The recipe for these crêpes comes straight from my Parisian friend's family. You'll notice that it includes a bit of leavening which isn't often found in crêpes, but the original recipe calls for Alsa (a French baking powder), which gives these crêpes a light and fluffy texture -- I substituted a bit of baking powder in its place. The cream is made from a simple pastry cream, lightened with whipped cream and a bit of rum. Feel free to substitute another liquor for the rum if you like. —Yossy Arefi
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.
In a large bowl or measuring cup, thoroughly whisk together the milk, eggs, oil, and lemon juice and zest.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is well combined and no lumps remain. Let the batter rest for about an hour while you prepare the filling.
When you are ready to cook the crêpes, heat a 9-inch pan, lightly greased with oil, over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl to cover the bottom completely. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, then flip and cook for another 20 seconds or so. Flip the crêpe onto a baking sheet or countertop lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you've used all of the batter. This recipe should make between 20 and 30 crêpes. You'll need about 20 crêpes for the cake.
For the filling and assembly:
Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife. Add it and the milk to a medium saucepan and heat until just below a simmer. Turn off the heat and let the cream infuse for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt. It will stick together in a big clump at first, but keep whisking until it is light yellow and well combined.
Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and squeeze all of the seeds into the milk. Rinse off the pod and reserve it for another use. Return the pan to the stove and heat the milk to just below a simmer.
Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture until well combined. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat while whisking constantly. Once the mixture begins to bubble, continue to whisk vigorously and cook for one more minute.
Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and cool completely.
Whip the cream to almost stiff peaks, then whisk it into the cool pastry cream. Whisk in the rum.
To complete the cake, place one crêpe on a serving plate, then spoon about 3 tablespoons of the pastry cream on top. Layer another crêpe on top and repeat the process until all of the pastry cream and crêpes are used. Make sure to save a nice looking crêpe for the top! Chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight before slicing and serving. If you like, dust the top with confectioner's sugar just before serving.
Yossy Arefi is a photographer and stylist with a passion for food. During her stint working in restaurant kitchens, Yossy started the blog Apt. 2B Baking Co. where, with her trusty Pentax film camera, she photographs and writes about seasonal desserts and preserves. She currently lives in Brooklyn but will always love her native city of Seattle. Follow her work at apt2bbakingco.blogspot.com & yossyarefi.com.