I am quite adept a cooking crepes. I should be. For about a year, I spent 3 hours a day for 3 - 4 days a week cooking up 10 litres of crepe batter for the pancake restaurant I was working in. The music would be turned up loud and I would go into the zone like a machine. I usually had 4 - 5 burners going at a time and I got the technique down pat. I'm sure if anybody did it for this long, they would be quite adept as well.
I saw this crepe cake a few months ago and it has been in my memory, sweet-talking to me ever since. Last week, with Pancake Day looming, I googled crepe cake and found this post in which a crepe cake is eaten. That particular cake was made with pastry cream.
With my fascination with egg based sauces still invading every waking thought, I felt this was more appropriate. So today, I sat down to figure my plan of action.
The first step was to decide what sort of cream to use. According to the gospel, it is worth defining the difference between a pastry cream, a creme anglaise and a custard.
A pastry cream is "meant to stay put in a dish and hold (it's) shape. (It is) therefore stiffened with a substantial dose of flour or cornstarch..."
A creme anglaise is a "pourable cream" and should only be as thick as double cream when cooled to room temperature.
A custard is "...a dish (that is) prepared and served in the same container, often baked and therefore unstirred, so that it sets into a solid gel."
By definition, the custard ruled itself out. The cake in the 'inspiration post' said that pastry cream was used for the layers, but I'm not a particular fan of pastry cream and besides, I did really want to prepare the creme anglaise.
The result was light yet very filling and not overly sweet. It went well for our afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Dan was particularly impressed. Next time I think I would be inclined to add a layer of lemon curd or other equally tart jam to add an extra element to cake. Unfortunately, it did take a good 3 hours to prepare, so I think it's going to be stuck with a 'for special occasions' label.
Makes approximately 22 crepes - each 26cm in diameter
400g sifted flour
Pinch of salt
1 litre milk
Add the eggs to the flour with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the milk. Beat together until incorporated. Add in the rest of the milk and beat until the consistency of double cream. Leave to stand for at least one hour. Pour the batter into a jug through a sieve to ensure that no lumps remain. Heat a 23cm nonstick frying pan to medium high.
When heated, pour in a generous amount of the batter and swirl it to cover the base of the frying pan. Pour out any excess batter back into the jug. When the edges start to crinkle and dry out, try to loosen the pancake with a spatula. When reasonably loose and cooked, flip. When the cake is cook, it will not stick to the fry pan. Place the crêpe on an upside down plate covered in a paper towel. Repeat as above until no batter remains. Patience is a virtue! And eat the first one because it's never any good.
by Nigel Slater
2 egg yolks
200mls single cream
6 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
While the crepe batter is standing, walk to the co-op and grab some milk, cream, bananas, apples and icing sugar. Measure the milk and cream into a heavy saucepan and heat on a medium high heat with the vanilla pod split lengthwise. Bring to boiling point. Nigel reckons that you will know boiling point right when the milk starts to quiver and tiny little bubbles start to appear on the edges - do not boil! While the milk is heating, beat together the eggs and sugar until light and airy. Through a sieve, strain in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the milk and stir through the eggs. Pour the remaining milk into the eggs - again, through the sieve. Stir through thoroughly. Rinse out the saucepan and pour the creme anglaise back into it and return to a low heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the creme anglaise. Stir for 5 or 6 minutes until the creme anglaise starts to thicken. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Stir every now and again until ready to use.
Place one crepe onto a flat plate no defined rim. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the custard and spread over the bottom crepe. Place another crepe onto the creme anglaise and again, spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the creme anglaise on top. Continue layering until everything has run out, finally finishing with a crepe on top. Sprinkle over a bit of Demerera sugar over the cake and either caramelise the sugar with a blow torch or under a very hot grill.