Gâteau de Crêpes

This incredible cake was a truly a Father’s Day tribute. I made it for my husband to celebrate what an amazing dad he is to our kids. ❤ We enjoyed it after spending the day at a gorgeous New York State Park, Planting Fields Arboretum.

Making a crêpe cake was also a memorial to my dad. When I was growing up, my dad made crêpes on Sundays for breakfast and he taught me how to make them. When my family brought me to college in Boston, we went downtown to a beautiful Williams-Sonoma and my dad selected crêpe pans to give me as a “going away to school gift.” I treasure them.

I also built the cake on a special cake plate that once belonged to my French grandparents. ❤

I’ve wanted to make a crêpe cake for quite some time. My food-blog friends Suzanne and Mimi inspired me to finally make this fabulous dessert. Thanks, ladies! 🙂 This recipe is from the New York Times, via Smitten Kitchen.com. The original recipe adapted the batter from ”Joy of Cooking” and the pastry cream from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. I omitted the Kirsch, made the crepes in advance, and increased the sugar in the filling.

I’m sharing this special dessert at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #178. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 12

For the Crêpe 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 whole 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 Assembly:

  • vegetable oil, such as canola or corn
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or more ( I used 4 T in the cream plus 2 T for brûlée)
  • 3 tablespoons Kirsch, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional (if not doing brûlée)

The day before serving, make the crêpe batter and the pastry cream.

To Make the Batter:

  1. In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside.
  2. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter.
  4. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To Make the Pastry Cream:

  1. Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean.
  2. 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.
  4. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl.
  6. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  7. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

To Make the Crêpes & Assemble the Cake (the next day):

  1. Bring the batter to room temperature.
  2. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crêpe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil (I used a brush), then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface.
  3. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crêpe with your fingers or a thin metal spatula. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds.
  4. Flip the crêpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crêpes. (I made 22 crêpes.) Note: I tightly wrapped the crêpes in plastic wrap and refrigerated them for several hours before assembling the cake.
  5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more.
  6. Whip the heavy cream with the 1-4 T sugar and the Kirsch, if using. It won’t hold peaks.
  7. Fold it into the pastry cream.
  8. Lay 1 crêpe on a cake plate.
  9. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup).
  10. Cover with a crêpe and repeat to make a stack of 20 (or 22!), with the best-looking crêpe on top.
  11. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving.
  12. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crêpe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice like a cake.

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Three Cheese Crepe Manicotti

During my college days, I was lucky enough to celebrate Easter with one of my roommates and her large Italian family. It was always an amazing feast. One of the first courses served was a homemade manicotti. I’ve loved it ever since- and now think of it in the springtime.

I was drawn to the “French” twist in this version, using crêpes in lieu of pasta. They were tender and delicious. Lovely.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine contributed by Christine Dimmick. I adjusted the seasoning and ratios. I also modified the crêpe batter technique from using a blender to hand-whisking, and to cooking them on a lightly oiled crêpe pan, my tried and true method. This dish could be modified to include any variety of fillings in the crêpes. Next time I may incorporate spinach or mushrooms. 🙂

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (15 ounces), preferably fresh
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 6 ounces)(part-skim okay)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped basil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • vegetable oil, for the pans
  • 3 cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade (I used local Mamma Lombardi’s Marinara Sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta with the mozzarella, basil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the water and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat an 8-inch crêpe or omelet pan over moderately high heat. Using a brush, lightly oil the pan and add a small ladle of the batter (about 1/4 cup); working quickly, swirl the pan to coat it evenly.
  4. Cook until the top of the crêpe is dry and the bottom is lightly golden, about 1 minute. Flip the crêpe and cook until the bottom is lightly golden, about 20 seconds longer.
  5. Transfer the crêpe to a large plate and repeat with the remaining batter to make a total of 16 crêpes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  7. Coat the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish with 1 cup of the tomato sauce.
  8. Arrange the crêpes on a work surface. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling in a line down the center of each crêpe. Loosely roll up the crêpes, burrito-style with ends folded in, and arrange them, seam side up, side by side in the baking dish. (I placed them in 2 rows of 8 crêpes.)
  9. Pour the remaining 2 cups of tomato sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  10. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the manicotti are heated through.
  11. Garnish with basil, if desired. Serve piping hot.

Make Ahead: The unbaked manicotti can be refrigerated overnight. Allow up to 15 minutes longer for baking.

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Buckwheat Crepes with Asparagus, Gruyère, & Prosciutto

This is another yummy dish that I made while visiting my mom over spring break. It was a special recipe to try during our visit because my dad made amazing breakfast crepes every Sunday morning during my childhood and also because my grandfather was from Brittany; this is a classic dish from that region. I also absolutely love using my dad’s perfectly seasoned crepe pans! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. Due to technical difficulties, I substituted whole wheat flour for buckwheat flour in the crepes- they were still delicious! (I would make them with buckwheat flour, if possible, next time though.) I also substituted prosciutto for ham in the filling.

According to Tanis, these crepes are traditionally served with a glass of sparkling cider. We gobbled them up with red wine and green salad. Spring-time asparagus heaven.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 cup/120 grams buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup/60 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ pounds medium asparagus, trimmed and bottom parts peeled, if desired
  • 12 slices (about 5-6 oz) prosciutto or 6 cooked ham slices
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère or Comté cheese
  • canola or other vegetable oil, for the pan, as needed
  1. Make the batter: Whisk together flours, eggs, buttermilk and salt until well combined. Put the batter in the fridge for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight. Check the consistency after the batter has rested. If necessary, thin batter with a little more buttermilk or water, to the consistency of heavy cream prior to cooking.
  2. Heat a crepe pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet, about 8 inches in diameter, over medium-high heat. (I used 2 pans.)
  3. Using a pastry brush, apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the pan(s), then quickly ladle in about 1/4 cup of batter. Swirl the pan to spread the batter all the way to the perimeter. Let crepe brown on one side for a minute or so, until crisp. Flip it over with a spatula (or carefully with your fingers) and cook one minute more. Don’t worry about browning the second side. Adjust heat if crepe browns too quickly; the pan needn’t be scorching hot. Remove from heat if crepe is cooking too quickly.
  4. Remove the crepe from the pan and set it aside while you continue to cook the remaining batter. Stack crepes on top of each other as they are finished. (Crepes may be made in advance.)
  5. Bring a medium pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is firm-tender, then drain and spread on a clean kitchen towel to cool.
  6. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. On parchment-lined baking sheets, fill the crepes by laying each one top-side down (the prettier side), place a slice of prosciutto on top, sprinkle generously with cheese, and lay 3-5 asparagus spears on top, off to one side. Fold over to make a half-moon.
  8. Drizzle the folded crepes with a little melted butter, then bake until they are crisp and the cheese is melted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

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My Dad’s Breakfast Crepes

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Growing up, my Dad made these delicious crepes every Sunday morning. Now, I make them every year on Christmas morning for my family. We eat them with a light sprinkling of granulated sugar inside, sometimes with jam or fruit salad as options too. The crepes have the best flavor if the batter rests for an hour or so before cooking. Special and wonderful! This year, the kids took turns playing Christmas music on the piano after we had finished eating- Deck the Halls! 🙂

Proportions per person:

  • 1 egg (I made 1 dozen eggs for 10 people)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • vanilla extract, to taste (I used 1 T for one dozen eggs)
  • milk, added until desired consistency is achieved (1 percent okay)
  • pinch of coarse salt or sea salt, optional
  • canola oil, for cooking
  • sugar, jam, and/or fruit salad, for serving
  1. Beat the eggs and flour together with a wire whisk until no lumps remain and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl in bands.
  2. Add vanilla and salt, if using, and whisk to combine.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk until the batter has a pourable consistency. (I prefer thin crepes and make the batter relatively thin.)
  4. Let the batter rest. (Ideally  for one hour.)
  5. Warm a plate over a pot of simmering water- to keep the cooked crepes warm.
  6. Warm crepe pans over medium heat. Brush the surface of each hot pan with oil before adding batter. Ladle and then and swirl the batter in the pan to spread it into a thin layer covering the entire surface. Flip when bubbles are noted and the edges of the crepe appear dry and start to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove from pan when slightly brown on the second side. Stack.
  7. Serve with granulated sugar, jam, and/or fruit salad. Sprinkle the topping over the entire surface and then roll it up to eat. Enjoy!

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Buckwheat Crepes with Mix & Match Creamy Mushroom, Caramelized Sweet Onion, Sautéed Greens, & Citrus Shrimp Fillings

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Crepes are a special dish in my family. Growing up, my dad made crepes every Sunday morning. He gave me my fabulous crepe pans when I went away to college. 🙂 I made this dish to celebrate a BIG birthday coming up for my Mom when she and my brother came to visit. It was fun to eat with a group because the toppings could be mixed and matched to each persons’ taste. This recipe was adapted from Food Network Magazine.

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • canola oil, for the crepe pans or skillet
  • Assorted fillings (see below)

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For the Crepes:

  1. Combine the melted butter, both flours, the milk, eggs and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Let the batter rest at room temperature at least 1 hour or overnight. Stir in the parsley, if desired.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the crepe pans (I use 2 at a time) or a skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles in it. Lightly oil the pan(s), then add a scant 1/3 cup batter and quickly swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook until the crepe sets and browns around the edges, about 2 minutes. Carefully lift with a flexible metal spatula, flip over and cook about 30 more seconds. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil as needed and stacking the finished crepes. Wrap the crepes in a damp dish towel and place in the oven to reheat, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with assorted fillings.

Note: Crepes can be made a day ahead. Just wrap in plastic and refrigerate, then reheat before assembling.

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Creamy Mushroom Filling:

  • 3 T butter
  • 20 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add wild mushrooms and 2 thyme sprigs; saute until the mushrooms are golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and add 2/3 cup heavy cream; toss to warm through.
  3. Remove from the heat and add a handful of parsley.

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Caramelized Sweet Onion Filling:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 sliced onions and 2 thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

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Sauteed Greens Filling:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 16-20 oz (or more!) mixed greens such as spinach, kale, chard, beet greens (I used kale, chard & beet greens)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and cook until just wilted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Citrus Shrimp Filling:

  • 1 1/4 pounds shrimp (peeled)
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 2 sprigs parsley or tarragon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  1. Sauté shrimp in 2 tablespoons butter with lemon zest, tarragon (or parsley) sprigs, and salt and pepper until the shrimp turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice and white wine and simmer 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

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