Monday, November 22, 2010

Adventures in Cooking: the Martha Stewart Crepe Cake

Four years ago, I saw this crepe cake in an issue of Martha Stewart Living (the cake issue.)
I thought, this is cool.  I like crepes.  I like chocolate.  I like hazelnuts.  Look how cool the top looks!  However, this recipe calls for 32 crepes.  And that is a lot of freaking crepes.

Yesterday, was Husband's birthday.  And I thought, this is a great time to make this awesome cake!

You can view the recipe on Martha's website.  But really, it's four recipes.  You can also view a video on the site.  I'll save you the time.  It's Martha and Fran Drescher (the Nanny).  Martha says it's a new cake and that they stole the idea from some bakery.  Fran talks about how she has always wanted to do this cake.  Martha repeats that it's new.  They make the crepe batter and make a crepe.  Martha's crepe doesn't take, which is common for the first crepe.  They say Fran's does, though it actually tears.  They talk about David Letterman and how he never hangs out with them, and you'll think it's because it's too busy playing around on his wife.  Then they candy the hazelnuts.  They skip making the filling, assembling the cake, and putting the ganache on.

So, if you were to make this cake, based on my experience, this is what I would do.

Ingredient note:  I could NOT find hazelnut creme, despite Martha's insistence that you could get it at Whole Foods.  I used Hazelnut creamer.  It made the filling a little runny.

Day 1

  1. Using the main recipe, make the crepe batter (steps 1 & 2).  You have to let it rest overnight, so if you thought you were just going to do this all in one day, you might as well give up now.
  2. Toast and peel the hazelnuts.  You'll need this for the candied hazelnuts recipe.  Martha doesn't tell you how to do this, nor could I find how to do this on her website.  Apparently, this is knowledge you should just be born with.  Thanks to the Google, I can tell you:
    1. Put the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet, and put them in the oven at 350 for 10 to 15 min, stirring occasionally
    2. Put the nuts in a clean kitchen towel, wrapping tightly for a minute
    3. Then rub the nuts together in the towel.  This will remove the skins
    4. You should probably immediately remove the towel from the kitchen so you don't try to use the towel five minutes later and spread hazelnut skins all over the kitchen like I did
Day 2
1 down.  31 to go
  1. Make the whipped cream for the filling recipe (step 1).  It has to be refrigerated for an hour.  
  2. Using the main recipe make the crepes (steps 3 - 4)! 
    1. Martha would like you to use butter on the pan.  I've made crepes several times and this has never worked for me.  I suggest using Pam butter flavor cooking spray.
    2. I kept the heat med-low.  Med was too high to even heat the pan with.
    3. I used a little less than 1/4 cup as a measure for the crepes.
    4. I am an excellent crepe flipper, and these crepes didn't flip.  I almost dislocated an arm trying to get it out of the pan.  I used a spoon to fold over the edge, then turned it over with my fingers.  Same to get it out of the pan.
    5. In the video, Martha recommends keeping a bowl of ice water nearby for kitchen accidents.  This was a good tip after I kept burning my fingers flipping the crepes and getting them out of the pan.
    6. You'll need 32 crepes according to Martha.  I ended up making about 30.  
    7. Martha says it takes 30 seconds per side.  It felt like a lot longer for me.  It probably took 2.5 hours to make the crepes.
    8. The first crepe is always bad.  But that's okay, because you can just eat it and 
    9. The crepes by themselves were AMAZING.  You may completely give up making the cake and just start eating them alone.  You'll be tired.  And you'll only be on like crepe 5 or something.  
    10. You can make this a three day project by just doing this on day 2.  You may need a rest at this point anyway.  
  3. Finish making the filling.  You need to use it immediately, so if you were planning on taking a nap or something, you'll have to wait.
  4. Stack the crepes (main recipe, step 4).  You really do want to stack it on a wire rack, and don't worry, I was able to get it back off.  
  5. While the crepes are in the fridge firming up, make the chocolate glaze
  6.  Put the glaze on the crepes (main recipe, step 5)
    1. Martha says, "Spread remaining glaze around sides of cake, coating completely."   Yeah. I just poured the glaze on the top and just moved it down the sides. 
      Glazed cake

       Afterwards, you may want to eat the remaining glaze that pools under the cake.
  7. While that's setting in the fridge, candy the hazelnuts for the top of the cake.  
    1. My husband helped with this, which was good since you have to work fast before the caramel gets hard.
    2. We actually did this the day before we served the cake, which I wouldn't recommend, as some of the sugar trails broke off.
    3. You shouldn't put these in the fridge, as they will melt.  
  8. When ready to serve, take it out of the fridge, pry it off of the wire rack, top with the hazelnuts and enjoy!
My final cake:

And what it looks like cut:

It tasted fine.  Our company raved about it, but this isn't a style of dessert I actually like.  I'm not a fan of creamy desserts.  I do like hazelnuts, but there wasn't much hazelnut flavor.  The cake was good, but I'm really exhausted now.  

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