If you are wondering how to jazz up your pancakes for Shrove Tuesday how about making a pancake cake? This kind of cake is also known as a crepe cake, or a thousand layer cake - it's not literally a thousand layers but the picture above shows why it has that name! This is essentially a stack of pancakes sandwiched together with creme patissiere between each layer, and you slice it as you would a normal cake.
I made this for my local Clandestine Cake Club meeting in February. The organisers, Hayley and Maureen, chose an unusual theme: the Tudor period. The title was "queen of hearts" but rather than relating to Valentine's day, it actually meant King Henry VIII and his many queens. We were asked to make a cake using ingredients that would have been available in the Tudor era, such as fruit, nuts, spices etc. We had fruit cake, ginger cake, apple cake - and a passionfruit cake which I think slightly missed the point but was still very nice!
I had an idea right away which I decided to go with - pancakes! Pancakes were popular in Tudor times particularly on Shrove Tuesday when people would use up richer foods such as eggs, sugar and milk before Lent. I also thought that the origin of the pancake race dated back to Tudor times, but it turns out (according to Wikipedia anyway) that it was just a couple of decades before that. The story goes that a housewive was making pancakes when the bells started ringing for the church service; she didn't want to be late so she ran to church with her frying pan, tossing her pancake as she went! However what I also discovered was that it was on Shrove Tuesday that Henry VIII publicly declared his love for Anne Bolyn, at a joust in 1526. So I think a pancake cake does fit the Tudor theme!
For the pancakes, you need: (Makes about 12-15 pancakes depending on size and thickness)
6 cups milk
3 cups plain flour
2/3 cup caster sugar
large pinch of salt
oil or Fry Light for frying
For the creme patissiere:
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla flavouring
2 tbsp double cream, whipped
For the filling:
2 cups double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
It's best to make the creme patissiere the day before; you can also make the pancake batter in advance but return to room temperature before using.
To make the creme patissiere, beat the egg, flour, sugar and cornflour until smooth.
In a saucepan bring the milk to the boil then immediately remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the egg mixture.
Return to the heat, stirring continually for about five minutes until thickened then remove from the heat. Add the vanilla and set aside to cool until firm. When the creme has cooled, fold in the whipped cream and refrigerate overnight.
To make the pancakes, beat the eggs, flour and milk and add the sugar and salt.
Heat a little oil or Fry Light in a frying pan, pour in enough of the pancake mixture so you have a thin layer and cook on both sides until browned.
The pancakes need to cool, so I laid them all out on a long strip of greaseproof paper along my kitchen worktop.
When the pancakes are cooled, beat the creme patissiere into the whipped cream with the caster sugar.
Spread a thin layer of the filling on each pancake and layer them up. It's best to do this on a cake board or whatever you want to serve the cake on as it isn't very easy to move afterwards!
Here you can see the cake starting to take shape
And here's the whole cake. I had a sort of half-pancake made from the last bit of mixture which I used on top and then sprinkled it with icing sugar.
I love seeing all the layers!
When you slice the cake, you get a normal cake-slice shape but you can see all the layers and the cream in the middle.
To an extent, yes this is a pile of pancakes... but it does actually taste like cake and is an unusual alternative either to a sponge cake or if you want to make something different on Shrove Tuesday!