I'm so very into what's referred to as the "mille feuille crêpes cake" these days. Lady M makes a divine one that's set the standard for me; Bottega Falai's brûléed version has me weak in the knees! Little did I know this layered crêpes cake is also familiar to Swedes, who know it as pannkakstårta, or pancake cake.
O took it upon himself to fashion our very first attempt, cooking up and cooling nearly 20 Swedish-style pancakes before layering them with simply whipped heavy cream laced with a touch of vanilla sugar and vanilla extract. Top with whatever berries look the most promising for that time of year (in our case, supermarket raspberries in March) and shower with a generous dusting of confectioners' sugar. Best enjoyed day of, but also pretty tasty for breakfast the next day. ;)
This is a great oven-free dessert recipe that is high in drama, but surprisingly low in difficulty; you just need to the time to rest the batter, and make and cool all those pancakes. I would love to try making this with layers of classic vanilla pastry cream - as you know, my favorite!!
Makes about 20 to 25 pancakes in a 9- to 10-inch skillet
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (we used vanilla sugar)
5 cups milk (preferably whole milk)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons butter, melted; additional butter for the pan
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, salt and sugar. Add half of the milk and gradually add the flour, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the remaining milk and melted butter. Let the batter rest for about one hour.
In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt a bit of butter until foamy. Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter per pancake into the skillet, swirling to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. When the top of the pancake turns matte, about a minute or less, flip the pancake and cook the other side for roughly the same amount of time for golden brown doneness. Don't worry, the first pancake is usually for the chef. ;) Repeat the process, only adding a bit of butter if the pan looks dry.
Stack all your pancakes and cool them in the fridge for about one hour.
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 to 2 tablespoon vanilla sugar or regular sugar, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk [using a hand blender, if available!] heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract until you start to see stiff peaks then STOP (you don't want to overbeat the heavy cream, or else you'll get butter).
Fresh berries, rinsed and dried
Place the first pancake down on the platter you will use to serve the cake. Spread a dollop of the whipped cream and evenly spread with an offset spatula. Repeat the process with all of the pancakes. Place the cleaned and dried berries atop the cake. Dust with a generous sprinkling of confectioners' sugar using a sieve, if available. Chill the entire cake in the fridge for at least one hour, if possible (this will harden the whipped cream a bit, making it easier to slice). Slice, serve and enjoy when ready!
Once you've mastered this classic version, try using melted jam or Nutella between some of the layers. Yum.