This winter was all about perfecting some French baking techniques with everything from brioche to cream puffs. I’ve made pastry cream more times than I can count (really both a blessing and a curse). After making pastry cream for yet another recipe and finding myself with leftovers as is known to happen, I wanted to try my hand at a 20-layer crepe cake.
Crepes are one of my favorite desserts and are so easy to make. While this dessert is delicious and decadent, don’t get me wrong, I won’t say no to a simple crepe with bananas and nutella or even just a sprinkling of sugar. Some of my favorite memories include ordering savory piping hot, ham and cheese crepes from street carts in Paris. It’s really the perfect comfort food – whether sweet or savory.
Plus, this was also the perfect excuse to use my fancy cast iron crepe pan (which I rarely break out) and my hand held blow torch!
As the name would imply, this cake needs crepe after crepe after crepe. I had to double the recipe as I wanted stacks on stacks and I gotta say, my crepe making skills are on point. It helps to work two frying pans at the same time, cooling them off intermittently and re-buttering to ensure your crepes are consistently golden brown. This is the perfect dessert for mastering crepes!
This popular dessert is known as Gâteau Mille Crêpes in France, translating to “thousand crepe cake,” and as you can guess is comprised of layer after layer of pillowy crepes with pastry cream throughout.
While I stuck with a traditional take on this recipe, this dessert would be perfect with a variety of flavorings and pairings — add strawberries or other fruits or nutella; I’ve even seen a coffee flavored cream dusting with cocoa powder for a tiramisu-inspired take!
I mean look at those layers! And as if pastry cream and crepes weren’t enough, I added a sprinkling of sugar on top and caramelized it, creating a crunchy topping to this light and creamy dessert.
- 1¼ cups milk
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cake flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2½ tbsp sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- Butter, for coating the pan
- In a medium saucepan, scald the milk over medium-high heat. Stir together the sugar, flour, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. The mixture will be thick and pasty.
- Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add it to the egg-flour mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
- Once it thickens, stop whisking every few seconds to see if the mixture has come to a boil. If it has not, keep whisking vigorously. As soon as you see it bubbling, immediately go back to whisking for just 10 seconds, and then remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla, then cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the cream. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold.
- Combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, water, flour and butter and mix until well incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone.
- Lay out one crepe onto a large plate. Spread a tablespoon of pastry cream over the crepe to the edge, laying another crepe onto. Continue until all the crepes have been added. Sprinkle sugar onto of the cake and use a hand-held torch to caramelize the topping.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.