Some girlfriends catch up over a cup of coffee. Others may share tales of their weekend debauchery over drinks. But I have to say that there’s A LOT of great chit chat that happens when close friends spend the day together in the kitchen. Every few months–definitely not as often as we’d like–my good friend Corinne and I plan a baking party. That’s right. BAKING PARTY. Once the date is set, we spend the week leading up to the big day thinking about which fancy dessert we want to bake — the more unique and intimidating, the better. During our last party, we made mini fruit tartlets and Alfajores cookies. It was our first time baking those beauties and surprisingly, they turned out well. But even if they didn’t, no worries – baking day is a judgment-free, safe place :)
This time around, I made a 25-layer vanilla crepe cake topped with fresh raspberries. Corinne baked a beautiful fig tart using a variety of green and purple figs from the farmer’s market. And she made lemon bars for extra credit – she’s a baking machine! Now on to the vanilla crepe cake! Perhaps you’ve seen these cakes before as they’ve been made famous by the Lady M bakery, with locations in New York, LA, Singapore and Korea. Essentially, the cake is made up of over 20 layers of crepes with a light filling between each crepe. Given how much I love making crepes, both sweet and savory, I wanted to give this cake a try.
For the crepes, I used this trusty recipe from Alton Brown. I modified the base to make a sweet crepe by adding sugar and vanilla extract. I decided to make a basic vanilla crepe cake, but I was able to see many beautiful variations that included chocolate, caramel, and more. You could also add citrus zest, baking spices, or cocoa powder, depending on which direction you wanted to take. I recommend letting the crepe batter chill in the fridge for a few hours, if not overnight. I doubled his recipe to make roughly 30 crepes, and ended up using 25 for the cake. This leaves just a few extra crepes for the very important job of taste testing :)
As for the filling, I used a simple vanilla pastry cream. The recipe is from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, and I doubled that recipe as well. You could also add a variety of flavorings too. Lastly, the filling can be made a day or two ahead as long as it’s refrigerated. I topped the cake with fresh raspberries, with a thin layer of pastry cream to keep them in place on the cake. Finally, I lightly dusted the raspberries with powdered sugar; the sweetness of the sugar balanced out the tart bite of the berries. After assembling the cake, I suggest letting it chill in the refrigerator so that the layers can set with the cream. I tried a piece of cake about 2 hours later, and it held together well. And, I served it to my coworkers the next day and noticed that the consistency and flavor was even better. If you’re making this for a special event, I highly recommend making it the night before.
Now that I have my test run out of the way, I’ll be making this cake again in just a few weeks to celebrate my father’s 65th birthday. Given his love for cheesecake, I’m going to experiment with a mascarpone filling and a fresh strawberry topping. Stay tuned…and until then, give this recipe a try!
Have you ever had (or made) a crepe cake? What flavors would you want to try out?
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups flour
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Butter, to coat the pan between making each crepe
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 10 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 8 pieces
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a blender, combine all crepe ingredients and mix until smooth. Place batter in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Heat an 8-inch non-stick pan and add butter to coat.
- Pour ⅓ cup of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for roughly 30 seconds or until the edges of the crepe appear loosened from the pan.
- Flip the crepe and cook for another 10 seconds.
- Remove crepe and stack on a place. Line the edges of the plate and stacked crepes with aluminum foil, to keep the edges from drying out.
- Continue with the remaining batter and stack crepes on the plate.
- In a large saucepan, heat the half-and-half, sugar, and salt over medium heat and let simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined. Add the cornstarch and continue whisking for about 30 seconds.
- Once the half-and-half mixture simmers, add ½ cup of the half-and-half mixture to the egg yolk mixture to temper it. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and stir constantly, for about 30 seconds.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Pour into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, touching the mixture so skim doesn't form.
- Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2-3 hours and up to 2 days.
- Place 1 crepe on a large plate or flat dish.
- Scoop ¼ cup of pastry creme on the center of the crepe, and spread evenly using an offset spatula.
- Add another crepe on top and repeat until all crepes have been used.
- For the final layer, spread ¼ cup of pastry cream on the top of the crepe. Individually arrange raspberries on top of the cream, applying additional cream to the bottoms of the berries for reinforcement.
- Lightly dust the cake with powerdered sugar.
- Chill cake for at least 3 hours before serving. Apply more powdered sugar if needed.