The crepe cake has become incredibly trendy in recent years, featuring in high end patisseries and bakeries with their delicate and perfect layers showing when you slice into it. Crepe cakes can be quite pricey if you buy them but as I found out, making your own crepe cake saves a lot of money and is an amazing showstopper because it is just really over the top! This is my Crepe Cake with White Chocolate Crème Légère.
I have never made crepes before so the thought of making at least 20 crepes for the crepe cake was rather intimidating. Fortunately crepe making is not too difficult; the hardest part is standing there constantly for well over an hour making crepes and stacking and filling the crepes making sure the filling is evenly distributed. My method of making the crepe batter is whisking together the dry ingredients with the egg to form a thick paste before gradually (and alternately) whisking in the milk and melted margarine to form a smooth batter.
I use around 60ml of the batter per crepe and use a non-stick frying pan to cook the crepes. I like to pour out the batter into a smaller bowl to make it easier to pour into the pan. When the batter hits the pan, I give the pan a swirl so the batter covers the base of the pan. While the crepe cooks, I get the next portion of batter ready. The crepes are ready to flip when the edges begin to brown; I use a rice cooker paddle to lift and flip the crepe, which should now be nicely spotty golden brown on the top. Then I cook the second side until it is again a spotty golden brown and transfer to a cooling rack and repeating until I use up all the batter.
This quantity of batter makes 28 7-inch crepes, which makes extra than the amount of filling in the recipe. This allows some room for error in case some of the crepes split and there are some extra crepes for eating yourself too, the cook’s perks!! I like to use an ice cream scoop to evenly portion up the filling for each layer so there is less risk of the crepe cake becoming uneven as the crepe cake grows in height.
The filling for most crepe cakes is simply a sweetened whipped cream but the filling I chose was a white chocolate crème légère, which is a white chocolate pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. The pastry cream firms up nicely but the addition of the whipped cream definitely slackens the filling down. And while the chocolate aids the setting, the filling is not necessarily runny but there is a distinct jiggly quality to the whole cake when the crepes are stacked up with the filling. It benefits from at least an hour in the fridge after assembling and a very sharp knife to serve.
The crepes can be made up to 3 days in advance and the pastry cream the day before, making this the perfect make ahead dessert. To store the crepes, you need to place a square of baking parchment between each crepe to prevent them sticking to each other and breaking. I wrap the whole stack in a double layer of clingfilm and a foil layer for good measure and take them out of the fridge about an hour before I am ready to assemble the cake.
For the crepe batter
275g plain flour
95g granulated sugar
700ml whole milk
90g margarine, melted
For the crème légère
360ml whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
70g granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornflour
125g white chocolate
300ml double cream
For the decoration
Matcha powder, to dust
Sprinkles, in assorted shapes and colours
First prepare the crepe batter. Combine the plain flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack all 6 eggs into the well and whisk the eggs in the well to combine. Gradually make larger circles with the whisk to incorporate the dry ingredients slowly to form a relatively thick mixture.
Add about a quarter of the milk and whisk to incorporate until it is even. Add around half of the melted margarine and whisk in. Continue to alternate the addition of the wet ingredients until the batter is even, a pale vanilla colour and has the consistency of single cream. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Heat a non-stick 7-inch frying pan over a medium-high heat (I found a 4 setting on electric hobs to work best). Give the batter a whisk before measuring out 60ml of the batter (roughly ¼ cup if you have cup measures). Lift the frying pan off the heat and pour in the crepe batter, immediately swirling the pan so the batter covers the base of the pan. You can add a little bit more batter to cover up any small gaps that aren’t covered.
Return the pan to the heat and leave the crepe to cook for about 45 seconds to a minute. When the edges of the crepe begin to turn brown, run a spatula (or in my case, a rice cooker paddle) around the edge to loosen and flip the crepe to cook the other side. The top should be a spotty golden brown. Cook the crepe for a further 45 seconds until the base is also a spotty golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool and repeat until all the batter is used up.
For the pastry cream, heat the milk and vanilla in a large saucepan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornflour to coat the sugar (this makes it incorporate more evenly). Add the eggs and whisk until it is even. While constantly whisking, pour in the warm milk to temper the eggs. Return the mixture to the pan and cook until the pastry cream is silky and thick, whisking constantly to prevent the bottom burning.
Place the margarine and white chocolate into the base of a large bowl. Pour the pastry cream through a sieve to remove lumps over the margarine and white chocolate; the residual heat will melt them. Whisk the pastry cream until it is even, cover with clingfilm, pressing it onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool fully.
Whip the double cream in a large bowl until it forms soft but thick peaks. Whisk in the pastry cream until it is evenly mixed. Return to the fridge for an hour to firm up, uncovered.
When you are ready to assemble the crepe cake, place one crepe on your serving board/plate. Spread 1 ice cream scoopful of the crème légère on the crepe, making sure it is an even layer all the way to the edges. Place a crepe on top and repeat the filling and layering process until you have used up all of the filling, making sure you end on a filling layer.
Chill the cake for about an hour uncovered before dusting the surface of the crepe cake with the matcha powder and decorating with a handful of sprinkles. Use a sharp knife to slice and serve the crepe cake.