Monday 29 August 2011

Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake

This cake hurt me.

I've been working as a one-to-one tutor for the past week, teaching comprehension and creative writing for English school entrance exams for nearly six hours a day. I find it very tiring.

Caramel probably wasn't the best choice of things to make when I could hardly keep my eyes open. I couldn't help it. I had hazy memories of the utter pleasure of the sour cream fleur de sel caramel sauce from this layer cake that couldn't be resisted any longer.

Everything was fine until the sugar turned at an unusual speed, causing the caramel-covered spatula to be flung out of the pan as I grabbed the whisk to beat in the hot cream. Without looking, I reached out for the bowl of sour cream. My middle finger found the caramel-covered spatula instead.

Once the sour cream had been whisked in (the priority!), I spent about an hour attached to the cold tap. I then taught with my finger in a glass of iced water. I took a ziplock bag full of iced water on our dog walk to keep it cool before settling down on the sofa with another water glass. Every now and then I would decide to see how long I could go without a cooling device. I never lasted long - it's amazing how much those blisters can sting. Late that night I tried again and to my surprise they didn't start hurting and haven't since.

I decided to use my old favourite crêpe recipe, swapping out the wholemeal flour but keeping the brown butter. I doubled the recipe and made crêpes for a long time. It felt like I was standing over the hob for hours. I don't normally get annoyed with repetitive tasks. This time I did.

Finally I had stacks of lacy crêpes (I like them with loopy edges, not neat ones), a jar of nearly-burnt-but-not-quite caramel sour cream sauce,a bowl of whipped cream and a tub of raspberries. Turns out I didn't have enough whipped cream. It still tasted great, but it would have been better with thicker layers of filling (I've added more to the ingredients below). I'm glad the caramel cooked further than usual as it really worked in this context.

The flavours mean that the cake isn't too sweet - it's smoky, creamy and slightly sour. The burns were worth it.


Also, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who popped over from my last post to like my new facebook page - you're all awesome.

Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake
(inspired by Amanda Hesser via Smitten Kitchen, caramel recipe adapted from Baked NYC)

For the dusky caramel:
112g granulated sugar
1 tbsp glucose/golden syrup
70 ml water
140ml double cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
70ml sour cream

For the crêpes:
50g unsalted butter
220g plain flour
pinch of salt
4 eggs
400ml milk
100ml water

To assemble:
300ml double cream
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
raspberries, to top

To start the caramel, put the sugar, glucose/golden syrup and water together in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar as you bring it to the boil over a high heat. Meanwhile, heat the cream and salt in a small saucepan until the salt is dissolved and the cream has reached a boil, then remove and set aside. Keep going with the sugar until it reaches a deep golden brown.

At this point, remove from the heat and let sit for a minute before whisking in the hot cream. Let the foam subside, then whisk in the sour cream. Leave to cool then store in a jar in the fridge until using - it firms up after a few hours.

When you're ready to start making the crepes, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Keep heating as it foams up - take off the heat when it smells delicious, the foam has subsided and there are brown flecks floating in the golden liquid. Put aside to cool.

Sift the flour and salt into a big mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack an egg into it. Whisk in, slowly incorporating the flour around the well. Repeat for the other three eggs. Start adding the milk slowly, whisking well between each addition. Finally whisk in 50ml of the water, followed by the brown butter.

Heat up a medium sized frying pan with a solid bottom over a high heat. When it gets really hot, turn it down to medium-high and grease with a small knob of butter. Use a ladle to pour a small amount of mixture into the pan and swirl it so you have a thin layer. Wait until it starts to brown around the edges and flip. Check the consistency of the mixture from this test crepe and add more water if needed.

Repeat with the rest of the mixture, placing each done crepe onto a wire rack to cool before stacking them. You should get around 20-24 crepes.

To make the creamy filling, whip the cream and sour cream together until soft peaks. Briefly whip in the icing sugar and vanilla. Reserve a pretty crepe for the top. Place one crepe on your serving plate then smear with a teaspoon of caramel, followed by a heaped tablespoon of the cream. Place another crepe on top and repeat the process until you have used all your crepes and cream. Spread the last pretty crepe with the last of the caramel. Top with the raspberries, dust with icing sugar and serve.

(Serves 12-14)


  1. okay i am flying over right now!!

  2. I have always wanted to make crepe cakes but its so intimidating. You have done a fabulous job but your burned finger - so sorry for that

  3. Oh ouch I totally feel your pain Emma I have many caramel scars myself :( But I hope you're feeling better. On the other hand, your crepe cake is just out of this world!

  4. Effie - aw thank you!

    Courtney - hehe, I hope it's worth the plane fare! Maybe better to make it at home and share with your family :)

    Kulsum - It's really not too difficult - just repetitive to make the crepes. I didn't have any structural problems or anything. Give it a whirl! And you're so sweet for saying that about my finger.

    Karen - I always forget quite how hot it is! So tasty though, I could never give it up.

  5. Oh My! I love pancake layered cake! I don't think this one serves 12-14 people! ;) Maybe 2-4... :)

    Wonderful photos, Emma! :)

  6. Ouuuch I absolutely hate getting blisters from hot caramel. It really does hurt like crazy! But that is one gorgeous cake, I've been wanting to try making a crepe cake for the longest time but only recently bought a good enough pan to do them in. You've inspired me to try it sooner rather than later!

  7. Zita - Hehe yes maybe I was being a little strict with the portion size! Thank you Zita :)

    Stephcookie - I felt like such a wimp! The worst one was right underneath by nail on the little soft bit :( But yes, do try! They're great fun.

  8. I landed on this page and said 'WOW!' - the cake looks amazing! Sorry you got hurt making it though!

  9. Hot sugar and fingers do not mix well (keep that poor thing wrapped up, Emma). On the other hand, caramel and crepes - Oh my. My family may have to have a taste of this one.

  10. Anh - so glad you like it :)

    kerrycooks - hehe this cake does seem to provoke capitalized reactions - I got two DELICIOUS too!

    ladybellringerm - So I have learnt! I'd been really lucky before - not even a tiny spatter out of an awful lot of caramel - so I don't feel too hard done by. I hope your family enjoy it.

  11. Your crepe cake is absolutely gorgeous!!

    Sorry to hear it hurt you though :( I'm surprised I haven't had a caramel injury yet considering how accident prone I am.

  12. It may have hurt you, but it's absolutely beautiful!

  13. Ouch indeed! Caramel scalding is so not good. Hope all that cold water helped :-) Beautiful cake!!

  14. Jennifer (Delicieux) - aw, thank you! Try to avoid - it was nastier than I'd imagined actually :(

    Andrea {From the Bookshelf} - heh well it was worth it!

    Sneh | Cook Republic - the cold water was sweet, sweet relief. It's amazing how it totally makes the pain go away.

  15. One word, Awesome! Crepe cakes, that's a pretty good idea... and your picture makes it look positively wicked. I can't imagine how it would taste though... only one way to find out! Hope your finger is better.

  16. this is one of the most beautiful and delicate cakes I have ever seen. I love using fresh raspberries to decorate cakes and tarts, they are so pretty!

    P.S. poor finger, I know what you mean, I've been there..

  17. The pain might have been worth it my friend, look at this beautiful masterpiece! Crepes are not easy to make, and then there's candying....(sp)? I think I need to take one of your classes BTW!

  18. Lovely crepes Emma- I love that they are curled on the edges too! I recently made my own pancakes and the worse part was cooking them one after the other for what seemed like forever!

  19. Looks amazing! The layers are really pretty and I can just imagine how wonderful crepes and caramel are.

  20. Karen Xavier - I couldn't figure out how it would taste either - so I had to try! I think this is the first time I've ever eaten a cold crepe - we usually eat them as they come out of the pan so they're piping hot. Glad you like it and the pictures :)

    Juls - Aw thank you! I like the lacy edges, they're very pretty. Raspberries are amazing, I'm very sad they're going out of season.

    Elle Audrey Marie - I don't know what verb you use actually. Caramel-making? Caramelizing? Glad you like it!

    Sips and Spoonfuls - Funny how it doesn't seem to take forever usually when I'm eating at least some of the ones I'm making immediately! Think it's partly because you don't have to do as much - not like whisking for ages or watching caramel.

    Sarah, Maison Cupcake - Thanks Sarah :) It's definitely an exciting cake to cut into with all the layers.

  21. That first photo, wow! I can't wait to make a crepe cake and this one is ridiculous!

  22. Emma, this cake leaves me speechless. Ok. Now I have gathered my thoughts and must say... This is a perfect thing of beauty - from the name, to the photos, to (what I can only imagine of) the taste! Wow!!!

  23. Your cake is breathtaking. Just beautiful. I'm so happy to have found your blog today if only to get a glimpse at this cake!

    Meanwhile, ooooh burns are never good. I gave myself a steam burn over the winter that covered the backs of 3 fingers. As you said, at first it's always a challenge to see how long you can go without ice or cold water!

  24. Elissa - I had been wanting to make one for ages too - do go and try it! Thanks for your kind comment, I've been a fan of your blog for years :)

    yummy supper - oh Erin thank you! You're so sweet.

    MrsJenB - I'm glad you found it too :) Steam burns are horrible, you poor thing. It's amazing the relief the water/ice gives.

  25. The photos in this post should be in a magazine.

  26. Jolene - thank you! Oddly, these were ones I was really stressed about and found very difficult to take.

  27. Oh. My. Word. Thank you for making my dreams a reality.

  28. Looks like a brilliant idea for a rather big breakfast. Better get started now!

  29. You are my hero! I am rubbish at crepes and this looks so amazing and so hard to make. Beautiful cake :-)

  30. I have made crepes many time with very good results. I also make chocolate candy bark again with good results. I have got to try this crepe cake for Easter dinner. Thank you for sharing!

  31. This is amazing have to share this on my blog! Yum!!!


  32. You've gotta get a pinterest link on your site! Your pics are great!

  33. I made the n00b mistake of tasting my caramel last week... first time making it, and I burnt my lip, tongue, and gums. I understand how you feel.

    But this cake is one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a while.

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  35. Okay, I fell in love with recipe when you posted it, and wanted to make it immediately, but, of course, couldn't. Well, I made it on Sunday and it was glorious!!!! Time consuming, but worth it. Only thing I would do differently would be to make the crepes the day I made the cake, as refrigerating the crepes resulted in slightly soggy edges that drooped instead of holding up. Even so, this was beautiful, delicious and well-received.

    1. I'm so pleased you liked it! Good point about the crepes, they can get a bit soggy over time. It might be possible to re-crisp them a bit by popping them back in the pan, but that's probably nearly the same amount of effort as making them with this many.

  36. My Grandma used to make layer cakes, but the caramel sauce was new to me. Have to try it, thank you!

  37. This cake looks and sounds delicious. Caramel and raspberries are two of my favorite flavors - never tried them together. Too bad about the burn - I just burned my finger while baking & a friend told me to put toothpaste on it right away. I did & the burning was gone almost instantly! Give it a try next time.

  38. This is beautiful! and it sounds delicious too!

  39. I wish my crepes woul look like this, so i could make this incredible beautiful cake!

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