Meet The Dessert Equivalent Of Love At First Sight

February 6, 2017
Sometimes in life, things are just obvious. Like the desire for Crepe Cake. What might not be so obvious is how easy it can be to make.
Danielle DeSiato
Meet the Dessert Equivalent of Love at First Sight | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

There's a romantic holiday just around the corner, and there's something about romance that tends to spark a little creativity in some of us. Rather than let a restaurant take all the glory for a delicious confection, get inspired and let your creative juices flow. Baking not your thing? Not to worry. If you’d still like to make an impressive dessert for dinner guests – or that special someone – we have the answer. The Crepe Cake. Baking prowess is replaced with simple patience — the patience to stand at the stove for a bit and master the art of the crepe. (It’s not too hard, promise!) And once you’ve got that down, you’re golden! The crepes cook really quickly, and your filling options are endless. 

Start with the master.

You can’t really beat the simplest, most authentic crepe recipe ever translated into English — Julia Child’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She even included a recipe specifically for a crepe cake (or gateau de crepes) which I modified slightly to make it a little quicker to accomplish in a modern kitchen. You don’t even need a special pan, just a simple 6-inch nonstick skillet. 

Go easy on yourself.

If you’re going to make a crepe cake, you’re going to be making (no surprise here) a lot of crepes! That’s the real labor of love. So the trick is to keep the rest of the ingredients super simple. That doesn’t mean they can’t be impressive, but go easy on yourself and use brightly colored berries or dress up store-bought ingredients. 

Crepe Cake 101

Crepes give you a blank canvas on which to paint whatever flavors you, or your valentine, happen to love. The most important things to remember are:

1. Keep it firm. You don’t want your filling to be too loose or it will squish out the sides as you stack your layers. 

2. Focus on the edges. Spread the fillings almost all the way to the edges, leaving the middle a little more sparse so that the delicate layers don’t slope down as you go up.

3. Ditch perfection. No matter what, your creation will be delicious, so if it doesn’t look perfect just call it “rustic.” Imperfections add to the beauty of a homemade dessert! 

The flavoring options are really endless – but two of our favorites are below! Go the extra mile with the Caramel-Apple Crepe Cake with Bourbon-Spiked Caramel & Pecans or keep it super simple with a Lemon Cream & Raspberry Crepe Cake. From Nutella to jam to canned “funfetti” frosting, you can spread just about anything between layers of crepes. Drizzle the stack, frost it, dust it in confectioners’ sugar — whatever lights your fire — and you’ve got your latest favorite dessert.

Crepes for Crepe Cake

Danielle DeSiato

This recipe is adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and makes enough crepes for one 12-layer crepe cake with 2 to 3 trial crepes to get the hang of it (which will still be delicious and should be considered snacks for the chef). 

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cold water
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons apple brandy (rum also works)
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing pan

Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If any flour sticks to the sides of jar, dislodge with a spatula and blend 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Making the crepes:

When spreading the crepe over the bottom of the pan, your swirling motion should feel as if it's in slow motion. And as you can see, you don't have to worry about any spare drips.

  1. The first crepe (and maybe the second/third) is a trial one to test the consistency of your batter, the exact amount you need for the pan, and the heat. 
  2. Set a 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and brush with a thin layer of oil. Heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Holding handle of pan in your right hand, use your left hand to pour 1/4 cup of batter directly into the middle of the pan.
  3. Gently tilt the pan in all directions in a swirling motion to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Note: there is a lot of temptation to rush this process but there's no need. Focus on getting the batter evenly distributed, and try not to let it creep up the sides of the skillet or you'll end up with too-thin edges. 
  4. Return the pan to the heat for 60 – 80 seconds. Then jerk the pan sharply from side to side, as well as up and down to loosen the crepe. If the crepe is ready to be turned, it will loosen from the bottom of the pan. If it's not, give it a few more seconds. Lift the edges with a spatula – if the under side is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning. Turn the crepe by using a wide silicone spatula or 2 spatulas, if that's easier for you. 
  5. Brown lightly for about 30 seconds on the other side. This second side is rarely more than a spotty brown, so you can keep it facing the bottom of your cake. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a baking sheet and let cool several minutes before stacking. 
  6. Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and repeat the process with the remaining batter. Let cool completely before adding filling.
  7. Crepes can be made in advance, refrigerated in a stack until ready to use. If made in advance, let crepes come to room temperature before building your crepe cake. 

Caramel-Apple Crepe Cake with Bourbon-Spiked Caramel & Pecans

Danielle DeSiato
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 cup caramel topping (a thick, spreadable variety works well)
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Although it is small in diameter, this tall cake easily serves 4 to 6 people. 

  1. While the crepe batter rests, make the fillings.
  2. Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook until apples begin to brown, about 5 minutes, stirring carefully to keep apples in wedge shape.
  3. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, vanilla and salt, and simmer until the apples are softened, almost all liquid has evaporated, and the sugar is thick and syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool. 
  4. Beat together cream cheese, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon and clove until smooth.
  5. Heat caramel and bourbon in a small pot until just simmering. Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Place 1 crepe on a serving dish, spread with approximately 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling and top with approximately 10 apple wedges, arranging them near the edges of the crepe like a fan. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling, ending with a plain crepe on top. 
  7. Drizzle caramel over the top of crepe cake allowing it drip down the sides, then sprinkle with peacan, allowing some to fall around the bottom of the cake. Let cool before serving. 

Lemon Cream & Raspberry Crepe Cake

Danielle DeSiato
Lemon Cream & Raspberry Crepe Cake | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 pints fresh raspberries

Although it is small in diameter, this tall cake easily serves 4 to 6 people. 

  1. Beat together cream cheese, heavy cream, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Place 1 crepe on a serving dish, spread with approximately 1 tablespoon of cream cheese filling and top with approximately 10 raspberries, arranging them in a circle near the edges of the crepe, and a couple in the center.
  3. Repeat with remaining crepes, ending with a plain crepe on top. Spread a small amount of filling in the center of the top crepe and arrange a pile of fresh raspberries. 
  • February 6, 2017