Houjicha Mille Crepe Cake

I forgot why but there was one day during Capstone week before the start of Year 4, when a bunch of us were joking about Houjicha desserts. Houjicha cream puffs, houjicha cake, houjicha cookies, houjicha cookie shots, houjicha macarons, houjicha stuffed cookies, houjicha swiss roll. Just so happened as well, a good friend and fellow baker brought back houjicha powder from Japan!

The method is my tried-and-tested crepe cake recipe. Many describe crepe cakes as difficult and time consuming to make. I agree with the technical challenges (the technique needs to be exquisite to get it to the Lady M level), but time wise, it’s really not so bad! Just putting on youtube videos and flipping crepes one by one was super therapeutic. Make the crepe filling the night before (or at least the custard), then the day of make the crepe batter and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to mature. Meanwhile, whip the cream and complete the filling and place back in the fridge… while you choose which youtube video to watch. (I’m not even judging if you put on a video related to school for ‘passive learning’).

What changed with this mille crepe though was experimenting with the assembly method, and unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of the results. I always wondered how Lady M makes the layers so even. I still cut out each crepe layer with my adjustable ringpan (around 8 inch) to even sizes, but this time instead of stacking free style, I stacked them within my ring pan. Originally I envisioned placing the whole thing in the fridge, then lifting it up to reveal a neat crepe cake. I also wanted to improve the cream:crepe ratio from my previous crepe cake (Matcha Lady M Inspired Mille Crepe) and hoped that this method will allow me to create thicker cream layers without it spilling it over the sides in the Singapore weather.

Unfortunately it was quite difficult to spread the cream evenly between the layers – hence the uneven squiggly layers of crepe. I guess having the ring pan to stabilize it prevents me from using a turn table to create even layers if I were doing it freeform.

It’s okay! Will continue to explore techniques for the perfect crepe cake aesthetic. For now, recipe below!

Houjicha Mille Crepe Cake
makes 30 7-inch crepe layers, or 1 cake

Basic Sweet Crepes adapted from Yummy

1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
4 large eggs
2 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon houjicha powder
5 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for brushing pan

Houjicha Pastry Cream adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tablespoons houjicha
6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons cornstarch

To make Houjicha crepes:

Combine all liquid ingredients in a blender. Add dry ingredients and melted butter; mix on high. Strain batter. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a nonstick 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brush bottom and sides of pan with melted butter. Ladle 1 ice-cream scoopful of batter into skillet and swirl to coat bottom evenly. Cook until bottom is lightly browned, about a minute. Using a spatula or your fingers, flip crepe and cook until other side is lightly browned, about 20 to 30 seconds.

Transfer crepe to a platter. Layer crepes on top of each other. Don’t worry if crepes are crispy at first, they will soften after letting them sit.

To make Houjicha pastry cream:

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium until mixture comes to a simmer. Add matcha; whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup hot-milk mixture into egg-yolk mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a boil. Let boil, still whisking, 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add butter and stir until butter melts and mixture cools, about 5 minutes.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface of pastry cream to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Just before using, stir pastry cream with a flexible spatula until smooth. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks and fold into pastry cream.

To assemble:

Cut out cake circles if you want to neaten the edges. Lay first crepe on the serving plate and spread with 1/4 cup pastry cream. Repeat with all the crepes until you place the last crepe. Use a ring if you wish to

Chill the cake in fridge and serve


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