Strawberry Gâteau de Crêpes

>> Sunday, July 28, 2013


It all started with a “I’m not in a mood for the usual cakes” type of gchat conversation with my sister whose taste buds have changed drastically ever since she started eating for two. 
“But make me something different, I'm craving for something sweet”.

Being at work, I tried to recall what I have in the pantry and fridge at home. Have they invented a refrigerator with scanners attached telling me what I have in stock at the touch of my mobile app? Mental note to self - if not, must look into it when I get home and patent the idea asap.

When I did get home, I acknowledged that ideas I come up with at work are sometimes not the best and I also decided to make a crepe cake. That was the better of the two.

This strawberry crepe cake is something that can be made with your usual kitchen staples...and some strawberries of course. I found out that in Australia, strawberries are in season today and everyday as they are farmed around the country in different climatic regions. How lucky we are living here!

This cake reminds of my childhood. When I was a young girl, I was never into cakes or desserts. Until one day, I walked past a fancy cafe in a department store in Taiwan and my eyes caught sight of a very similar strawberry crepe cake - it was the most beautiful cake I'd ever seen. I could not even begin to count how many even layers of golden soft crepes were sandwiching the ruby red strawberries sliced with such precision and the oozing pale cream. And so I just stood there, eating with my eyes until my mum whisked me away to run some errands.
I did go back to the same place a few years later. It certainly didn't taste as good as I had it in my head after all those time. But I can assure you that this one here, 20-something years later, definitely tastes like what it should have (although it does not look as good - the pastry cream did not have time to set in the fridge!)

These crepes are easy to make - you don't even need a crepe pan. I used my normal pan/wok and just measured the batter (1/3 cup) to make sure each layer is the same size.  The sweet, juicy and tart strawberries and the not-too-sweet pastry cream makes for the best paring. I made the crepe batter and the pastry cream the day before, making the assembling day a breeze!


Note: I cut the recipe below down completely by 2/3, resulting in around 10 crepes!

Strawberry Mille Crepes Cake (Gâteau de Crêpes)
Adapted from New York Times who adapted the batter from ”Joy of Cooking” and the pastry cream from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. 

For the crepe batter:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch salt 
  • 2 punnet sliced strawberries
For the vanilla pastry cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
For the assembly:
  • Corn oil
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or more
  • 3 tablespoons Kirsch
  • Confectioners' sugar
1. The day before, make the crepe batter and the pastry cream. Batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.  

2. Pastry cream: Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.

3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

4. Assemble the cake the next day: Bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crepes. (Since I cut down the recipe by 2/3, I somehow ended up with ~10 crepes).

5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more. Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar and the Kirsch. It won’t hold peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.

6. Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a very thin layer of pastry cream, then place the sliced strawberries on a thin layer to cover, and then cover with another layer of thin pastry cream. Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20 (in my case, 10), with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice like a cake.


Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

>> Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It was my birthday a few weeks ago. Along with the pre-birthday blues, gifts and well wishes from dear friends and family that this day usually brings, it also came with the reminder just how fast time flies - no wonder the mark a person's life span is usually that quick dash sign '-' between the year of birth and year of death. (What a way to start this post...!) 

Of the many goals I've set for myself at the awareness of this 'flying time', one of them was to pick up my camera again and write. I almost forgot how much I miss interacting and sharing with you on this space!

I confess, being busy wasn't really the only reason why I've been away for some time.

Throughout the past year, I have worked hard, played hard, traveled some, adjusted to changing circumstances, made new friends, mellowed and matured a little bit (hopefully). And in between all these activities, there's been a whole lot of sorrow and a whole lot of gladness. 

With each passing week and month, I became more convinced that I no longer know which buttons to press on my camera. I once visited this space, and could not quite find the voice or words to begin the next post. Strange, isn't it? But I still continued to bake.

Anyways, so I am back! One year older and still just as clumsy at times. You see, this chiffon cake is a bit of a shorty. I was in such hurry to take photos with the limited and setting winter sun over here that I couldn't wait until it has cooled down completely (remember to invert your pan!) so it might have been a bit flat! 

Chiffon cake is really all about the egg whites - if you whip it to the right consistency, you can be sure to have a pillowy soft result! Paired with one of my favourite ingredients, black sesame, I am ready to eat more cakes this winter!

Black Sesame Chiffon Cake

  •  4 large eggs
  • 100 g cake flour 
  • 40-50g ground black sesame powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar + 4 tablespoon for the egg whites.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
  • 1/2 cup full fat milk 

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the black sesame powder and whisk the dry ingredients well to make sure they are thoroughly combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale yellow add the vegetable oil slowly. Continue beating until the mixture turns slightly thick.

3. Pour the egg yolks into the well, mix gently and add the milk. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry until completely smooth.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. With the mixer running, slowly rain in the remaining 4 tablespoon sugar. Continue to beat the whites until stiff peaks form when the beater is lifted.

5. Fold the beaten whites into the rest of the batter by gently spoon one-third at the time. Fold in the white slowly and carefully using a spatula. Be very gentle as you fold in the whites so you not deflate them. Gently fold in the remaining third of the whites. Spoon or gently pour the batter into a 10-inch ungreased angel food cake pan.

6. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes at 160C (325F), and a toothpick inserted into the comes out clean.

7. Remove from heat and invert the pan over an inverted cup. Set the pan aside until cooled completely, 1 to 2 hours.


Long time no see & farewell Google Reader!

>> Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dear Google Reader,

It's going to be sad to see you go.

You've been a part of my morning routine for some time now, usually right after I turn on the laptop and at the same time as those scrambled egg rolls and cuppa hot teas.

And for those brief moments in the day, you would update me on all the latest posts with my favourite blogs always at the top. How considerate! 

We've definitely shared many moments together - laughing, learning, thinking, being challenged and being inspired!

So thank you for your service during those memorable years!


Dear Green Cilantro readers,

I miss you guys. And I promise I will be back very soon with updates :)

Thanks for being patient with me and thank YOU for those nice messages and emails sent my way during the time I've been away. I really do appreciate them...and you!

See you soon.


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