For Natalie Paull, baking is a gift. It’s also a powerful elixir of pleasure, connection, generosity and joy. In Beatrix Bakes, Natalie indulges in baking’s sweetest moments with more than seventy recipes inspiring bakers of all kinds to mix and match to make recipes their own—whether it’s a lemon curd cream crepe cake or pecan maple cinnamon scrolls.
Sparkling with Natalie’s distinct voice, and packaged with full-colour photography, illustrations and rock-solid tips for a perfect bake, Beatrix Bakes also includes ‘Adaptrix’ suggestions (offering ways readers might do things differently, including short cuts) and is peppered with infographics to help them follow their baking heart. Try The Cheesecake (That You Will Love The Most) with a crumb base, or a bought biscuit base, or no base, or a sponge base, or even a failed cookie base! And from there, pick a topping from sour cream to crumb, to fruity bits.
The recipes are divided across eight chapters: Doughs, Pastries & Crusts; Tarts, Pies, a Crostata & a Galette; The Cake List; One in the Hand; Yeasted Bakes; Fruit-full; Creams, Custards, Fillings, Glazes and Buttercreams; and Finishing Touches.
While Natalie’s creations are inspired by classics the world over, they are irreverent too, and in Beatrix Bakes she delights in showing readers that—once they get the foundations right—the truest magic will come from a willingness to play (with the insurance of her many clever ideas and back-up plans in their apron pocket!).
Beatrix Bakes will guide anyone who loves the adventure of baking to perfect their skills and break the baking mould.
Lemon Curd Cream Crepe Cake
To be honest, making the crepes for this is exhausting. But I like to think of it as pushing yourself to feel the exhilaration of an extra mile run, or a to-do list conquered. The pay-off huuuuge! This gateau of lacy thin crepes, cream and lemon curd is unparalleled in the cakescape. There is no cake like it and the feelings it begets in others in fanatical devotion. This is morning tea—simply dust with icing (confectioners’) sugar—or, for a special occasion, do the jelly-topped adaptation (page 128) à la the Stephanie Alexander original recipe.
Once the crepes are made (and I recommend a playlist of motivational songs for this step: ‘Chariots of Fire, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now’ and Destiny Child’s ‘Survivor), the prep becomes a step-by-step layering of lemon curd and cream—think of it like a lemony lasagne! It can truly be any diameter or height—you can make it in a springform cake tin or stack it freestyle. Make it with as many layers as you like. Any way you do it, holy crepe it’s a splendid cake.
Makes one 23 cm (9 in) lemony creamy stacked cake for up to 12 people.
Takes about 1 hour for the batter cooking and 15 minutes to assemble. Allow at least a 2-hour chill for the layers to marry each other. Make the lemon curd the day before.
Keeps best eaten cold and kept chilled for up to 3 days.
50 g (1¾ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
60 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, plus 30 g (1 oz) extra, melted, for cooking the crepes
750 g (1 lb 11 oz) full-fat (whole) milk
200 g (7 oz) egg (approx. 4 eggs)
300 g (10½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
20 g (¾ oz) caster (superfine sugar
4 g (1/8 oz/½ teaspoon) fine sea salt
400 g/ml (14 oz) cream (35-45% milkfat)
400 g (14 oz) crème fraîche
5 g (1/8 oz/½ teaspoon) vanilla paste
300 g (10½ oz) Lemon curd-just under 1 x batch (page 208)
To make the crepes, melt the butter and pour it into a large jug. Add the milk, eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Using a hand blender, whiz for about 10 seconds until you have a smooth batter with a milkshakey, runny cream consistency. (Alternatively, use a food processor or blender, or make it old school by gradually whisking the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.) Rest the batter for 10 minutes at room temperature
Should you rest to the batter? That is polarizing. Some folks swear the crepes are better after the rest, which allows the batter to fully hydrate, making the crepes super tender. I think there is little detectable difference in the layered cake end game here.
Heat a shallow 20-22 cm (8-8-¾ in) non-stick frying pan (preferably a crepe pan) over a medium-high heat and drizzle a little melted butter into the pan. The butter should sizzle, not burn.
The batter recipe is enough to make twenty 22 cm (8-¾ in) crepes, but if your pan is smaller or larger in diameter, just go with that.
Pour a ladleful (60 ml/2 fl oz/¼ cup) of batter into the pan. Lift the pan up and swirl the batter out to the edge so the base is covered with a thin film of batter. Pour the excess back into the jug. Return the pan to the heat and cook for 1-2 minutes until set and faintly golden on the edges.
If the batter is sluggishly moving in the pan when you swirl, the batter is too thick—whisk in a little extra milk to thin it out. You will know whether you should adjust the mix after the first crepe. And the first one is usually a bit ugly anyway. Eat it You’ll need the strength.
Flip the crepe with an offset spatula and cook for a further minute. Slide the crepe out on a wire rack to cool. Keep crying and flipping until you have twenty crepes.* If you lose one it doesn’t matter, but this usually happens when flipping before the crepe has set. When you make your best one, set it aside for the top of the cake. It’s your GC—Greatest Crepe. Fan them, half resting on each other (they aren’t prone to sticking) on the rack, to cool.
While the crepes cool, whip the cream, crème fraiche and vanilla until it just reaches soft peak stage.
Keep the cream swirls and soft, as the crepes will absorb a little moisture. Overwhipped cream will make a dry crepe layer cake.
To assemble: choose your path. If you want to make it in a springform tin, choose one a smidge wider than the crepes so you don’t have to faff around with trimming the crepes (if you do want to do this, use scissors). Or you can stack them freeform on a cake platter. If you choose the tin, spray it with cooking oil spray and line the base and side with baking paper. If you opt for the freeform, make sure you smooth the cream and curd out as evenly as possible, to keep the layers level.
Whichever way you choose, it’s going to go like this: crepe > heaped tablespoon curd > crepe > heaped spatula-ful cream (about 100 g/ 3½ oz per layer) > crepe > curd > crepe > cream…
Smooth out the curd and cream evenly over the entire crepe—don’t be too fussy. Repeat the layers until you use up all the components. Finish with your GC that you set aside. Cover with plastic wrap.
Allow to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove the plastic (and the tin if using) and dust with icing sugar. Eat cold.
Some traditional French recipes for this crepe cake suggest using pastry custard between the layers, but I am too in love with the zingy curd in this. Try passionfruit or Seville orange, as per the Lemon curd variations (page 208).
Top the cake with an orange and passionfruit jelly. To do this (and you should, it’s so good), you’ll need to choose the springform in option. Boil the juice of 1 orange (120g/4½ oz), pulp from 1 passionfruit (20 g/¾ oz) and 40 g (1½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar. Soften 3 g (1/10 oz) cold water. When the juice boil, simmer for 1 minute, then whisk into the gelatine. Strain if you are anti-seeds. Cool, constantly it over a little ice bath, until just starting to jellify (otherwise the hot syrup will soak into the crepe and be lost). Slowly pour over the car and push into the side of the tin. Chill to completely set.
Omit the icing sugar garnish. Just before serving, sprinkle the top with a thin layer of caster (superfine) sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch. Incroyable!
* If you have had a bad time making crepes and only have ten, layer the cake following the technique on the right, keeping the curd and cream portioning the same (don’t add more filling in each layer or the cake will be too soft and slippery to cut; the curd will keep in the fridge, and you can enjoy the left-over cream with a batch of scones!). OR whiz up some more crepe mix and forge on to crepe cake glory Go you!
Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.