Wasn’t sure about crêpe cakes. It seemed a lot of time for pretty basic layers and flavours. But actually this was fun, yummy and pretty relaxing to make, partly because I made the simple basic crêpes over two days. It took a little under an hour each time and I made the most of my stay in the kitchen by simultaneously making pineapple jam, lunch and washing up. I was inspired to make it during the incredibly windy rainy days in Barcelona last week caused by ‘Gloria the tornado’. During those miserably grey days it was lovely to potter in the kitchen creating a colourful edible rainbow. It’s a no-bake cake so perfect if you can’t or don’t want to use the oven. The actual layering is super quick and easy so all in all making a crêpe cake is faster than you’d think and easier to assemble than standard layer cakes. As usual it’s a slightly healthier dessert with one third greek yoghurt folded into to two-thirds whipped cream. It isn’t a very sweet cake and has mostly natural food colouring though I ran out of blue and ended up using a little artificial stuff. The cream is flavoured with pure vanilla extract and ground cardamom but these are optional. No it’s not a diet cake and was amazingly heavy to carry once made but it’s bright and fun so why not make a crêpe cake every now and then? Plus it is Pancake Day soon, a perfect excuse. It will appeal to cake-eaters of all ages who enjoy crêpes, cream, simple subtle flavours and pretty colours. Who could say no to a small slice or two of the rainbow? 🙂
It’s hard to be gloomy when you have rainbow cake in the fridge. I’m tempted to make another in the not too distant future… ! Here’s the recipe for you and me, so I can remember exactly how to make it next time…
THE RECIPE – for a 24 – 26 crêpes layer cake easily serving a large family possibly for days
This recipe was adapted from the Tasty recipe online which comes with a video that I didn’t watch but should be helpful. I added a little extra flour to the crêpe batter and made the cream more interesting with vanilla, ground cardamom, a little sugar and greek yoghurt. Next time I might try a half-yoghurt, half-cream ratio. The flavours are subtle, which I suspect is why mille crêpe cakes are so popular in East Asian countries. Adapt to your taste… some people commenting online have suggested adding thin layers of jam or nutella. But just a drizzle of pure maple syrup does the trick and uplifts it to well delish.
A proper pancake pan will make your life easier. Mine’s diameter was 22cm/8.5in. But you can of course use your usual pan for making crêpes of any size (adapting the quantities).
Crêpes (can be made 1 or 2 days in advance)
- 85g/6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 710g/ml (3 cups) full fat milk, warmed a little in a saucepan
- 360g/2 and 3/4 cups plus 6 tsp plain all-purpose flour (or 00 flour)
- 80g/7 tbsp caster sugar (I used golden unrefined)
- 340-345g/ml beaten egg (from 6 medium-large free-range eggs)
- 1/2 tsp or more pure vanilla extract, optional (I didn’t use any) or some other flavouring
- Natural food colourings (or artificial): essential colours are yellow, red, blue and yellow. Optional: green and violet. I used a combination of Italian natural powdered colouring, some liquid ones from a UK supermarket (quite weak colours) and an artificial Wiltons blue. A little turmeric can be used to strengthen the yellow colour and beetroot powder for the red.
- 800 ml/g liquid whipping cream (35%) – not heavy or thick
- 60-65g/1/4 cup + 1 to 2 tsp caster sugar, to taste
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, to taste
- 400g/14.1oz natural unsweetened greek yoghurt
Instead of dividing the batter into 6 bowls I used 1 or 2 medium-small bowls and added new colours to existing ones as I went along (see below for details). The advantages are: less washing up and you can use remaining batter for the next batch of crêpes. I ended up making 1 extra red and 1 extra violet crêpe, so 26 crêpes in total. It’s all very flexible.
- Prepare the melted butter and warmed milk.
- In a large bowl whisk the flour and sugar together.
- Stir in the egg with the whisk until combined.
- Gradually stir in some of the milk then some of the butter. Repeat until all used. The mixture should now be smooth.
- Pour about 1/6 of the mixture (it came to about 250 – 260g for me) in a medium-small bowl and use a whisk to stir in the yellow food colouring.
- Add a little milk if the batter is too thick.
- Make 4 yellow crêpes with this mixture: grease the pancake pan lightly with butter and put on low-medium heat until hot. Then add enough batter to swirl around the pan and cover to the edges. Cook a few minutes until there is some colour underneath. Flip and cook the other side. Keep a close watch so nothing burns.
- In the same bowl add another 250g batter from the big bowl (less if you still have yellow batter in the bowl) and colour with orange food colouring (or add a little red to the yellow). Repeat steps 6 and 7 to make 4 orange crêpes.
- Repeat step 8 with red colouring to make 4 red crêpes.
- Now you can continue making the remaining coloured crêpes on the same day OR put the batter (covered in airtight tupperware) in the fridge and continue the next day.
BREAK! I recommend it 🙂
- Repeat step 8 in a clean bowl with blue colouring to make 4 blue crêpes. The mixture will have thickened in the fridge (or even at room temperature) so whisk in a little milk if necessary to loosen again.
- Repeat step 8 with green colouring (adding green to the same bowl or a little yellow to the remaining blue) to 4 make green crêpes.
- In the large bowl with the final 1/6 of mixture add the violet colouring (or red mixed with blue) to make 4 violet or purple crêpes.
- Wait until all the crêpes are completely cool before making the filling and assembling the cake.
- Whisk the cold cream, sugar, vanilla and cardamom to soft stiff peak (doesn’t fall out of the bowl when turned upside down). Taste before it reaches soft stiff peak to see if additional flavouring is needed.
- With a rubber spatula gently fold in the greek yoghurt until combined. The cream should still hold well.
Place the first violet crêpe on your serving plate. Use a small metal spatula knife or back of a tablespoon to spread a little over 1/4 cup of cream filling more or less evenly over the crêpe. The cream layer doesn’t have to be thick (some parts will be a little thin). Repeat with all the following crêpes. I used this phrase we memorised at school to follow the colour order for rainbows: Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain (where R stands for red, O for orange, etc.).
So reverse order: Violet (omit the indigo), Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange then Red at the top of the cake.
No need to make perfectly even layers. Part of this cake’s charm is its colourful ‘artistic’ look with natural food colouring producing slightly subtler earthy tones rather than strong prime colours.
Eating and Storing
Place in the fridge 1 hour or more before cutting with a sharp knife and serving slices that cut surprisingly well. Important: serve with pure maple syrup or some kind of sauce. Because you wouldn’t usually eat crêpes with just cream and no syrup or sauce, would you? (Seriously, would you? I’d like to know). Your crêpe cake will be super delicious with this little addition. Yum! But sorry, there are no photos with syrup as every time it was poured on the plate I lost focus and just started eating!
Store in airtight tupperware in the fridge and eat within 4 days or so. You can also freeze slices on a tray individually until firm then place back in the freezer in airtight tupperware – eat within 2 weeks for best results or up to a few months. To eat defrost a few hours at room temperature or half a day in the fridge.
Somewhere over the rainbow
It’s been years since I posted a song with a recipe but here’s a sweet relaxing rainbow song for you during some sad times. Amongst the many worldwide troubles we’re experiencing China’s now facing such a difficult crisis with the coronavirus and it’s hard to really celebrate this Lunar New Year of the Rat. We can hope the strict measures, hard work and research will pay off.
Well, here’s a slice of rainbow crêpe cake for you. And if you ever feel like creating a lovely edible rainbow do please have a go at making this too. You’d imagine it would lead to a hair-pulling scenario but there’s something strangely therapeutic about making this charming yummy cake.
Farewell for now dears! Always nice to see you here. Hope your new year 2020 is going swishingly and healthily with plans for more happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x