On French street corners and in restaurants, crepes are served in many different ways, both savory and sweet. The traditional very thin sweet pancake is called a crepe sucree. Crepes can be folded, rolled, or even laid flat on a large plate, and they can be filled or topped with innumerable flavorings and ingredients. But the most special use of the delicate and tender crepes sucrees I have come across is in a decadent, delightful, and irresistible dessert known as mille-crepe cake.
I discovered this cake at a charming confectionary salon, Lady M, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I was immediately transfixed by the texture and taste of the gently caramelized top and the creme patissiere, or pastry cream, between each of the about 20 crepes (not 1,000, or "mille," as the name implies). I went back many times for a piece to eat right there with a cup of tea, or for a whole cake to serve at a party. I then noticed similar cakes at other bakeries, and with many flavorings and fillings.
We experimented in our test kitchen, of course, and developed our own versions of this dessert. We have a wonderful chocolate-hazelnut version and a Meyer-lemon one (find the recipes here). And now this distinctive green-tea version. Our mille-crepe cake, by the way, uses 24 crepes.
Here's what you should know to make your own Green-Tea Crepe Cake.
1. Make Pastry Cream
Pouring the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture a little at a time is referred to as tempering. It ensures that the eggs don’t “scramble” when they come into contact with the heat.
2. Cook Crepes
You don’t need a crepe pan—a nonstick skillet works just as well. Don’t use too much butter. To flip the crepe, it’s easiest to lift a corner with a small spatula and then use your fingers.
3. Let the Crepes Cool
As you make them, stack the crepes and let them cool before assembling the cake. They won’t stick to one another. (You can store extra crepes this way; cover with plastic and refrigerate.)
4. Assemble the Cake
Use an offset spatula to spread pastry cream on each crepe before topping it with another one.
5. Dust with Matcha
Right before you serve it, sprinkle the cake with a mix of matcha and confectioners’ sugar as a finishing touch.
6. Slice and Serve
The dozens of layers look especially beautiful when the cake is sliced.