Trouble is, so many places make bad crepes. I won’t name any restaurants, but if you are eating at a chain, don’t order the crepes there. Sweet or savory, it will never measure up to a homemade recipe.
Some of my strongest childhood memories involve breakfasts featuring the thin French pancake. I can still picture my mom pouring the batter in a pan, flipping it over, filling it with strawberry jam or cinnamon apples, then folding it neatly before placing it on a plate and topping it with whipped cream.
There was nothing like it.
So when I stumbled across a recipe for a crepe cake, I knew I had to make it, even if I only perfected the batter for a nutella-banana-mascarpone experiment later on.
I’ll admit I was wary of this recipe at first. Not because I hadn’t made crepes or custard before but because crepes have a texture very different from the fluffy, moist cake. My fear was that the crepes would be too rubbery once chilled and layered between the custard.
The crepes were a sinch, although a little time-consuming, to make. You pretty much throw all the ingredients in a blender and mix. The trick is getting the pan to the right heat. Too hot and you’ll cook the crepe too quickly. You may have to do a couple of tests to get where you need to be. Ideally, your crepes should be a light beige, maybe with a few golden brown touches here and there.
I cooked my crepes a day in advance and refrigerated them, as suggested. It made assembly the next day much easier.
The pastry cream, or vanilla custard, well, that’s the star of the show. Think more creme brûlée than Boston cream in terms of this custard. It isn’t overly eggy. And, it does make a tasty creme brûlée (I know because I had a little left over and couldn’t resist throwing on some sugar and torching it).
I only wish I had known I had some vanilla bean in my cupboard. It would have really given this dish a boost.
The one note I have about the custard is that, even after putting it through a strainer, there were still some small lumps. Nothing that ruined the overall texture, but it just didn’t look as good. Instead of cooking it over the stove to thicken it up (during which you have to stir constantly), I recommend placing it a heat-safe dish in of a pan filled with water and cooking it in the oven until it thickens. It’ll take longer, but the consistency will be more even. (If you do decide to use the recipe just for creme brûlée, you can parcel it out in ramekins and cook it the same way.)
From there, it’s just waiting for it to chill in the refrigerator, then layering the sweet cream between the crepes. That’ll take about 10 minutes, tops. I finished my cake with strawberries and powdered sugar, then dove right in.
It was sweet, but not so much so. Again, the texture isn’t for everyone, but I didn’t find it rubbery at all. The strawberries were a great, too, as I imagine any berry would be. Honestly, I cannot wait to try this out in different versions. Chocolate. Nutella. Lemon. I have so many ideas that sound amazing.
Best of all — it is different from all the other cakes out there.
So, if you are up for something a little out of the box, I recommend the crepe cake. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Find recipes for the crepes and pastry cream here.
One word to the wise: Make sure you store this cake in an air-tight container because it doesn’t have a long shelf life. But really, I recommend serving it the day you make it. Otherwise, the cream soaks into the crepes and the entire thing just kind of dries out.