Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Studio 5: Crêpe Cakes!

I'm not a baker.  People don't believe me, but it's true.  A baker bakes...regularly and with proficiency.

This is what I bake; Gigi's Carrot Cake for my husband's birthday and Father's day.  The end.  LOL

I sometimes bake things at Christmas time.  And occasionally a brownie mix, but for the most part, my husband does the baking; Yes, I'm lucky.  He's really good at it!

So this Crepe cake intrigued me. Imagine your favorite crepes & fillings, piled up into a beautiful layered masterpiece, ready for any special occasion!  Wonderfully simple and customizable for your favorite combinations!

All you need is a big pile of crepes, a filling and something pretty for the top.
There is a few tips that are helpful and will keep your crepe cake from sliding apart and tasting delicious!

Any crepe recipe will work here, but here is my tried & true Betty Crocker recipe I've been making for 36 years!

Basic Crepes

4 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
2 Tbsp oil, margarine or butter, melted
1 cup Pillsbury's Best All purpose or Unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Sugar (if making dessert crepes)

In a medium bowl (I use my blender) beat eggs slightly.  Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.  Cover batter and refrigerate for about  2 hours, this will help the air to settle from the batter and give you a smoother crepe.

Heat crepe pan or 7-8 inch skillet over medium-high heat (375 degrees).
A few drops of water sprinkled on the pan sizzle and bounce when heat is just right.  Grease pan  lightly with butter.  I use a bunched up paper towel that I dip in butter and rub on pan before each crepe.  You might not need the non-stick power of butter, but it'll brown up better with it. 
Pour about 1/3 cup batter into pan, tilting pan to spread evenly.  When crepe is light brown and set, turn to brown the other side for just a minute.  Remove from pan.  Repeat with remaining batter to make about 14 crepes. stacking cooked crepes. 

Refridgerate for a few days in fridge or freeze, layer crepes between wax paper or parchment paper.  Wrap and store up to 3 months.

Stabilized Whipped Cream
Next and most importantly is a stabilized whipped cream...it's also called fortified whipped cream.  This is the trick you need so your crepes don't fall off of each other.

This is a must-have recipe for your kitchen, especially if you love desserts with whipped cream in them.  It's very easy and just a few extra steps than regular whipped cream.  I took a bunch of step-by-step pictures for this (my husband is my cream maker!), but decided to just share a link to a great tutorial at Our Best Bites website.

This is the fun part!  What is your favorite crepe filling?  I love Strawberry & Lemon.  But I also fancy some traditional Nutella & Banana on occasion.  I also thought Blueberry & lemon would be a good combo.

I'm giving you my recipes for these versions, but think of these as a master recipe which allows you to be creative and do your own thing.

Assembly & decoration
It is very important to let this cake set up in the fridge for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight.  This is great!  I love making things ahead of time.  Do, however, leave the top and decoration for right before serving.

Lastly,  You can change up the size of you crepe cakes.  Just use a small 4 or 5" pan, or cut out 3" circles from a regular crepe.

Little individual crepe cakes would be perfect for a dinner party, bridal or baby shower!

Strawberry/Lemon  Mascarpone Crepe Cake
(light, sweet and a little tangy, perfect for Spring)

15 - 20 Crepes
1 cup pureed strawberries
1 cup lemon curd (see recipe below or use store bought)
1 cup mascarpone (or Cream cheese), softened & whipped
9 cups stabilized whipped cream (see recipe link above)
2 cups sliced strawberries
8 similar sized strawberries, cut in half through the green.
powdered sugar
optional: 1/4 cup candied lemon peel
Make crepes (see recipe above) and store in fridge or layer between parchment or wax paper and store in freezer for up to 3 months.

Fold strawberry puree with 2 cups of stabilized whipped cream and 1/2 cup mascarpone.  Taste.  Strawberries can be sweet or tart, or somewhere in between.  If tart, add a Tbsp of powdered sugar a little bit at a time until you get the sweetness you like.  Continue folding in 2 more cups of stabilized whipped cream.   Cover and put in fridge until ready to use.

Fold Lemon Curd with 1 cup of whipped cream and 1/2 cup mascarpone.  Finish folding remaining 2 cups of whipped cream.  You will have a little bit less lemon mousse than strawberry mousse because you will start and finish with the strawberry mousse.  Reserve the last 3 cups of whipped cream for piping on top.

Lay one crepe on serving dish and place about 1/2 cup strawberry mousse in center.  Use a metal spatula to spread mousse all over surface and pushing out towards edges. 
For extra strawberry flavor, I thinly sliced large strawberries (Costco!) on my mandolin, or just practice your cutting skills.  I placed these on top of each layer of strawberry mousse.

Place another crepe on top and repeat with lemon mousse.  Continue alternating between strawberry and lemon mousse until you run out.  finish with a crepe on top.  As you are layering, make sure the cake is laying even.  Press down gently on the side that is uneven if necessary.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight (preferable)

Finish by dusting top of cake with powdered sugar.  Pipe rest of whipped cream into rosettes (one per serving).  Sprinkles with candied lemon peel and place half of a strawberry (if large) or a whole (if small) into each rosette.  Slice & serve!

Optional:  Blueberry/lemon version.
Omit directions for Strawberry Mousse.  Substitute Blueberry curd (see Lemon Curd recipe below) for Lemon curd. 

I spooned on the Nutella Ganache (see recipe below), piped some cream and decorated with fresh blueberries and Lindor Blueberrie chocolates that I broke into pieces.

Nutella & Banana Crepe Cake
(rich & chocolately with a Nutella Ganache)

15 - 20 Crepes
8 cups stabilized whipped cream (see recipe link above)
1 3/4 cups Nutella divided
1/2 cup heavy cream + 2 Tbsp
1 tsp kosher salt
6 bananas
8-12 Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut chocolates 

Make crepes (see recipe above) and store in fridge or layer between parchment or wax paper and store in freezer for up to 3 months.

Place 1 cup nutella in microwave on low temp for 20-30 seconds.  Keep checking as you don't want it warm at all, just loosened up a bit.  Fold into 1 cup of stabilized whipped cream.  Fold another cup of whipped cream into Nutella mixture.  Finish by folding rest of whipped cream for mousse.  Cover and put in fridge until ready to use.

Lay one crepe on serving dish and place about 1/2 cup Nutella mousse in center.  Use a metal spatula to spread mousse all over surface and pushing out towards edges. 
Slice a banana thinly (do this one at a time, otherwise bananas will brown. 
Cover top of mousse with one layer of sliced bananas. 
Place another crepe on top and repeat with more mousse.   
Continue alternating between just mousse and mousse & banana slices until you run out,  finish with a crepe on top.  As you are layering, make sure the cake is laying even.  Press down gently on the side that is uneven if necessary.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight (preferable)

Once ready to serve, place rest of Nutella (1/2 cup heavy cream + 2 Tbsp) in a bowl.  Place 1/2 cup heavy cream in a pot and heat (but not boil).  Pour over Nutella and mix until smooth.  Mix in salt. 
Check consistency of ganache.  It should drop  from a spoon smoothly (no gaps), but not runny.  Start by pouring onto center top of cake.  It should naturally move towards edges of cake and drip down.  You might need to move it in this direction if your ganache is tight.  That's ok!  It takes a bit of practice to know the right consistency.

Use the rest of the stabilized whipped cream to pipe rosettes on top of the cake (as many as you wish slices).  Unwrap Ferrero Rocher chocolates and tuck one & a thick slice of banana into the center of each rosette.   Optionally sprinkle Chocolate sprinkles over top of cake.  A friend had given me a box of De Ruijter Belgium sprinkles...they are actually use this on toast!  My kind of toast! 

Lemon Curd & Candied Lemon Peel
(My favorite recipe, always smooth with a perfect sweet & sour balance)

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp room temp butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
Approx 6 lemons you'll get...
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sliced lemon peel
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions:  I like to make curd and candied lemon peel at the same time to get the most out of the lemons.

Start by grating 1 lemon.  cover and set aside.  You'll be adding this to the curd once it's finished cooking.

Peel rest of lemons with a zesting tool like this.  It will give you thin strips.  Alternatively, you can cut by hand, but you'll have to do it after you've juiced.  This tool is from pampered chef.

After you have zested lemons, juice them.  You should have a little over 2/3 cup juice.

Beat butter & sugar in a mixing bowl until  light and fluffy.  Add one egg at a time and beat in between additions.  Beat for a minute.  Add lemon juice slowly and mix until incorporated.  It will look curdled at this point.  No worries.  Place mixture into a thick bottomed pan and heat on low, stirring, until the mixture is smooth.

Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Don't let it boil.  It is now curd!  Add zest, mix in.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.  It will store in fridge for a week or you can freeze for a few months.

Optional:  Blueberry/lemon curd
Instead of adding just lemon juice, add 2 cups blueberry sauce and 1/4 cup lemon juice.
to make blueberry sauce, simmer fresh or frozen blueberries in a pan for 5-7 minutes until soft.  Mash and strain.

Candied Lemon Peel/zest
Place zested lemon peel into a pan of water, just covering and bring to a boil.  Let it boil hard for 30 seconds.  drain peel in a colander.  Place back in pan, again cover with water and bring to a boil, hard for 30 seconds.  Drain.  This process removes any bitterness in the lemon.

Pour 2 cups of water into same pan and add 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Heat until sugar dissolves.  Add lemon peel and bring to a hard boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (If you use the tool I recommend above, you'll have thin pieces of lemon and it doesn't take long to cook.  To make sure, remove one and bite it, if it's easy to bite, they are done.  If you are using larger pieces of peel, you'll want to cook a little longer.

Drain from pan (you can save the liquid, it's like lemon syrup) and place lemon peel on a piece of parchment and cool for 10-15 minutes.  It should feel a bit tacky.  Toss into some super fine sugar to coat.    Place back on parchment and let dry for several hours. 

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