that picking one and calling it a favorite is no simple task. Long gone are the days of only having to choose from vanilla or chocolate. Today there’s everything from berries to dulce de leche and exotic flavors like mango, passion fruit and more!

However, no matter what your particular favorite might be, few are more popular than the tried and true Bavarian cream or custard. Though they may be equally beloved, they aren’t exactly the same and in this article, we’ll be looking at what makes each unique. 

Strictly speaking, the crucial difference between Bavarian cream and custard is in how each is thickened. Bavarian cream (Crème bavaroise or Bavarois) a Crème Anglaise (pourable custard) base that uses gelatin and whipped cream as thickening agents whereas custard, sometimes referred to as pastry cream, confectioners’ custard or Crème pâtissière is thickened with eggs and starch, usually flour or cornstarch.

In addition to the methods used to thicken each, Bavarian cream and custard have some other differences that include their history, how they’re commonly used and so on.

We’ll cover all the tasty details for you so that the next time you’re considering using one or the other, you’ll have the information you need.

Differences in History

According to food historians, the origins of modern custard stretch as far back as the Middle Ages with predecessors to it also attributed to Ancient Rome.

While today we think of custard as a creamy delight, custards were originally served in the form of a baked tart. Coined “custard tarts” by the English, the word tart was eventually removed and today, custard remains as the common term. 

Prior to this, the French referred to the tart’s crust as “croustade” which is believed to be derived from the Latin word crustāre which means something covered with a shell or rind.

Throughout its history, custards weren’t always desserts either. For much of their history, they were also meat-based and frequently used meat or fish as fillings.

Even though the history of Bavarian cream is somewhat better understood, its exact history is still unclear.

However, there are two theories. 
The first of these harkens back to the House of Wittelsbach, a German royal dynasty that ruled for nearly 740 years. Besides Bavaria, at one time or another the vast empire included countries like Sweden, Holland, Hungary and even Greece. In the 18th century, French chefs were employed to cook for the House of Wittelsbach and it was during this time that the earliest version of Bavarian cream (or Baravois) appeared.
Another widely accepted version gives credit for Bavarian cream to the famous French chef, Marie-Antoine Carême. To give you some idea of how prolific he was, he’s also credited with the creation of the eclair which is another beloved creme-filled French dessert.

Differences in Preparation

The type of custard most often confused with Bavarian cream is confectioners’ custard. It’s also known as pastry cream or by its original name, Crème pâtissière.

It is a cooked custard and like Bavarian cream is used in a variety of desserts that call for filling including eclairs. It uses a classic custard ingredient base of sugar, eggs, milk (or cream), butter and flour (or cornstarch).

Although Bavarian Cream has a similar texture, and shares some of the same ingredients, including egg yolks, sugar and milk, the similarities end there. Thanks to the addition of either whipped cream or gelatin as a thickener, Bavarian Cream cannot only be used for filling but also served on its own as a molded dessert.

Differences in Taste

Most people who taste authentic Bavarian cream for the first time are often surprised at the flavor.

Since it’s often thought to be the same custard, the reaction is usually one of disbelief since true Bavarian cream doesn’t taste the same. In fact, it has more in common with the texture and flavor of mousse than anything else.

In the simplest terms, Bavarian cream tastes like a fluffy and rich version of buttercream. It’s the richness and sturdiness of the cream that not only makes it a wonderful filling but delicious enough to eat on its own, which is sometimes how it’s served.

In contrast, perfectly cooked pastry cream will have a rich, buttery, slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture. However, because it uses significant amounts of eggs and flour (or cornstarch), it’s not uncommon to have excess hints of egg or slight grittiness from the starch in the aftertaste.

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