Sunday, May 20, 2007

After a long hiatus

Wow, my first year in graduate school was quite a doozy. It really took all of my concentration to work part-time, go to school full-time and plan a wedding. Needless to say, things have been a little hectic for me and my schedule. But I did survive and actually did pretty well. Now I need to start focusing in earnest for the wedding which is scheduled for the beginning of June and there are a lot of things to deal with in the meantime.

So the blog has suffered a bit as I have had to give priority to other things. But for the summer, I'm looking forward to updating a bit and cooking a lot more.

Speaking of cooking, I wanted to write about a recipe that my friend and I tried this past summer for a crepe cake. My friend had tried one from Lady M Cake Boutique and found the recipe from the New York Times website. It initially seemed daunting but actually turned out to be pretty easy. Well, pretty easy as long as you have someone willing to make 50 crepes for you.

For the pastry cream, I used some of the vanilla that I brought back from Tahiti, which has such a lovely flavor. Afterwards, I dried the beans and put them in a small jar with some sugar to make vanilla sugar.

Here's the recipe:
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. 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.

4. Assembling the cake: Bring the batter to room temperature. Pour a splash of water into the batter to loosen it up. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the butter, 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.

You want 20 perfect crepes.

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. 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. Slice like a cake.

The cake turned out beautifully. My friend's boyfriend was able to make 25 perfectly round crepes for us and everyone was able to enjoy the meal.


Post a Comment

<< Home