A friend was referencing the concept of time in an email recently, saying she was gearing up for the last third of the year. I personally feel like a time traveler catapulting from summer month to summer month. (Where did June and July go? No really, where?)
September is always the gateway into my biggest (and most favorite) three months of the year. Fall! It’s my time to welcome back clients from their summer homes and summer vacations. I welcome new clients onto my weekly drop off schedule. My calendar fills up with cocktail parties, dinners, holiday celebrations, and everything in between that involves my cooking services. It’s a welcomed hustle after the slow and lazy summer months.
This particular September has a new component. I’m calling it my gateway into health. If you’ve been following along with my THIS or THAT installments, I’m having surgery August 30th saying goodbye to my Lady Guts. I am more excited than ever for this coming fall season. I plan on savoring every single celebration and party for my clients for the rest of the year. I’ll think of these events as a celebration of my own health, wellness, and strength.
Everyone knows that cake is one of the best things to bring to a celebration, right? Have you heard of Lady M Cakes? They’re decadent, expensive, delicious works of cake art. Their signature offering is a Mille Crepe Cake. Layers and layers of crepes and sweet cream. If you have the chance to sample Lady M, go for it! It’ll be the best $10-per-slice you could spend.
Growing up in the Midwest, Bisquick pancakes were some of the first things I learned to cook as a young girl. I think when I learned how to make crepes, not long after, I knew my happy place was in the kitchen.
Sweet or savory, plain or fancy, lacy, sophisticated, European, delicate. They’re all of that, but let’s face it... crepes are just skinny pancakes. How hard could it be to layer them? How hard could it be to layer them with cream filling? And how hard could it be to layer them with cream filling and make a cake?! Friends, it’s not hard at all, and the end result is so satisfying and tastes really, really special.
I recently tried out my own version of this stacked cake for a client’s dinner party and I knocked my own socks off. Then I had the honor of making it again for a dear friend’s Birthday party. In the process, I found the layering and stacking to be very meditative. But there’s also an element of pushing the limits. How high can I go? How many more layers can I add?
As I made both of these cakes one of my favorite lessons came to mind. My teacher Gina DiNapoli of JABS by Gina has a philosophy of #Do1more. Of course her reference is fitness. Do one more set. One more rep. One more push-up. One more jab. You’re already done. Goal met. Sweaty. Tired. Fatigued. What’s one more? Just go for it. Exceed your own expectations!
Two years ago, long before I knew Gina, I wrote my own version of #Do1more in this very blog. I wrote “Think about what sets you apart from your peers or competitors. How can you improve? What is working? What seems stale in your offerings? I always say it takes very little effort to be extraordinary. Just go one extra step, do one more thing, take one more minute because it makes a difference. And that difference is what makes something special.”
In class, Gina has us push past the thoughts of exhaustion and do one more. That idea, mingled with my own thoughts of trying to be extraordinary, creates a philosophy that I apply to many aspects of my life.
How can I mentally and physically do one more? One more set, rep, lap, layer. Can I read one more page, donate one more dollar, hold the door for one more person? Count one more blessing, leave one more minute earlier, answer one more email... one more layer of crepe and mascarpone cream. Do one more. You’ll be better for it.
And today I’ll ask for you to add one more prayer, or offering, or good thought for my surgery on August 30th. I’d greatly appreciate the support. Wishing you all good things as you savor the rest of the summer season and welcome your own September.
Mille Crepe Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 large eggs
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for the pan
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
16 oz mascarpone cheese
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup unsifted powdered sugar
3 cups berries
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix the eggs, milk, and heavy cream in a large bowl until well combined. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture; mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for a few hours before making the crepes. Remove from the fridge and stir well.
Brush a 12-inch heated skillet with some of the melted butter, evenly coating bottom of skillet. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, add just under a 1/4 cup batter to one side of skillet. Swirl skillet to spread batter in a thin, even layer.
Cook over medium heat about 45 seconds until the crepe edges are light golden. Using a small offset spatula, gently run it around the edge of the crepe to loosen it from the pan. Using your fingertips, carefully lift one edge of the crepe and quickly flip the crepe. Cook 30 to 45 more seconds. Transfer crepe to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Repeat the process with remaining butter and batter, wiping the skillet clean and lightly brushing with butter every few crepes, or as needed. I made 20 crepes for the cake and then in the spirit of #Do1more, I made 21! Chill crepes, covered with a damp towel, until ready to use.
To make the cream filling, combine mascarpone, heavy cream, and powdered sugar in bowl of a stand mixer; Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium-high speed for 1 to 2 minutes until stiff peaks form.
Gently mash 2 cups of the berries and mix 3/4 of the cream mixture. Reserve the rest of the cream and berries to decorate the top layer.
To assemble the cake, take the crepes out of the refrigerator. Place 1 crepe on a cake pedestal or flat serving dish. Using your small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of the berry mascarpone whipped cream mixture over the crepe, leaving a small border. Repeat process with remaining 20 crepes, until you have used the final crepe (Do not spread anything on top layer). Chill remaining plain mascarpone whipped cream until ready to serve the cake. You can trim the ragged edges, or leave them rustic and frilly. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and let it chill and set up for a few hours.
Before serving, take the cake out of the fridge. Spoon remaining plain mascarpone whipped cream over top of cake, creating a small well about 6 inches wide in the center. Arrange the remaining berries on top. Slice with a long and sharp knife, and serve.