I like pretty things. Pretty clothes, pretty flowers, pretty leather bags, and pretty food. I’m a total sucker for visuals. If it looks good, I’m interested. I think this may be why I ended up liking cooking and baking so much. It’s incredibly rewarding to create something with your own hands that is pretty, smells delicious, and hopefully disappears before you remember to take a picture of it. Pretty food and tasty food don’t always go hand-in-hand, but that’s the goal, isn’t it? Something that appeals to each of the senses, something that you can remember with each sense.
I began experimenting with baking about six years ago and never looked back. There have been more than enough ‘whoopsie’ moments to last me a lifetime, but I get a high from the finished product that I have a hard time finding elsewhere. The risk of failure is not enough to keep from forging on and making all the pretty things. I do, however, appreciate a kind of recipe that will almost guarantee a success.
Crepe cake. These layers and layers of crepe, cream, and preserves are delicious, intricate, lovely, and shockingly easy. Our crepe cake this month uses the lovely Blood Orange and Rosemary Marmalade from Amour Spreads. I crave citrus flavors in these colder months, and I love incorporating them into my recipes. I mixed the marmalade with a touch of blood orange juice to make it more liquid and easier to spread between crepe layers and separated layers of marmalade with layers of mascarpone spiked blood orange curd. The cake was heavy on flavor and decadence and low on the stress scale.
If you can plan ahead, this can be assembled in minutes and each prep step can be done at various times days before the finished product. During dinner parties, I have a bit of dinner PTSD, meaning I don’t have it in me to get back into the kitchen and whip out another course. I’d rather serve something that has been made in advance, but will still dazzle. I don’t mind assembling this at a party (who wants to miss out on the ooh’s and ah’s?), but I like having each component already done. Fruit curds can spend at least a week in the fridge, and the crepes can be made a day or two in advance (more if you want to freeze them).
Want to know the best part about these cakes? They’re the most adaptable little things ever. Throw whatever you like between those layers. Pastry cream, sweetened mascarpone, fruit preserves, compotes, the list goes on and on. I highly recommend this combination of flavors though. Citrus and rosemary are really lovely together. Casee and John at Amour nailed it with this marmalade. See for yourself. Plus, it’s a really pretty marmalade, and we all know how I feel about that.
Blood Orange Crepe Cake
Makes about 25 crepes
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. Refrigerator for at least 1 hour (we want to get rid of all those pesky air bubbles). You can also easily chill overnight.
Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour 2 ounces of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a cooling rack or flat surface. Don’t fret over small tears or imperfections, the joy of multiple layers is that no one will even know! These will keep for at least 2 days in a sealed bag or wrapped in plastic film.
Blood Orange Curd (adapted from Alice Water’s lemon curd):
Makes about 2 cups
- 2 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Blood orange juice (use 2 fresh blood oranges when available)
- 6 tablespoons butter
Beat the eggs, egg yolks, water, sugar, and salt straight into your saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice and the butter. Place on medium-low heat and stir constantly, just until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle. When it’s thick, take it off the stove, strain through a fine mesh sieve, and place in a bowl or jar right away. Cover and refrigerate up to two weeks.
Whisk mascarpone into the curd, you may want to save a bit of the curd to use as a drizzle over the finished cake. Stir about 2 tablespoons of blood orange juice into the marmalade. Build your cake directly on the dish you’d like to serve the cake on. Begin with a crepe and spread about 2 tablespoons of curd/mascarpone over the entire crepe. Add another crepe and spread with marmalade. Continue layering and spreading until you’ve used 15-20 crepes. The higher it goes, the more difficult it will be to keep them from sliding around. I like to stop around 15. Serve immediately or chill for up to one hour.