Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Survive Turning 30 - Crepe Cake

having just celebrated my 30th (gasp) birthday, i have several tips on how to survive a milestone birthday while maintaining some grace and dignity.

step 1:
wake up and check for gray hairs.
step 2:
breathe a sigh of relief and pray you take after your father who only started to gray in his 50's, not your mother who found several gray hairs on her 30th birthday.

step 3:
drink a big cup of coffee in your favorite robe and slippers and have dessert for breakfast. calories don't count on your birthday, right?
step 4:
realize one of the bad things about being a grown-up is actually having to work on your birthday.

step 5:
smile from ear to ear when you hear a knock on the door in the middle of cooking for a client and find a package on your doorstep. scream out loud when you realize it's caramel rice pudding from rice to riches in new york city sent to you from your favorite college girls.
step 6:
carefully unpack tear open the rice pudding and take a big bite. you have to make sure it tastes ok, right? wonder why they included 4 spoons with your ridiculously large container. i only need one. what in the world are the other 3 spoons for??
step 7:
when you finish work and are heading home, resign yourself to the fact that you will be making your own birthday cake.

step 8:
decide to have a little fun with it by making a 30 theme dessert you have never attempted before - a 30 layer crepe cake with chocolate orange pastry cream.

30 Layer Crepe Cake with Chocolate-Orange Pastry Cream
(serves 8-10)

Sweet Crepes:
(makes 28-32 crepes)
adapted from Alton Brown 

5 large eggs
scant 2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups water
2 1/2 cups flour
8 tbs melted butter
4 tbs agave nectar
2 tbs vanilla extract
1-2 tbs butter for crepe pan

combine all ingredients (except butter for pan) in a blender and pulse on medium speed 5 times.
scrape down sides well and pulse 5 more times. refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 48.

heat a medium non-stick pan or crepe pan over medium-low heat. add 1/2 tbs butter and let melt and cover whole pan.
add about 1/4 cup crepe batter to the hot pan and immediately rotate the pan around making sure a thin layer of batter covers the entire bottom of the pan.
cook for 1-2 minutes. crepe will bubble slightly and edges will start to brown a bit and pull away from the sides of the pan.

using a spatula, gently left edge of crepe, then using your hands, gently lift crepe up and flip over.
(note: some super talented crepe flippers (including my husband) can flip a crepe in the pan with just a flick of their wrist, very dramatic.
my wonderful french friends, the marels, attempted to show me this seemingly innate french talent while visiting them in la grange de bois, france, but alas, i never quite caught on. i have found that flipping with your hands is much easier. i use very clean dish gloves to protect my fingers from the hot crepe and it seems to give me a little better grip on the crepe when flipping too.)

cook crepe on second side for 30-45 seconds.
then slide crepe onto plate to let cool. repeat with remaining batter until you have 30 crepes. (keep in mind it usually takes a couple tries to get this method right. i almost always throw away the first 2-3 crepes before i "get the hang of it". in fact, this time, i ended up trashing 4 before i got the hang of it.) i set up 3 plates of crepes. 2 for cooling individual crepes, then a third for stacking the cooled crepes.
cooled, stacked crepes can be stored in a large plastic bag in the fridge for several days. they can also be frozen and thawed fully before peeling apart.

Chocolate-Orange Pastry Cream:
(makes 2 cups)
adapted from Joy of Baking

2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 tbs vanilla bean paste)
4 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tbs cocoa powder
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
scant 6 tbs cornstarch
3 tbs grand marnier liquor

in a medium stainless steel bowl, whisk together sugar and egg yolks. 
sift together cornstarch and flour and add to sugar/egg mixture. whisk until well combined and smooth. 
meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, add vanilla bean to milk and bring to a boil - milk will foam when done, so watch carefully. 
whisk in chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. 
remove from heat and slowly add to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
pour mixture into saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. 
whisk constantly for 30-60 seconds until mixture becomes very thick and hard to stir. 
remove from heat and immediately whisk in liquor. 
pour into clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap making sure wrap is touching surface to prevent a crust from forming. cool completely. (can be refrigerated up to 3 days.)
whisk well before using to smooth out any lumps that have formed.
cake assembly:
place one crepe on cake stand or platter. 
spread enough pastry cream over crepe to form a thin layer over entire crepe, edge to edge. 
layer another crepe on top, making sure edges line up. 
spread pastry cream over entire crepe and continue process until all 30 crepes have been used. finish with a crepe on top. 
let chill in fridge for at least an hour to set.
slice into wedges and enjoy!

step 9:
reward yourself on a job well done with a glass of prosecco . . . and cake!
step 10:
have another glass of prosecco when your wonderful husband gets home from work travel. thank him for not leaving you alone on your birthday (like last year:)
step 11:
have dinner with friends at a new place you've never been - the wine market in baltimore.
step 12:
upon arriving home, eat several more bites of caramel rice pudding. give yourself extra points for being willing to share.
step 13:
when all else fails and you need to really feel young and alive, jump out of an airplane.
step 14:
thank god you're alive!
step 15:
have more prosecco and decide this 30 thing may not be so bad after all :)


  1. That's one tall cake! But I hate to tell you how tall my cake would be... yikes. GREG

  2. HB! I can see this made with Nutella also. And kudos for jumping from a plane: wow!

  3. I've always wanted to try making a crepe cake. Great tutorial. I'm voting for you.

  4. dang, that is one intense crepe cake. great job on the photos. i can't believe you jumped out of a plane! that's a bit too exciting for me. happy birthday and good luck!

  5. P- I laughed out loud when you thanked E for not leaving you alone (like last year). Hilarious :)
    Crepe cake looks amazing!

  6. Welcome to the wonderful world of the 30-something!
    Glad you finally made the "plunge". Keep up the good work on the's my favorite!

  7. That Crepe Cake looks amazing! Your photos were so great anyone could follow those instructions perfectly!! But the skydiving Wow babe, go girl. You are awesome! I voted, again for you!

  8. Happy 30th!!! What a wonderful post and a wonderful cake!! I love it!

  9. FABULOUS job !! this is awesome work - and it looks delicious!

    I just voted for you... and I hope I can continue to ;)

    Happy Birthday!!

  10. Congrats on turning 30 and on an amazing post! :)

  11. Making a crepe cake sounds like something I would do on my birthday too :)Here's my vote.

  12. 30 never looked so good! what a gorgeous cake!

    Whit@ Amuse Bouche

  13. What a great idea! Looks delicious. -chris (

  14. I've been wanting to make a crepe cake and you made it look so easy. Can't wait to try it. I also love that you went skydiving. I went once and have been wanting to go back ever since. Great post and you got my vote. Good luck and happy 30th!

  15. This is such a fun post! Any thing with the words "orange" and "cake" has to be nothing short of amazing. You've got my vote :-)

  16. Just found your blog on Foodbuzz and saw you recently turned 30. Happy belated birthday!

    I'll be turning 30 on Nov. 2 and looking forward to it, oddly enough. Then again I'll be a newlywed (for all of 18 days!) so that's probably why. I ask for only one thing on my 30th: Cheesecake. Yum. Haha.

    Thanks for sharing a delish looking recipe. Don't think I am brave enough to try it but it still looks great. =)

  17. The cake looks great, you look gorgeous, and it seems like you had an all-around amazing time!

    You: 1, 30: 0.

  18. Excellent post - you got my vote for this! Good luck :) Feel free to hop over to leave a comment :)

    Have a wonderful day!
    jen @

  19. 30 layers??? Well done!! Happy birthday =)

  20. I am astonished by the number of layers on this cake. My mom used to do symbolic candles (one for every x number of years), so I never got the 1:1 candle to year ratio that is so desirable. Good luck this week, voting for you!

    Lick My Spoon

  21. Happy Birthday! What a way to make a birthday memorable! We love making crepes in our house but we've never done this before - it looks like something we couod manage, but witha bit more uneven-ness and oozing filling than your masterful creation. Well done! Voted!

  22. I like it!! I just turned 30 too, which required a lot of champagne :)

  23. I really enjoyed the humor in your post! So funny. Happy 30th :) You have a vote from me!

    My own post is a romp through croissant making that's filled with humor, exhaustion, and a little bit of popstar glamor. Come see if you'd like :)

  24. Happy Belated Birthday. Your cake looks awesome, good luck!


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