This could be the most epic cake I've ever made.
20 layers of browned-butter crepes, slathered with vanilla bean pastry cream which is lightened with whipped cream between layers, as well as dulce de leche for the last few crepes, then topped with a last layer of crepe that has been sprinkled with coarse brown sugar then broiled until crunchy and caramelized. If this doesn't at least make you stop and stare for a while, well I'm sorry but you are weird.
I had a few slip ups while making this. As usual, the first few crepes are the chef's fodder. My first one actually ripped apart while I was trying to flip it. The second one was slightly better- the edges tore but it was save-able. But after those two, I got the hang of it and finished the batter in a breeze. I got so bored waiting the 30 seconds each crepe takes to cook that I ended up playing with my dulce de leche. I got 20 crepes in total, 21 if you're counting the one that disappeared down my throat, exactly the amount the recipe is supposed to yield.
My second mistake was misreading the recipe and whipping up only half the amount of cream specified. I halved the recipe, so I was supposed to use 1 cup of heavy cream but I used only a 1/2 cup. The good news is that that is more or less my favourite ratio of pastry cream to whipped cream. The bad news is that there wasn't enough filling to go around, hence the dulce de leche for the topmost layers.
Even if I had more filling, I would strongly advise you to go easy on it. I know a few miserly tablespoons for each layer would look barely enough but it will be after you repeat that 19 more times. Also, the layers have a tendency to slide because the filling is still fluid. You really need to refrigerate it as soon as possible for it to firm up so that you don't end up with the leaning tower of cake.
For the dulce de leche layers, I knew that it was quite sweet so I spread just a teaspoon of it on each crepe. What really puzzled me was how that small amount of filling could leak out. Plus, dulce de leche is pretty thick. I think some moisture must have gotten into it while it was in the fridge which loosened it up to a sauce consistency. So beware if you're going to use dulce de leche too! Actually, you should give it a go with the pastry cream- I found that they really work well together.
|step 1: prepare crepes|
|step 2: dollop filling|
|step 3: spread filling and keep stacking|
|emergency- ran out of pastry cream!|
My favourite way to eat this is layer by layer. Reeaaaaaal slow, even for my standards and trust me, I can take an hour and a half to finish a slice of cake. I usually eat at the rate a tortoise crawls, and I prefer it that way. How are you supposed to enjoy anything when you gobble your food down? One of my pet peeves is seeing someone take big bites of a cake/cookie/tart I offered and finish hours worth of work in a matter of seconds. I hold back my comments but I secretly fume on the inside. Oh and I hate it when people rush me when I'm eating. Can't a girl have her meal in peace? Seriously.
|i wasn't kidding when I said my cake was leaking|
Anyway, digressions aside, this cake is loads of fun to make. I would do it again, maybe with an Asian flair. And one more thing, this cake is best eaten the day its made because crepes have very little fat in them and long periods of refrigeration dries it out. The top few layers in particular. The bottom layers are mostly safe because the moisture from the pastry cream protects them but in doing so, the filling loses its velvety texture.
For the full recipe, please head over to the New York Times page. I'm way too lazy to type it out. Have fun!
Linked to Tuesday Talent Show, Crazy Sweet Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Sweet Treats Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday and Sweet Indulgences Sunday.