Lady J cake
With Bastille day just around the corner, a famous saying came to mind. "Let them eat cake"! Just for this occasion, I decided to try my hand at an ever so popular dessert: the crêpe cake.So, with no further ado, here is my own version to share.
The recipe is nothing new. The famous pastry chef, Pierre Hermé published his recipe, followed by Amanda Hesser of the New York Times Food Section. The latter is easy to follow, but I will add some notes so you will not run into trouble along the way.
FOR THE CREPE BATTER:
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
1 ½ cups flour
7 tablespoons sugar
FOR THE VANILLA PASTRY CREAM:
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
6 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup cornstarch, sifted
3 ½ tablespoons butter
FOR THE ASSEMBLY:
Vegetable oil (canola, corn, anything but olive)
16 ozs or 2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar or more
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Rum
1 tablespoon Confectioners' sugar
The day before, make the crêpe batter and the pastry cream. For the batter: In a small pan, cook the beurre noisette (brown the butter). Set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pastry cream: Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.
In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.
Assemble the cake the next day: Bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crêpe pan over medium heat. Watch the video! Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 3 tablespoons 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 with your fingers (use rubber dish gloves to avoid getting fingers burned). Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crêpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crêpes.
Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more. Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar and the Rum or Grand Marnier until stiff. Fold it into the pastry cream.The pastry cream will be dense and thick, use a wire whisk to break up cream and fold together.
Lay first crêpe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover with a crêpe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crêpe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving. If you have a blowtorch for crème brûlée, sprinkle the top crêpe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners' sugar. Slice like a cake. Batter adapted from ''Joy of Cooking.'' Pastry cream adapted from ''Desserts,'' by Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan. Recipe adapted from Amanda Hesser of the New York Times food section.