Monday, April 22, 2013

Green Tea Mille Crepes: Second Time's The Charm

The first time I tried to make Zen Can Cook's green tea crepe cake, I got the crepe version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  This time I decided to follow the recipe exactly instead of using a different pastry cream recipe.  It also reminded me why I didn't use Zen's recipe last time: there's six egg yolks in it.  I will be eating a bunch of egg white omeletes this week.

The pastry cream needs to be firm and solid enough to hold up the stack of crepes.  Zen's recipe has both egg yolks and cornstarch for thickening so it's got the consistency of very solid jam.  I stacked up all of the crepes that made it (twenty), and the tower didn't even lean.

Twenty crepes is too many for this cake.  It was too tall to eat easily and we ended up splitting the slices into the top and bottom half.

The pastry cream has a lovely orange flavor but I didn't think it went that well with the crepes.  The green tea turned the crepes green but I couldn't taste it at all.  The texture was nice so the next time I make these crepes, I'll probably double or triple the amount of matcha powder in the batter.  Zen also has a version that is chocolate crepes with the same orange pastry cream.  I think that this combination makes more sense than green tea with orange.

This cake would work nicely as a single serving, personal dessert.  I may try making half sized crepes for small cakes instead of one large one.

Tips: If you can't flip things using a spatula like I can't, you can fake it by using a plate.  Flip the pan upside down so the crepe lands on the plate, then pick it up by the edges with your hands and flip it back into the pan onto the other side.  The second side will have been mostly cooked so you don't need to worry about raw batter splattering onto the plate.

You can tell when a crepe is ready to flip by watching the edges.  Right as they start turning brown, flip the crepe.  The crepe won't stick to the pan when it's done cooking so if you can't get the spatula under it, wait another 20 to 30 seconds.

If you're using a non-stick pan, don't use very much butter when you heat up the pan and don't use any once you start making the crepes.  It seems counter-intuitive not to use butter or oil when frying something but the butter will burn because of how hot the pan needs to be.

When stacking the crepes up, I used a thin layer of pastry cream between each crepe.  I put a crepe on, smoothed on the pastry cream, and placed the next crepe on top.  It was a bit awkward at the end because the crepes lower down on the stack were getting pulled by the spreading motion.  It may be better to put the pastry cream on the crepes first, and then stack them.  It shouldn't be difficult if you're only using 10 to 12 crepes.

Because I had more practice, this time I got 20 good crepes and 3 smushed, messed-up crepes.

I didn't use the whipping cream to thin out the pastry cream.

When you put the hot pastry cream in the ice bath to cool while stirring it, do it in the sink instead of on the counter.  That way when you spill the icy water all over, it will stay in the sink.

Green Tea (Matcha) Mille Crepes
from Zen Can Cook

For the crepes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (or beer)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons matcha powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau or Grand-Marnier

For the pastry cream:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temp’
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1 tablespoon Grand-Marnier (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)

To make the crepes:
  • Combine all the ingredients by hand or in the bowl of a blender. Mix until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Place a 6-inch nonstick or seasoned crepe pan over medium heat. Using a paper towel, coat the pan with a little butter.
  • Pour about 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the pan. Lift, tilt and rotate the pan so that the batter forms an even, very thin layer. Cook until golden. Turn the crepe over and cook a little longer. Remove the crepe to a piece of wax paper. Continue cooking the rest of the crepes.
To make the orange pastry cream:
  • In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat.
  • Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Drizzle a quarter of the hot milk and whisk vigorously. Pour the rest of the milk and keep whisking. Return the custard to the pan and add the vanilla extract and orange zest. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil while whisking energetically for 1 or 2 minutes. The mixture will be thick. Stir in the Grand Marnier if using.
  • Set the bottom of the pot in a ice-water bath to cool, stirring frequently so that the mixture remains smooth. Cool to 140 F (warm to the touch) and stir in the butter and the orange zest until completely incorporated. Cool and refrigerate.
  • When ready to use, place the put the pastry cream in a food processor and process for 10 seconds for the best consistency. Fold in the whipped cream if using.
To assemble:
  • Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream. Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 15 to 20.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours. Serve cold. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch. Slice like a cake. Serve with candied orange zest.


Six eggs, separated.

You don't need the butter right away, so just leave it out on a plate with the orange zest to warm up while you deal with everything else.

Yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.
Hot pastry cream in the ice bath.  Do this part in the sink!

The pastry cream will be very thick as it cools down.
Don't use butter in the non-stick pan.
Crepe cooking in the pan.  The edges are turning brown on the right side so it's about time to flip the crepe.

Somebody decided that dealing with a hot pan was the perfect time to drag his cabbage around the kitchen.

Pastry cream after being refrigerated.  At this point it was completely solid.

After pulsing the pastry cream in the Cuisinart.  The dent in the upper right part is from a spoon.  It needs to be this thick when you start stacking the crepes.

Crepes cooled down and ready for stacking.

First crepe.

Finished stack.  The prettiest crepe went on top.

It looks cool from the side.

Slicing it up for easy access.

Single slice.  It's a bit too tall to eat easily.

I sliced it into eight pieces.

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