Sweet crumb cake with a delightful Italian pastry cream filling topped with a layer of cake crumbs creates the perfect elegant dessert for any occasion! A simple dessert everyone will enjoy. Traditionally served for Easter, you will crave this Italian cake all year long. This dessert is beautiful, light, creamy, flavorful, and highly addictive!!

How to make the crumble cake layers

In Italy this cake is called “sbriciolata alla crema pasticcera” this means “Italian crumble cake with custard cream”. The crumble refers to the cake layers that are actually more of a rough pastry dough than cake. There is a layer of crumble cake, layer of the Italian cream, then topped with another layer of the crumble cake! The result is an airy and light crumb cake that sandwiches the sweet Italian pastry cream. It is a classic Italian dessert that you MUST TRY!

Slices of Italian Cream Cake displayed with flowers

What is Italian Pastry Cream (crema pasticcera)?

Crema pasticcera, pastry cream, is one of the basic ingredients used in many Italian pastries and cakes. It’s the creamy, custardy filling in tarts, layer cakes, or pastries such as millefoglie; it’s also the cream filling you find in morning pastries such as cornetti (Italian-style croissants). Crema pasticcera is not difficult to make, though it does require care and attention so that it doesn’t curdle. 

Tips to create the perfect Italian Pastry Cream:

  • Room temperature eggs
  • High quality eggs and only use the egg yolk
  • Whip egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy using electric mixer
  • Corn starch instead of flour (makes it even lighter!)
  • Stir the cream constantly while it is cooking
  • Follow the instruction in the recipe exactly and you will achieve a great cream!

The result must be a smooth, shiny cream, with a balanced firmness and the flavor must not recall the cooked egg. Italian Pastry Cream is flavored with vanilla, often with lemon or orange zest, depending on your taste or the dessert recipe you want to make. 

If you need a new electric mixer BUY THIS ONE

When making custard in a sauce pan I recommend using a FLAT WHISK. Use a flat whisk for whisking sauces, like roux or gravy. It’s also good for custards and dishes that require frequent stirring. BUY THIS ONE

0Z4A3656 683x1024, CucinaByElena

Why Italian Cream is different than Custard…

The two are very similar with only a few differences. Pastry cream is thicker than custard because there’s more starch inside and it is better for tarts and fillings. Pastry cream can easily be enjoyed by the spoonful or with a side biscotti. Custard cream, which in Italy called “Crema Inglese”, is often served hot and it’s more runny than Italian Pastry Cream.

Italian Cream Love Story

I eat this cream by the spoonful. It is light, creamy, and not too sweet. Whenever I taste it I am transported to the Italian bakeries and coffee shops where there is a variety of pastries (doughnuts, puff pastry, and tarts) filled with this delicate creamy filling. It’s a nostalgic taste since I’ve yet to taste a similar custard in an American dessert. Once you try this cream you will find it easy to LOVE and addictive to EAT.

Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

Slices of Cake displayed with flowers

More Delicious SWEET Recipes for YOU

Creme Caramel Custard Flan Italian Recipe

Italian Olive Oil Cake Orange Honey (easy)

Italian Olive Oil Cake Orange Honey (easy)

Traditional Italian Tiramisù Recipe

Best Brown Butter Apple Pie

finished product in a white dish with a bowl of cream filling on the side

Made with Amore,


clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Italian cake in a white dish with a bowl of cream filling

Italian Crumble Cake Pastry Cream Filling

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Sweet/ Dessert
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian


Sweet crumb cake with a rich Italian custard cream filling topped with a layer of cake crumbs creates the perfect elegant dessert for any occasion! A simple dessert everyone will enjoy. Traditionally served for Easter, you will crave this Italian cake all year long.  


Units Scale


  • 2 cups (300 grams) All purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tbs (100 grams) Butter (very cold and cut into cubes)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds for topping
  • powdered sugar for decoration


Italian Cream (Crema Pasticcera) 

  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 80 g (2/3 Cup) of granulated sugar
  • 40 g (1/3 Cup) of cornstarch
  • 1/2 liter (2 Cups) of whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean (scrape the inside of a vanilla bean pod)
  • zest of half lemon



  1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a round spring form pan (22 cm) or deep dish pie pan with parchment paper. Press parchment to fit sides of the dish (the cake will weigh it down when you put it in the dish). 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the sugar. Stir to combine. Add in the beaten egg and begin to combine with hands until roughly incorporated. Add cold butter and start working together, with hands, to form crumble like texture. Once the cake crumble is an even mixture of pea sized crumbles place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile make Italian Cream. 

Italian Cream (Crema Pasticcera) 

  1. In a medium mixing bowl whip the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the corn starch and mix again for 1-2  minutes until smooth and combined. 
  2.  In a sauce pan heat the milk on low heat. Add lemon zest and vanilla bean. Stir to combine. Now, turn heat to medium and heat milk until a soft boil (little bubbles on the sides and steam starts to form). When the milk is hot, remove from heat. Using a whisk- start adding the beaten egg, sugar, and cornstarch mixture, a little at a time into the milk. It’s very important to stir constantly until you achieve a unified mixture. 
  3. Put the saucepan back on low heat and continue whisking. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the cream begins to thicken. It’s very important that the cream NEVER BOILS. In this way you have a smooth cream without lumps and without chunks of cooked egg. If you have a cooking thermometer you can check that the temperature never exceeds 85°C (185 F). Otherwise, as soon as you see that bubbles begin to form in the cream, lower the heat. You can even remove it from the heat for a few seconds and put it back. This step is the only difficult step in the Pastry Cream recipe.
  4. When the cream is well thickened, immediately pour it into a cold glass container. Important to remove the cream immediately from hot saucepan to prevent it from cooking longer. While cooling, cover the cream with plastic wrap. Keep it in contact with the cream. This step is to avoid forming a skin on the cream surface.

Assemble cake and cream:

  1.  Take cake crumble out of the refrigerator. Layer half of the mixture in the prepared cake pan. gently press to form an even layer on the bottom and about 1/2″ inch on the sides of the pan. Add the prepared Italian cream on top of the crumb layer and spread evenly to make a uniform layer. Add the rest of the cake crumb on top of the cream layer. Gently form a uniform layer with hands. Do not press down. Sprinkle with almonds. 
  2. Bake 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Let cake cool before cutting and serving. Before serving dust with powdered sugar, Store leftovers in refrigerator. 


Keywords: Italian dessert, pastry cream, crema pasticcera, Italian crumble cake, Italian cream cake, Coffee cake, Italian cake,