Mille Crêpes Cake
(Makes about 1 eight-inch cake)
For the crêpe batter:
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
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:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoon sugar or more
- Make the crêpe batter and the pastry cream the day before.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a mixer to whip the heavy cream with the sugar - it won't hold strong peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.
- 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.
- If you have a kitchen torch, sprinkle the top crepe with granulated sugar and caramelize with the torch.
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!