The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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Gâteau de Crêpes

April 10, 2013 , ,

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It’s been a long break my friends. It’s been a windy road with work and now time is especially sparse as I move into day 13 of my Bikram 30 day challenge. Time is of the essence. Which is why I come back with a bang. I hope you will be pleased.

Before I move on with what P and I cooked up lately, what have you been up to my dear readers? Spring finally broke through today and I’m excited to hear what you’ve been up cooking up in the kitchen and spending your sunny days. Many of my Brooklyn friends have been taking advantage of the Home Depot spring sale to fully prepare for the coming season. I, on the other hand have been pushing myself through one and half hours of Bikram every day. (More on this later!)

Onto the cake!

The crepe cake – Gâteau de Crêpes.

I originally saw the recipe on the Times with their feature on Mille Crêpes at Lady M Cake Boutique. P followed the trail to Smitten Kitchen, which led him right to my kitchen; turning out crepes like a pro like I held the blowtorch at the ready to caramelize wayyyyy before the cake was even finished.

Sometimes…life in Brooklyn is delightful.

This cake has been around for a while, but it is only Mille Crepes that holds the trademark. You can read about that here. It’s all very New York-y and mysteriously fun.

The Times recipe is pieced together with a Crepe recipe from The Joy of Baking and a vanilla pastry cream from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. Both are a big time suck but the end result is so delightful, it’s hard to imagine why I was complaining about having to make a ice bath. As with most things, this cake is best made with two people. Peter took the batter and I took the pastry cream.

When the two came together, magic happened.

Please note that patience is key. Both the cream and the batter have to be made the night before. And regardless of the fact that the pastry chefs at Mille Crepes can churn this sucker out in 6 minutes, it takes an average mortal much longer to make and ice 20 crepes. (Or 24 if you’re baking with us!) We found the crepe batter to be a bit liquid-y so we added a touch more flour. Do a few test runs and use your judgment.

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For the crepe batter:
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
7 tablespoons sugar
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:
Corn oil
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar or more
3 tablespoons Kirsch
Confectioners’ sugar.

1. The day before, make the crepe batter and the pastry cream. Batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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4. Assemble the cake the next day: Bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. 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 crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crepes.

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5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more. Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar and the Kirsch. It won’t hold peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.
6. Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving.

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7. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. If you don’t have a blow torch go buy one immediately even if it’s only for this cake.

*Batter adapted from ”Joy of Cooking.” Pastry cream adapted from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan.

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