Bavarian Cream Recipe

I hesitated at first to do Bavarian cream because I’ve had so many bad experiences with it. No, not making it. Eating it. For Bavarian cream is a much abused substance in the baking world. So often it has so much gelatin in it that it comes off like JELL-O pudding. Thankfully, pastry chef Laura N. — another solidly obsessive personality — was kind enough to help me find a formula to get excited about. It’s by Chef Roland Mesnier from his book Dessert University and it goes kinda sorta like this:

1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) cold water
2 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
4 large egg yolks
3 ounces (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
Seeds from one vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold

Put the cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle on the gelatin and let it stand. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.

Get a large bowl of ice water ready.

Put the half-and-half in a small saucepan, add the vanilla seeds and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to the boil, then slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and bring it just to the boil. When the custard starts to bubble, pour it through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl. Whisk in the gelatin and place the bowl in the ice water bath.

While the custard is cooling, whip the cream. Add the cold cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip and whip to the soft peak stage. When the the custard has just started to thicken but is still liquid, fold in the whipped cream. Scrape the mixture into the appropriate mold and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours. It can be kept several days or frozen for up to three months.

67 thoughts on “Bavarian Cream Recipe”

  1. Dear joe,
    Firstly I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your wonderful website. It is so beautifully stocked with amazing recipies and lots of pictures, and I looooove pictures!
    Now, I have two questions :

    I have made your french buttercream and it was delicious and absolutely stunning. However, it was not as tasty as a custard buttercream that I have made previously by making custard and adding soft butter to it. However, it didnt have a great texture and icing a cake with it was quite the challange. Could I just use more yolks for the french buttercream to increase flavour?

    The bovarian cream recipe is really interesting and I am salivating by the thought of eating it. However, I absolutely hate gelatin and refuse to use it ( because it is made from animal bones and I am a vegetarian). Have you ever tried agar agar or any other plant based gelatin for this or a similar recipe?

    Many thanks!

    Kind regards,

    Rose ( from Holland)

    1. Hi Rose!

      Your note was delightful, I thank you for it. Regarding your questions, there are quite a few different things you can do to add flavor to the buttercream, but I don’t recommend adding yolks (it’s the cooked egg flavor of a custard that you’re missing…raw yolks won’t help that). The are all sorts of things you can add to the fished buttercream, from jam to caramel to melted chocolate. You imagination is the only limit!

      Regarding the bavarian cream, you absolutely can use agar agar to make it if you don’t want to use gelatin.

      Cheers and thanks again!

      – Joe

  2. I made this today, but steeped the half and half with ground coffee beans (strained out, of course), and added 4oz bittersweet chocolate to the custard. It tastes like a very flavorful coffee/chocolate ice cream, but with a mousse like texture. I’ll definitely make this again (along with the ladyfingers) with other variations. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. My first attempt at Bavarian cream was a 80% success! I followed your recipe to a T, and it came out amazing, although not quite fitted for the task I was assigning it to–cake filling. I made a double batch to fill 8” and 6” cakes, and I added 6 packets of gelatin (4 1/2 tbsp). Next time, I will add less gelatin for a less firm, more custardy texture. 🙂 But I was pretty proud of myself for completing this near perfectly! Thank you, Joe!

    1. Well done, Ann! And a very cool idea for an application. Send photos next time please!

      – Joe

  4. Hi Joe!

    I wanted to use your bavarian cream recipe in some homemade Boston cream pie pop tarts I was going to try to make tonight. My concern is that the only way to make hand pies is by putting the filling in before baking. Do you know if the custard will hold up in baking or if it will dry out and evaporate?

    1. Hey Alex! The Bavarian cream won’t hold up in that kind of heat, I’m sorry to say. Neither would a pastry cream. Custard just can’t take it. But the chocolate should work out OK!

      Let me know what you decide upon…I’ll be curious.

      – Joe

  5. I am so happy that I finally stumbled upon your site! I am trying to make a birthday cake for my husband… I have strict requirements:
    1) a “vanilla” type cake
    2) a layer of that “custardy” stuff we ate on the cruise
    3) a “jelly” type layer but not jelly
    4) some kind of wonderful frosting

    Great honey – can you be a bit more vague?

    I have decided to make him a trifle. I will use a basic white cake, I made a strawberry soup that I plan to use (sugar, lemon, water, strawberries, a little cinnamon and salt oh and a dash of cornstarch to thicken – its sweet but not over sweet) and I need a custardy type layer. I tried a basic pastry cream (whole milk, vanilla, lemon, sugar, cornstarch) but it doesn’t have the right flavor I’m looking for. Will this be the flavor I’m looking for here? A super silky, sweet vanilla creme?

    I plan to “ice” the trifle with chantilly… I’m considering adding marscipone but I’ve never done that and I don’t have a clue how it will taste. I’m also quite afraid of flavor over-kill here – but I’m trying to follow his directions.

    Oh I can’t wait to really dive into your site and try some things out!!!

    Best Regards,


    1. Hey Katrina!

      Welcome. An please do look around, then feel free to ask about anything. Under the components menu you’ll find lots of different fillings. It seems to me that you’re after a version of pastry cream…just a silkier type. I have two on the site, one that’s very firm and another that’s not-so-firm. I think the not-so-firm is what you need. That or this Bavarian should work quite well.

      Have a look and get back with me. I’m happy to help if I can.

      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe, I’m a home baker and have been requested by a friend to do two sheet cakes with a barvarian like filling. The sheetcakes are 12 x 18 and I don’t have the room in my frig to place the cakes once I fill them with the cream and cover them in butter cream. If I freeze these two cakes in my upright freezer, when they thaw, will the filling remain stable? By the way, I love your website!

    1. Hey Melissa! Good question. As you know pudding and custards don’t freeze terribly well, however if it’s a filling in a thin layer, any little curdles will probably go unnoticed. And thanks very much for the kind words! I appreciate it!

      – Joe

  7. Dear Joe
    I’m very grateful because of your yummy recipes. I made the Bavarian Cream for the first time, and I just encountered a small problem, when I stirred the mixture (after adding milk) it became a little granular, I mean that it was full of coarse grains although I strained it. Do you have any idea about this? By the way it was so delicious.

    1. Hello Moshen!

      Thank you for the question! Was the gelatin dissolved all the way? I wonder if those were the little grains you were getting. But I’m glad it tasted good!

      – Joe

      1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Definitely the gelatin was the reason, because when I reviewed the recipe I found that the amount of gelatin is about 2 teaspoons, but I added 3 tablespoons!(I confused it with amount of cold water!!)
        By the way is it possible that I send some pictures of my cream for you? (I mean the next time that I make it)

        1. Hi Moshen! Glad I could help. Next time you can simply email me if you wish (click the email link in the upper left) or you can upload them to Flickr and just send me a link, which would allow others to see them. Either way is fine with me!


          – Joe

  8. I was wondering if I can make this and refridgerate it for two days? or would it be better to use in a cake immeadiately after? Thanks and I look forward to trying it, it sounds delicious!

    1. Hi Katie!

      You absolutely can refrigerate this for a couple of days. No problem. Let me know how it all goes!

      – Joe

  9. One more question, I hadn’t read anyone having trouble with the eggs but wanted to make sure… when you pour the egg into the hot vanilla half and half mix it doesn’t curddle?

    1. Hi Katie!

      Nope, no trouble on that front. The reason is because when you slowly add the hot half n’ half mixture (and whisk) the eggs “temper” but don’t cook. There’s a small amount of cooking of some of the proteins, but most of the heat dissipates. Pastry cream is the very same process. Let me know how it turns out!

      – Joe

  10. Hey Joe, I used your recipe and the flavors are great! However I’m in need of a big help, it came out watery texture because I misread of how much gelatin to put in and apparently I didn’t put enough after its been refrigerated. I added in more gelatin after the finished product but didn’t do anything. Anything you would recommend?!

    1. Hey Diana!

      I wish I knew of a way to save it at this point, but it won’t have the same texture. You can try warming it up to melt the gelatin and then let it cool and re-set. The result will be more jelly-like probably, but it’ll probably be useful for something! Sorry I can be of more help!

      – Joe

      1. Thanks for the reply! I figured if i warm it up a bit, wouldnt the whipping cream melt? I have custard powder that could possibly give it some consistency, would you recommend it? just for future reference

        1. Yes, no question the cream foam would collapse. But you might get something usable in the process. That was my thought at least. As for the custard powder, you can try it. You’re in uncharted territory as far as I know, but you might discover something interesting!

          – Joe

  11. I was wondering, this is kind of a last minute recipe, and I have everything except vanilla bean seeds. Would it be possible to just use vanilla extract? If so, how much would you recommend? Also, for future reference, what section of the grocery store would one normally find vanilla beans? The baking section?

    1. Hey Kate!

      You can. For every two inches of bean substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. That should do the trick!

      – Joe

    2. To add. You can normally find vanilla beans at any grocery store. They are typically in the spices section. At my local store (when I don’t need a bulk amount) they can be found under the name Madagascar vanilla bean in the alphabetical spices. You can always snag a grocer to assist you if they prove hard to find. 🙂


    1. Hey Leslie!

      There are all sorts of extracts out there that are possible contenders. Can you give me some hints for what it tastes like? Citrus-like? Fruit-like? Anything like that?

      – Joe

  13. I was looking for something like this recipe but denser. More like thick whipped silk than custard. Any ideas:)

    1. nevermind this is perfect. thank you. I just needed to let it set longer and have some patience. Thank you for this recipe

  14. Hi, first of all, I love the site and the fact that u reply most of the comments n questions. Hoping for a reply too… So my question is that here in India, half n half isn’t available. What can I use instead??

    1. Hello Debashree!

      If you can get just milk and then heavy cream you can milk the two in equal proportion. Will that work for you?

      – Joe

  15. Hi Joe, can you help how to do meringue frosting? Would you be so gentle and send me an easy and nice recipe?

    Lucia (from San Juan, Puerto Rico)

    1. Hello Lucia!

      I would be very glad to do that. I have a few meringues on the site under “Pastry Components”. Here is the French meringue, which is very common:

      Buttercream frostings are also based on meringue. There are four of those in the same section under “Buttercream.” See what you think and get back to me if you don’t find what you need!


      – Joe

  16. I am looking for a sponge cake with bavarian cream and glazed fruit… it is so hard to find a complete recipe for that. It is something a grocery store chain sells here and something my mom loves, but it is so hard to find exactly what we are looking for. Any ideas for a perfect sponge cake with bavarian creme and glazed fruit topping?? Thank you so much!

  17. Wow. I love the recipe but need a photo so I can “Pin” this on my pinterest acct and keep a link to find it again.

    Can you post an image?

    I love that you answer the posts and questions that people have asked. It is very helpful to see what they asked and your response.

    Thanks so much!!

  18. Hey Joe,
    I love your blog – the content, energy, and congenial tone – thanks!
    A couple of questions about the Bavarian cream- you say it can be frozen for up to three months: Can I really freeze it after the whipped cream is added? should I freeze it on a sheet pan in the teeny-weeny edible spoon-sized portions in which I’ll be using it; or in whole batches in a ziploc, or another way? Any tips on thawing it?
    Thanks for your sage advice –

    1. Hi Mary!

      It can be frozen indeed, and after the whipped cream. I’d freeze it in a larger quantity so it doesn’t get freezer burn. Just let it thaw overnight in the fridge…and you should be good to go!


      – Joe

  19. Hi Joe,

    I’m going to be making a wedding cake using this recipe for Bavarian Cream. The cake itself is going to be white and the bride would also like a white frosting. Can you recommend a particular recipe for frosting from your site? Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Toodie!

      For wedding cakes buttercreams are a great. They pipe well and hold up well if the cake needs to sit in a fridge for a day or two before being delivered and cut. I like the Swiss meringue buttercream the best. Of course rolled fondant is extremely popular as well, and there’s a recipe for that on the site too!

      Have fun — and my best wishes to the happy couple!

      – Joe

  20. I tried this for the first time last night. I am using it as a component in another recipe. I was a little nervous as I have never folded whipped cream into anything before. But I trusted the recipe and put it in the fridge when it looked ready. I let it set overnight and voila! In the morning I had the most amazing Bavarian cream! Great recipe and I’ll let you know how the rest of my overall recipe goes….if it makes it that far 🙂

    1. Great news, Paul! And do check in with the report as I’ll be interested!

      – Joe

  21. Will this set up enough so that it holds its shape? I need a good recipe to use for an entremet type application. I am always dancing the line between rubbery and too loose when I improvise flavors of mousse etc. 😐

    1. Hey Jen! It will hold it’s shape, yes. It won’t support a lot of weight, but it does stand up.


      – Joe

  22. Do you think I could fold in some raspberry puree if I added some extra gelatin? I want a creamy raspberry layer…I have always done what is essentially raspberry whipped cream stabilized with gelatin but I want a silkier mouthfeel that you get with bavarois.

    1. Yes you can…it just depends on how stable it needs to be. A little more gelatin won’t hurt though.

      – Joe

  23. Hi Joe,
    I was just wondering if I can refrigerate the cream overnight, then pipe it into the cream puffs I’m making the next day?

    1. Hello Xiaolu!

      It is possible to use this as a cake filling, though I think pastry cream would be a better choice. Still it all depends on what you want the finished product to be like. If you apply bavarian cream to your cake before it sets it will end up being quite firm once the gelatin cools. If you stir the bavarian cream after it has set — as you’d do with pastry cream — it will be looser and more flowing. In the latter case I think you would want to serve the cake right away.

      It could make for some interesting experiments. Perhaps you should make a batch before you prepare the cake and see what you think. Let me know how the project goes!

      – Joe

  24. Thanks, Joe! Do you have a recipe for pastry cream that will still be sturdy enough after setting and stirring to go between cake layers? I like my cake tiers to be about 5 inches tall with 1-inch cake layers and 1/4 to 1/3-inch of filling.

  25. Dear Joe,
    I made a Orange Bavarian Cream dessert, in a Charlotte mold a la J. Child. The technique was very similar to yours. However, my custard separated from the egg whites in the cooling phase. It also collapsed after unmolding (mold lined with lady fingers). It was a spectacular looking dessert, but I am wondering why did the custard separate from the egg white merengue? Can you shed any light?
    Gardis – CT

  26. Will this Bavarian Cream work well for using in the layers for a Boston Cream Pie or can you suggest a different filling for this ?

    1. Hi Cindy!

      I’d use pastry cream as it will spread better and hold longer. Have fun!

      – Joe

  27. Hi Joe, Love how thorough your recipes are and I’m happy you’re helping the rest of us come around to Bavarian cream! I’m looking to make a Bichon au Citron, which traditionally calls for lemon Bavarian cream filling. I’m not sure if it would mess anything up at any point if I were to steep some zest in the saucepan with the half-and-half. Do you have any brilliant insight!? Thank you!

    1. I’m a big fan of infusions like that, Remy. I say: go for it!


      – Joe

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