The Little Epicurean

Sep 14 2011

Gâteau de Crêpes (Crepe Cake)

Crepes are great for any meal.  They are so versatile.  I can make a bacon, egg, and cheddar filled crepe for breakfast.  A sun dried tomato with feta and arugula crepe for lunch, and a grilled chicken fajita crepe for dinner.

And in between all those savory crepes I can have plenty of sweet dessert crepes.  Sliced strawberries with a drizzle of melted chocolate and a dollop of whipped cream, maybe a banana foster crepe with caramelized bananas and a scoop of vanilla ice cream…

Or I can make crepes into a cake!  Oui, un gâteau de crêpe.  In France, this cake is called a mille crêpe.  Mille, meaning a thousand, refers to the many layers of this beautiful cake (the cake I made has 30 layers).

I had my first crepe cake in Japan a few years ago and immediately fell in love.  I’m still searching for bakeries and pastry shops in Los Angeles that serve this decadent treat.  Thankfully, the crepe cake is now finding fame here in the United States.

While snooping around online bakeries, I came across a beautiful mille crepe from the famous Lady M Cake Boutique located in the Upper East Side of New York City.  Mille Crepes is their signature cake.  A 6 inch will cost you $40 and a 9 inch runs you $75.  And if you don’t happen to live in NYC, they will deliver it for about another $40.  Yes.  All that money for this dainty little thing.  (Aside from their online store, I also found it for sale at Gilt Taste.)

This is a simple recipe with a fairly inexpensive list of ingredients.  If you don’t have vanilla beans, you can easily swap in vanilla paste or vanilla extract.  As for the other items, they are staples you’d normally have in your pantry.

Once you get the technique of swirling the batter in the crepe pan, making this cake is a breeze.  It is also a lot easier and faster if you have more than one crepe pan cooking at a time.  You can make as many layers as you’d like or even steal a couple layers to make yourself a nice savory snack.

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Gâteau de Crêpes (Crepe Cake)

Ingredients:

Crepe Batter:

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 7 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla paste)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Assembly:

  • Vegetable or corn oil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Kirsch
  • optional 2 Tbsp sugar for brulee

Directions:

Crepe Batter:

  1. Brown the butter.  In a small pan, cook the butter until it is fragrant and the milk solids have turn brown.  Set aside.
  2. In another pan, boil the milk.  Turn off heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Beat together eggs, flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter.  Mix until smooth and combined.  Pour into an airtight container and refrigerator overnight (or at least 2 hours).

Pastry Cream:

  1. In a saucepan, bring milk and vanilla bean (along with scrapings) to a boil.  Set aside and let vanilla steep for 10 minutes, then remove the bean.  Prepare an ice bath, buy filling a large bowl with ice.  Have a smaller bowl ready (bowl large enough to hold the finished pastry pastry).
  2. In another pot, whisk together yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.  Temper in hot milk by gradually whisking it in.  Place the pot over high heat and bring to a bowl, whisking vigorously for a minute or two.
  3. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl and place over the ice bath.  Stir the pastry cream until the temperature reaches 140 degrees F.  Stir in the butter.  When the pastry cream is cool, cover and refrigerate.

Assembly:

  1. Bring the crepe batter to room temperature.  Place crepe pan over medium heat.   Lightly grease the surface with oil and add about 3 Tbsp of batter (if using a 9 inch pan) and tilt pan in a circular motion to cover the surface of the pan.
  2. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown and then flip the crepe with your fingers.  An offset spatula is helpful if your fingers cannot withstand the heat.  Cook on the other side for no more than 5 seconds.  Flip the crepe into a parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat until you have used all the batter or have at least 20 prefect crepes.
  3. Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon of sugar and Kirsch.  Whip to soft peaks.  Fold into the pastry cream in three stages.
  4. Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate.  Spread a thin later of pastry cream over the crepe.  Cover with another crepe and repeat to make a stack.  Remember to save your best looking crepe to place on top.
  5. Chill cake for at least 2 hours.  Let cake sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Optional:  Before serving, sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sugar and caramelize with torch.

Gâteau de Crêpes,  from New York Times food article (May 15, 2005)

Crepe batter, adapted from Joy of Cooking

Pastry Cream, adapted from Desserts by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan

 

   

15 Responses to “Gâteau de Crêpes (Crepe Cake)”

  1. September 14, 2011
    7:18 pm
    Tina says...

    You did a wonderful job here. I have never made crepes before. I think that due to their delicate nature, creating this cake was not an easy task. By reading the ingredient list, I know it must be delicious.

  2. September 14, 2011
    8:01 pm
    S.V. says...

    This cake looks amazing. Seriously all the layer it’s just lovely. I bet it taste wonderful.

  3. September 14, 2011
    8:25 pm
    Kristin says...

    I love crepes, but I never heard of a crepe CAKE before. Just lovely!

  4. September 14, 2011
    8:38 pm

    I love crepe cakes!! Its my goal to make one by the end of the year. My friend in NY loves the place you mentioned- yours came out looking great!

  5. September 14, 2011
    11:16 pm

    This is so beautiful! I’ve seen cakes like this, but I’ve never tried it. It looks so good!! I love crepes!

  6. September 15, 2011
    3:43 pm
    Anonymous says...

    Very impressive!! I’ve made savory crepe cakes and they always had a dome. This one is absolutely gorgeous with all the layers and the flat top!

  7. September 15, 2011
    3:59 pm
    ValHalla says...

    I did this once–it is not difficult, just time consuming. But so worth it when you see your guests’ reaction. Like our reaction when seeing these photographs, as it looks amazing!
    Instead of making pastry cream, you can use jam or whipped cream, it is so adaptable.

  8. September 16, 2011
    3:28 am

    Thank you everyone! My family enjoyed this cake so much that I’ll be making another one very soon. Except, next time I’ll be filling it with alternating it with layers of mascarpone and caramel!

    @ValHalla- jam is a great idea! I have a bunch of jams and preserves I made over this summer that need to get used up! Thanks!

  9. September 24, 2011
    2:44 am
    Minerva says...

    I am loving your blog and photos! Marjorie told me about it! Lady M in NY is known for their crepe cakes and I remember their having a chestnut flavor during the winter holidays… If I ever have a wedding in LA, can you do all my desserts?

  10. September 29, 2011
    11:38 am
    Anonymous says...

    I used have this all the time while I lived in Tokyo!! I made it again last night, It was absolutely amazing!!
    I saw one in a small store in Shinjuku, where the filling was like a strawberry shortcake, but with crepes replacing the sponge.

  11. October 1, 2011
    5:39 pm

    @Minerva- Thanks! Yes, please get married in LA. I’d love to make your desserts!

  12. July 14, 2012
    1:35 am
    Anonymous says...

    Love this recipe, I usually make traditional crepes for Bastille day and this year I decided to try this …..loved it and it is so easy to change it…a little chocolate, jam…you name it ..be creative

  13. May 1, 2013
    1:53 pm
    anonymous says...

    Yippiee! Lady M is opening a shop in Los Angeles… fingers crossed it opens by summer 2013. They have a location on 3rd street picked out… right next to the Beverly Center.

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