Gretchen's table: Crepe cake with raspberry cream
Mother’s Day calls for at least one sweet treat, right?
One of my favorite brunch dishes is crepes, which feel fancier than regular pancakes and take a lot less time, because you can make the batter a day ahead of time. They’re so easy to make after you get the pan the right temperature, and they don’t need much more than a dusting of powdered sugar on top.
If you’ve got few extra minutes to spare — and who doesn’t these days — crepes also can be turned into something quite spectacular when they’re stacked on top of one another rather than folded or rolled.
A crepe cake is the very definition of a showstopper. It’s dramatic to look at and tastes heavenly.
The recipe looks long, but it’s actually quite easy. That said, it involves a couple of different steps, with time set aside for both the batter and filling to cool in the fridge.
I made it with a raspberry cream filling, but you could fill the layers with so many other things — Nutella, vanilla pastry cream, lemon curd, chocolate cream or even just plain whipped cream. Feel free to experiment with Mom’s favorite flavors. I like a simple dusting of powdered sugar on top, but sprinkles, shaved chocolate, sliced berries, and toasted or crushed nuts are all appropriate garnishes.
One note: Resist the urge to use the batter immediately. It needs to rest in the fridge for at least two hours to relax the gluten, making for light and airy crepes. Also, know you might under- or overcook the first couple of crepes until the pan is heated to the correct temperature (I lost my first four).
This recipe makes at least 25 pancakes.
What helps is slathering the pan with melted butter between each crepe and waiting to flip until the edges start to brown and lift from the pan, and the top is no longer shiny. Otherwise, they’ll rip. I used my fingers to turn them over, but a spatula works well, too.
To make sure your cake is sturdy enough to cut, chill it in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Otherwise, it may collapse. It’ll still be delicious, but it won’t be nearly as pretty.
Wrapped in plastic, cooked crepes will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days, and you also can freeze them for up to a month.
RASPBERRY CREAM CREPE CAKE
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 cups whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
For raspberry filling
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon hot water
2/3 cup raspberry puree, strained
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Fresh raspberries and powdered sugar to garnish (optional)
Make crepe batter: Blend eggs, milk, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a blender until smooth and frothy. (If you have a small blender, you may have to do this in two batches.) Add flour and ½ teaspoon salt and blend just to combine.
Transfer to a large bowl, cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
Make filling: In a small bowl, combine egg, flour, sugar, and cornstarch; whisk until smooth.
In a saucepan over low heat, bring milk to a simmer, then remove from heat and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Return all ingredients to the saucepan and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes until thickened.
Remove from the heat. Add vanilla extract and hot water; stir until dissolved into the mixture. Refrigerate mixture until thick and cool, about 2 hours.
Prepare crepes: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Then brush lightly with some butter. Whisk batter to reincorporate and ladle quarter cup into skillet. Working quickly, swirl pan to evenly coat just the bottom of the pan. Cook crepe, reducing heat if browning too quickly, until bubbles form on surface and edges are light golden, about 2 minutes.
Slide a spatula underneath to loosen and carefully flip. Cook on other side until a few brown spots appear, 15 to 30 seconds; transfer to a flat plate.
Repeat with remaining butter and batter, stacking crepes on plate as you go (you should have 20 total). Let crepes cool.
Assemble cake: When the pastry cream is cold and firm, make whipped cream by beating the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the pastry cream and the raspberry puree.
Place one prepared crepe on a large cake plate. With a small spatula, completely cover the crepe with a scant ⅓ cup of the pastry cream mixture.
Cover with another dry crepe and repeat with pastry cream mixture and then another crepe, until you have reached 20 layers. Save the nicest looking crepe for the 20th (top) layer. If your layers seem uneven or your cake seems tilted at all, adjust your filling to even it out.
Refrigerate the prepared cake for 1 to 2 hours. Top with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar if desired. To serve, cut with a chef’s knife into 3-inch wedges so the cake stands up on the plate.
Makes 1 cake.
— Adapted from bonappetit.com