Summer is coming. If you live in England like me, embrace all those few sunny warm days, for they only come so rarely and so hastily before the eternal gloomy clouds and rains return again. But when they are here, they definitely bring out a great summer vibe – time to break out the sunglasses and sip cold drinks in the sun. Time like this calls for a vibrant, fresh and light dessert such as a Matcha Mille Crepe Cake.
Matcha – Japanese green tea powder – is characterised by its beautiful and vibrant green colour, like the new green buds bursting open on all the tree branches comes spring time. The moment you open the matcha box, you can already smell the invigorating green tea scent; and the slight bitter taste of matcha brings a nice balance to rich and creamy desserts like cheesecake, or this recipe – mille cake.
Mille cake – for ‘mille’ means ‘a thousand’ in French – is essentially layers of crepes stacking together, with a thin layer of cream sandwiched between each crepe. As far as I know, the spread between the layers of matcha crepes served in most café is usually just sweetened whipped cream or topping cream. The cake still does taste good, however, I don’t like this beautiful summer celebration to be so one-dimensional. A more indulging, and certainly more French, version of crepe cakes uses pastry cream, therefore, I am going to combine custard cream with whipping cream today to make the most delightful filling ever.
It takes a bit of time to make all the crepes and assemble the cake, but other than that, the recipe is incredibly easy: simple ingredients, very few utensils needed, and plus, no oven! Even if you are completely unfamiliar with making crepes, it will take you only 1 or 2 crepes to master it. And trust me, learning how to make crepes is probably the easiest, yet most rewarding cooking lesson ever.
MATCHA (GREEN TEA) MILLE CREPE CAKE RECIPE
A. Matcha Crepe
- 3 medium eggs – 60 gr each including eggshell – room temperature. If the egg is too small, beat 1 egg and measure it, and slowly add more egg until you get the right amount.
- 470 ml (2 cups minus 2 tsp) unsweetened milk – room temperature
- 40 g (3 tbsp + 1 tsp) unsalted butter – melted and kept warm
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract – optional
- 170 g (1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 10 g (5 tsp) matcha powder. Use the ‘virgin’ unsweetened matcha powder – not the sweetened drinking matcha mix.
- 40 g (3 Tbsp minus 1 tsp) caster sugar
B. Cream Filling
- 3 egg yolks (18 – 20 gram/ yolk) – room temperature
- 75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
- 30 g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 300 ml (1-¼ cups) milk – warm
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract – optional
- 3 gelatine leaves (6 grams – or replaced with gelatine powder in equal amount)
- 50 ml (3 tbsp) cool water to soften gelatine
- 300 ml (1-¼ cups) whipping cream (30 – 40% fat) – cold
- 20 g (4 tsp) caster sugar
- Using unsalted butter will make the cake taste better. You can use salted butter or margarine, but the crepes may be slightly saltier due to additives in the margarine.
- Whipping cream can be substituted by topping cream (whipped top), but that also means you cake will be much less creamy, as topping cream is non-dairy. So, if you are not a fan of creamy dessert, you can consider topping cream, but if you are like me, nothing beats that bowl of fluffy and creamy clouds that is whipping cream.
A detailed recipe with all the specific notes is available on Savoury Days’ YouTube Channel (subscribe to get all the newly uploaded recipes) in both English and Vietnamese (select your preferred language by clicking CC > Setting > Language). You guys can check it out at this link or the video right below.
A. Matcha Crepes
1. Gently beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the milk (room temp) and mix well with the eggs. Add melted butter and vanilla extract and whisk. If the butter hardens because the milk or the eggs are too cool, boil water in a saucepan and then place the bowl with the egg mixture over the saucepan and whisk well. The butter will slowly melt with the heat of the steam from the pan.
2. Sift the flour, matcha powder and sugar into a bowl and stir well.
3. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture in small portions, and mix well until incorporated. Once finish, pour the batter through a sieve to get rid of any lumps. The batter should be quite runny. Cover the bowl and place it into the fridge for about 20 – 30 minutes.
4. Place the pan over low – medium heat. Melt the butter in the pan and use a clean paper towel to remove all the excess butter.
5. Pour about 3 tbsp (40 – 45 ml) of the batter into the pan. Swirl the pan several times so that the batter spreads evenly on the surface. Fry for about 1 – 1.5 minutes until the edge of the crepe turns dry and golden brown, and no longer sticks to the pan. Flip the crepe and fry for about 45 – 60 seconds until it is cooked. Transfer onto a rack and leave to cool.
- Once you take the batter out of the fridge, it should be thicker. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the thicker it becomes. If it is too thick, add a bit more milk so that your crepe batter can spread more easily on the pan. Thick crepes take longer to cook and are not as pleasant to devour.
- Pay attention to the heat. Too high – the crepe will burn easily, while too low – the crepe will develop a denser and chewier texture. I put the heat at 2/6 level on my electric stove. Once I pour the batter into the pan, there is a slight sizzle. The batter should stick to the pan right away, but at the same time there is still some runny batter on top that can spread easily.
- Always stir your batter a few times before adding it to the pan to make a new crepe.
- The above recipe yields 12 – 15 crepes. If you are new to making crepes and need some practice first, or want to make more layers, increase the recipe by a third (using 4 eggs).
7. Repeat until the batter is finished. Let the crepes cool down. Trim off the edges of the crepes by running a knife around the edge of an upside-down bowl so that all the crepes are even in size. The crepe cake later will be even in height, as the crepe edge tends to be thinner than the centre.
B. Custard Filling
To be prepared when you are waiting for the crepes to cool down
1. Place the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl, and beat until the yolks turn light yellow with a smooth and fluffy texture. Sift the flour into the bowl and mix well. Add warm milk gradually in small portions, mix well until incorporated before adding the next portion. Add vanilla, mix well. Run the mixture through a sieve and pour it into a saucepan.
2. On medium heat, stir the mixture constantly while cooking to prevent the eggs from getting scrambled. Once you get a thick and shiny mixture that is free from any raw flour taste, take the saucepan off the heat.
- If the mixture is too thick and still has a raw flour taste, the heat may be too high. To fix this, add a bit of milk, mix well and continue cooking on low heat until the custard is cooked.
3. Transfer the custard into a bowl. Whisk the custard for about 1 – 3 mins to help remove any lumps and make the custard smoother, as well as cool it down. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent any skin from forming. Place the bowl into the fridge for 30 – 40 minutes until completely cool.
4. Soak the gelatine leaves in cool water for 10 – 15 mins to let them soften. Microwave the gelatine for 20 – 30 seconds until it’s melted completely. Alternately, you can melt the gelatin by waterbath method. Note: mix well to dissolve the gelatine completely in water and prevent any small bits of gelatine sticking to the bottom or side of the bowl. Let cool.
5. Whip the cold whipping cream with 20 grams sugar on high speed. Slowly pour in the gelatine into the bowl. Note: the gelatine should be cool or else it will form lumps in the cream.
When the cream turns thicker (as seen in the video), lower the speed and whip cream until stiff peaks. Do not beat at high speed for a long time as the cream will get curdled easily.
6. Take the custard out of the fridge. Add the whipped cream into the custard in portions and fold well in between. The cream filling should be relatively thick and smooth. If the filling is a bit runny (due to low fat percentage in the whipping cream or your kitchen may be too hot), place the bowl into the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes longer.
C. Assemble the Cake
1. Place a crepe onto your cake board or serving plate. Line some papers under the crepe to keep the board clean while you decorate the cake.
2. Spread the filling onto the crepe, and then place another crepe on top. Repeat until the last crepe. I have 15 crepes and use about 2 – 3 tbsp filling between each layer.
3. Once finish, chill the cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours until the filling is set completely.
4. Just before serving, dust some matcha powder onto the cake surface to decorate. I use a cake stencil for this.
The cake can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Only dust the matcha powder just before serving to prevent the powder from absorbing the moisture and melt your beautiful design.
- Recipe & Photos: Linh Trang
- Written by: Phương Nguyễn
- Edited by: Thảo Đan