I had been rather small-minded about crepes growing up, as I held onto the notion that they were simply vehicles for Nutella. That’s the only way I consumed them in Italy. In fact, those childhood Nutella crepes were only marginally better than eating Nutella out of the jar because it was definitely more crepe on Nutella than Nutella on crepe. When served folded into a messy triangle, you see thick layers of dark brown luscious Nutella with barely visible streaks of yellow crepes in between. Somehow though, psychologically it felt better than just directly eating Nutella on its own. Similarly, Italy also has Nutella gelato in the gelaterias, which, of the few times I’ve tried it, is most certainly just Nutella served at a colder temperature. And again, somehow more socially acceptable than just eating straight Nutella with a spoon which Italians would tut at.
I digress, back to the crepes. Fortunately, with age and more exposure to global foods, I learned that these little pancakes are hospitable to all kinds of fillings.
So, I made a savory crepe cake. You just make loads of crepes and stack them up and the end result is aesthetically more impressive than the effort put into them. And the best thing about this is that you can make the crepes a 1-2 days in advance, as well as the filling, and then you just assemble on the day. Or even the day before. The key is to be organized, this is not a great impromptu dish. You have to let the crepe batter rest and you have to let the final cake rest.
You can obviously make this sweet as well with layers of Nutella in between.
Serves 6 as a starter
120g buckwheat flour
pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
15g butter, melted, + more for cooking
A bunch of dill, finely chopped
200g smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp capers, finely chopped
300g cream cheese
100g sour cream
Place flour in a bowl together with the salt and sugar. Whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter, then add half of it to the flour bowl. Mix together to form a smooth paste before whisking in the rest of the liquid.
Leave to rest in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight.
When ready to cook the crepes, give the batter a good whisk, it should be the consistency of heavy cream, if it’s too thick, add a bit of water.
Heat a skillet on high with a small nob of butter and swirl it around so it coats the base, remove excess with a paper towel, it should just be a coating. Pour enough batter to just thinly coat the base. Cook for about 1 minute, until bubbles form on the surface (you don’t want to overcook or else it’s a tough brittle crepe), then flip and cook for the same time on the other side. Repeat for the rest of the batter.
For the filling, beat together the sour cream and cream cheese until it’s fluffy. Stir in the dill, smoked salmon, capers and lemon zest. Add lemon juice to taste, add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the crepe cake, spread each crepe with a thin layer of the filling. Lay another piece of crepe on top and repeat until you’ve finished with the crepes or the filling.
Cover and leave to chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving so it has time to firm up.