A few weeks ago we introduced more friends to one of our DIY crepe mornings. Like I’ve said before, hosting a crepe party for a large crowd is so incredibly easy, especially when you have a couple (or, as in my family’s case, five) of these CucinaPro crepe makers laying around (by the way, I don’t get paid by CucinaPro to tout my love for their crepe maker — I just legitimately love this gadget that much). Anyway, I ended up making ten batches of crepe batter for all of our hungry guests. Ten batches of crepe batter, in case you’re keeping track, translates to 20 eggs, 7 1/2 cups of milk, 5 cups of water, 10 cups of flour and nearly 4 sticks of butter. I just want to throw those numbers out there just so you know what kind of operation we’re running over here on the weekends. I like large-scale feeding.
After our crepe brunching was over, I had a good bit of leftover batter. I’ve always wanted to make a cake out of layered crepes. I saw one once on Martha Stewart with layers of creamy lemon mascarpone that made me want to reach into the computer screen and eat it immediately, but usually after our crepe brunches I’m so spent that I can’t imagine making the necessary 20-25 additional crepes to fashion a cake out of them. Plus, we usually have so little crepe batter leftover. This time, though, I made sure we’d have enough so that I could build a nice little blueberry ricotta crepe cake for us to enjoy during the week.
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Making a crepe cake is almost as easy as making the crepes themselves. Even though there are lots more layers to deal with than a regular cake (25, to be exact), cake layers are much more temperamental. I’ve never fancied myself a baker, and every time I try to make a layer cake with nice, neat layers, things go south really quickly. I’m too ham-fisted with my icing spatula, and pretty soon there are cake crumbs getting rolled into my icing layer. I’ve never iced anything perfectly smooth. My layers slide all over the place and I always end up with a lopsided creation. My icing is heavy, too, so my cakes weigh more than a poodle. When it comes to cakes, I just can’t. I try, but I can’t.
I chose to make Hubert Keller’s blueberry ricotta crepe cake mainly because we had in-season blueberries and a bunch of fresh ricotta leftover from our crepe brunch. I figured that both ricotta and blueberries, when cooked into a compote, were sturdy enough so that I wouldn’t have any of the same nonsense that I typically encounter when it comes to cake layers sliding around and such. Plus, I love ricotta-based desserts. Love, love, love them.
As it turns out, I wasn’t wild about Hubert Keller’s blueberry compote. I knew I wouldn’t from the second I read it, mainly because the recipe calls for corn starch to thicken the compote. Corn starch isn’t my favorite way to thicken sauces, mainly because without careful measuring and monitoring, it’s easy to overdo corn starch to the point of gloop. No one likes gloop.
I realized quickly though, that even though my druthers aren’t to use a corn starch-thickened blueberry compote to hold my crepe cake together, you still need a pretty thick sauce to hold the crepe cake together. Unlike a regular layer cake, which has just a few thick layers that don’t really move, a crepe cake has to sandwich together multiple layers that don’t fall apart once you slice into it. The fillings have to be both flavorful and bind everything together. Hence, whatever filling you use can’t be runny. The crepes will slide all over the place, the filling will become mushy together with the crepes, and civilizations will fall. It would not be a good scene.
Filling warnings aside, this blueberry ricotta crepe cake recipe makes a really solid summer dessert. The blueberries, cooked down, still burst with juices that mix with a heavenly swirl of ricotta mixed with lemon zest and cream cheese. It’s a great end to a heavier meal, too, providing just the right hint of sweetness without too much of it. Assembling the cake takes almost no time once the crepes are made — just slather on ricotta and blueberries in alternating layers until you’ve built up a cake.
After our crepe brunch ended, several of our friends told me that they, too, ordered crepe makers. One friend ordered five, one for each household in her extended family. I hope CucinaPro notices the uptick in sales and calls me. I’d love to be a crepe ambassador. Just having a satin sash and crown with those words etched across it would be payment enough.
- For the crepe batter:
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups milk
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups flour
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- For the ricotta filling:
- 1 1⁄2 cups ricotta cheese, drained
- 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- For the blueberry sauce:
- 2 cups blueberries
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
- fresh mint, thinly sliced
- Butter, for coating the crepe pan
- Assemble the ingredients for the crepe batter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 10 seconds, then pour into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for approximately one hour.
- While the crepe batter is chilling, make the ricotta filling. Mix all of the ricotta filling ingredients together in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, water, sugar, lemon juice and butter over medium heat. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes until the mixture is mostly liquid.
- Lower heat to medium-low and add cornstarch mixed with water. Stir constantly, watching to see when the blueberry mixture starts to thicken. Turn off heat but do not remove the saucepan from the burner. Continue stirring until the sauce is thick but not gloop. If it seems to thick, thin with water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Make crepes until you have about 20-25 crepes.
- Starting with one crepe, spread one thin layer of ricotta filling. Top with a second crepe and spread the blueberry filling on top. Repeat until all of the crepes have been used, alternating blueberry and ricotta mixtures.
- Top with fresh blueberries and sliced mint. Refrigerate until serving.