join me for a late and sort of half-hearted celebration of national chocolate cake day. in my morning facebook feed, i spied a martha stewart post with a link to a recipe for boston cream cupcakes. i’m not really a cupcake girl so i set about adapting it into a gluten free cake recipe.
i think this cake pretty much speaks for itself, but back when my diet was pretty much wheat-based, the “lady m cake” was one of my favorites. for this gluten free version, i built it with vanilla crepes made with Cup4Cup flour and filled it with chocolate pastry cream using cornstarch instead of wheat flour as the thickening agent in the pastry cream. take a look at the construction process, below.
Here’s the recipe. I forgot to do both weight and volume measurements, apologies.
Chocolate Mille Crêpes Cake
(Makes one eight inch cake)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Cup4Cup gluten-free flour blend
½ cup sugar
Chocolate pastry cream:
2 cups half & half
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted (after measuring)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Vegetable oil or butter to prepare the crêpes
Day 1: Prepare crêpe batter and pastry cream the day before you plan to assemble the cake.
Crêpe batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown. Set aside.
In a small heavy pot, heat the milk until it starts steaming. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.
In a heavy-duty mixer, combine the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt and beat on medium-low speed just until blended.
With mixer on lowest speed, slowly add the warm milk and browned butter. Then beat on medium-high until smooth and well-blended.
Pour the crêpe batter into a container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pastry cream: [If using a vanilla bean, split it open with a sharp knife, scrape out the seeds with the knife’s dull edge, and reserve bean and seeds.] In a small heavy pot, bring half & half and vanilla paste [or bean and seeds] to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate pieces and stir until chocolate has melted completely. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. [Remove and discard vanilla bean.]
Fill a large bowl (or the kitchen sink) with an ice bath and set aside.
In a medium-sized pot, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cocoa and cornstarch together until well-blended. Gradually whisk in the warm chocolate half & half. Place the pan over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cream coats the back of the spoon.
Set the pot on the ice bath and stir until the cream is just warm enough to melt butter. Stir in the butter until melted and thoroughly incorporated. You should have a shiny, custardy mixture. Cool, cover and refrigerate the pastry cream overnight.
Day 2: Bring the crêpe batter and pastry cream to room temperature.
Line a large plate or baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place an 8-9-inch crêpe pan over medium heat. Coat the surface of the pan with the butter/oil, then add about ¼ cup of batter (I use a ladle) 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 crêpe. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5-10 seconds. Carefully stack the crêpes onto the paper-lined plate or baking sheet.
Repeat, adding more oil/butter each time, until you have 20-30 perfect crêpes. Set the best-looking crêpe aside for the top of the cake.
In a heavy-duty mixer, whip the heavy cream with 2 tablespoons sugar into soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream until completely incorporated.
To assemble the cake, place a crêpe on a serving plate. With an offset spatula, completely cover the crêpe with a thin layer (a few tablespoons) of pastry cream. Alternate layers of cream and crêpes until you have a tower of 20-30 crêpes, ending with the best-looking crêpe on top. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours but not more than 24 hours.
Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving. If you’re feeling wild and have access to a kitchen torch, sprinkle the top of the cake with a layer of superfine granulated sugar and caramelize the sugar with the torch.