Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mille Crêpes Cake

Happy birthday to my sweetheart, Howard! As some of you know, he was born on Groundhog Day and that his favourite cake is the mille crêpes cake from Lady M. To celebrate, I wanted to make him the same cake, but of course there isn't an official Lady M recipe. Luckily, the internet has many speculations on how the cake is made.

The one I followed is from the New York Times. In the article, the author uses the crêpe recipe from Joy of Cooking and the vanilla pastry cream from Desserts by Pierre Hermé and added whipped cream.

Mille Crêpes Cake
(Makes about 1 eight-inch cake)

For the crêpe batter:
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
7 tablespoons sugar
A pinch salt

For the vanilla pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For the assembly, this was adapted from the original article:
Vegetable oil
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoon sugar or more
  1. Make the crêpe batter and the pastry cream the day before. 
  2. Crêpe batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown. Set it aside. In a small pot, heat the milk until it starts steaming and then set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. On medium-low speed with your mixer, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter to the mixture. Pour the batter into a container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Pastry cream: Flatten the vanilla bean and slice it open with a sharp knife. Peel the bean open and scrape the seeds out with the knife. In a small pot, bring the milk with the vanilla bean with scrapings to a boil, set it aside to cool for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with cold water (or ice). In a medium sized pan or small pot, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Place the pan over high heat and bring it to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Set the bowl in the ice bath or cold water and stir until the temperature reaches 140°F (60°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. Cool, cover, and refrigerate.
  4. The next day, bring the batter and pastry cream to room temperature. Place a nonstick 8-inch pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 2-3 tablespoons of batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crêpe. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5-10 seconds. Carefully flip the crêpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crêpes.
  5. Use a mixer to whip the heavy cream with the sugar - it won't hold strong peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.
  6. To assemble, lay a crêpe on a plate. Pipe or use an icing spatula to completely cover the crêpe with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover the pastry cream layer with a crêpe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set it out for 30 minutes in room temperature before serving.
  7. If you have a kitchen torch, sprinkle the top crepe with granulated sugar and caramelize with the torch.
I know it wasn't necessary, but I went out to get a kitchen torch anyways. They weren't too expensive, I was bracing myself to spend around $30 for one and was surprised to find it on sale for $13 at the Bay! The torch isn't filled, so we made a trip to Canadian Tire to find butane fuel, $5.

I made the crêpes batter and pastry cream the night before. The next morning, I stood in front of the stove for hours to cook those crêpes. Then I stood for another hour at the table icing each layer. I even sprinkled the top layer with sugar. Then along comes Howard to perform the fun part. Caramelizing! 

At least I got to take the photos.

I'm kidding, it was great seeing him have so much fun with the torch. And the torch was worth it. That top crunchy layer is the best. I mean, the cake is amazing as a whole, but if it were just layers of crunchy crêpes, that would be awesome too!

We are highly recommending that you try making this cake. Sure, the edges will be ruffled (Howard picked out our black ruffled cake stand to go with this cake) and not as neatly stacked as Lady M's, but the cake itself is tasty and the texture is delicious!

25 comments:

  1. Wow that looks amazing and so unique. I'd love to try it

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  2. Katie, it's so yummy and I find the crepe layers mesmerizing. I hope you do try it!

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  3. I will definitely try it for my next dinner party !

    Helene.

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  4. That's a gorgeous cake. I've always been meaning to make a crepe cake. happy Birthday Howard. Also, what are you doing about the spam? I'm having the same exact problem :(

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  5. Hi Avanika,

    Thank you! I hope you try the cake out. Just deleted all the spam comments - this is more than usual! I don't know what else to do about it. =(

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  6. omg that looks delicious! i shall try to make it one day!

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  7. smilingmango, it's worth it, the pastry cream itself is delicious!

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  9. Just made it! It is great! My sister who tasted the Lady M Mille Crepes Cake said it tasted just like it! Thanks for the recipe & I also made a simple strawberry sauce to go with it. :D

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  10. Maria L., it is so good! I'm craving a piece myself, I guess I'll just have to make it again! Strawberry sauce - great idea!

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  11. Hi, just a question. When you chill your cake for 2 hours, do you leave it inside a box or you just place the cake directly into the fridge? :-) Thanks in advance!
    -Scarlet

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  12. Looks absolutely amazing. Need to get a crepe pan, then I'm making this! No special occasion required. :)

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  13. I just made it and it's chilling. I just had one problem. While putting the layers together, they wanted to slip.

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  14. Hi Scarlet, we chill the cake in a box and sometimes the cake carrier in the fridge. It's just easier to transport the cake this way. =)

    Y, you can do it without a crepe pan! But don't worry, we're tempted to get a crepe pan too. There's a certain appeal in shopping for special pans. ;)

    Anonymous, hmmm, while we did find that the assembly of the cake can get a bit messy, none of the layers slipped. We would recommend chilling the pastry cream for an hour before applying it to the crepes. Or perhaps don't apply too much pastry cream on each layer. We also applied more of the cream to the center of the cake because the weight of the next layers would help spread the cream out. We hope this helps. It should be OK after the whole cake chills.

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  15. Oh my..this look so delicious and easy to do it...thank you for giving me an idea for my 15th wedding anniversary cake!

    Thank you Mille fois!

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    1. Hi Karimhanim, hope the cake turned out!

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  16. Hi Sylvia, is it served cold or hot?

    Thank you ;)

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    1. Hi Bernard,

      The cake is served cold or at room temperature.

      Cheers,
      Sylvia

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  17. Hello!

    I really want to try this recipe (as it looks AWESOME), but I don't own a instant-read thermometer. Is there any other way to tell when to add the butter to the pastry cream without one (as I would rather not have to buy one just for the sake of making a mille crepe, as awesome as it may be)?

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    1. Hi there!

      Give it another 2-3 minutes and then add the butter to the pasty cream. You don't want the cream temperature to be too cold, otherwise the butter won't melt in! That should do the trick, happy mille crepe caking!

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  18. Hi Sylvia,

    Have been surfing for millecrepe recipes all over the net and decided to use yours :)
    Thanks alot for the details recipe + photos.
    I am going to make this for the first time on this coming Thurs, my sis birthday^^
    I am going to substitute the vanilla bean with 1 tsp vanilla extract, would that be sufficient?
    Also, wondering if this cake is pretty sweet or just alright.

    Thanks heapsss

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    1. Hi! That's very nice of you to say, but the credit should still go to the original news article. I do hope you find the photos and steps useful. I hope I'm not to late in responding, but I think 1 tsp of vanilla might work, I don't know as I haven't tried substituting it. But I think that if I did, I would go with 2 tsp of extract. That's just me though, I like vanilla flavors. According to my parents who dislike sweets, this cake is too sweet for them. To me and Howard, it's perfect. And Howard's not a huge sweets fan either (he prefers savory). Best of luck and feel free to email or tweet me if you have any questions!

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  19. Hello! This crepe cake looks fabulous. :)
    Could I just use a good quality raspberry jam in place of the raspberry sauce? & perhaps thin out the jam in a saucepan with some water? I'm not much into shortcuts, but I do find fresh raspberries to be expensive. Other than that, this cake looks like a challenge, and I am up for that!
    Cheers,
    Sara

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sara,

      I think you could use jam, that actually sounds like a great idea and would be delicious. So sorry for the late response, but I hope you crepe cake went well!

      Cheers,
      Sylvia

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