A crêpe cake is a beautifully layered affair that’s usually (like most cakes) a sweet dessert treat. But this savory French ham and cheese crêpe construction is a fun and delicious twist that lets you eat cake for dinner.
But that something delicious doesn’t have to be sweetened cream or Nutella or jam or anything of the sugary sort. Try creamy, tangy goat cheese speckled with fresh herbs and thin slices of savory ham instead. It’s an unexpected and delightful dinner centerpiece that’s also a great way to practice and perfect your crêpe-making skills (just put the ugly ones on the bottom; by the time you reach the top, you’ll be a pro).
French Steel de Buyer Crêpe Pan, $24.95 from Williams Sonoma
The time-tested way to cook your crêpes (it's also great for other flatbread).
If you want to make your crêpes ahead of time, skip the step of keeping them warm in the oven below and instead let them cool completely, then wrap them well and store in the fridge for a couple days, or freeze them for up to a month or two. Thaw them on a rack before using, gently peeling each one off as you assemble the cake.
You can vary the filling by using other soft, spreadable cheeses (like ricotta, brie, or cream cheese), and other thinly sliced meat—or no meat at all; caramelized onions would make a fine addition, as would roasted or sauteed mushrooms or peppers (just make sure they’re not too wet or the cake may get soggy). Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese or feta between some of the layers if you like, and use whatever soft fresh herbs you have on hand (woodier stems like those from fresh thyme should be discarded and rosemary is too tough and intense, but most other options work well).
The Ham and Cheese Crêpe Cake recipe below was developed by Coreen Carroll.
What You Need to Make a Savory Crêpe Cake
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted, plus more for cooking crêpe
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups flour
- 20 ounces goat cheese
- heavy cream to thin filling (optional)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs—anything you like (except rosemary): curly parsley, thyme, chervil, oregano, etc.
- 1/2 pound good sliced deli ham
Vitamix A2300 Series Ascent Blender, $449.95 from Williams Sonoma
A powerful blender can blitz the filling as well as the batter.
How to Make a Savory Crêpe Cake
1. In a blender add eggs, milk, water, butter, salt, and flour. Blend on high for 7-10 seconds until everything is well combined. Do not overblend as this will make your crêpes chewy. Allow the batter to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (If you’re going to use the blender to make your filling, transfer the batter to another container; it’s best if it has a spout to make pouring batter in the pan less messy.)
2. In the meantime, add the goat cheese, parmesan, and some salt and pepper to a food processor. Blend until smooth and well combined. Add more salt and pepper to taste here if you like. Add herbs and pulse the processor just a few times until the herbs have broken up and are mixed in well. If your goat cheese is very dry, try adding 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time until your mixture is smooth. You can also use milk to thin it out to a spreadable consistency, but make sure it’s not too thin.
3. Heat a small nonstick pan or crêpe pan on medium heat and melt a small amount of butter, tilting to spread it around. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop some of the batter and pour into the pan as you tilt and swirl the pan around to make a thin, perfect circle with the batter (if it sets before the bottom is coated, turn the heat down a bit). Cook until the crêpe is golden around the edges and set in the center, then use a spatula to flip the crêpe over and cook about 20 seconds more. Slide the crêpe onto a plate or baking sheet under a dish towel and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat this process until you have at least 25 perfect crêpes. (Any that don’t make the cut will still taste good smeared with some peanut butter and jam or melted chocolate for a cook’s treat.)
4. To assemble your cake, place two crêpes at the bottom of a springform pan (you may wish to lightly butter the pan or line it with parchment just to make sure nothing sticks). Using a small offset spatula, spread on the goat cheese mixture until the first layer is completely covered. Add another crêpe and repeat.
5. Add another crêpe and lay out a single layer of ham. Ensure that you are keeping everything even by pressing on the center from time to time.
6. Now repeat the layers again. Crêpe, goat cheese mixture, crêpe, goat cheese mixture, crêpe, ham. And so on. Do this until you have reached the top of your pan. You want to finish with a layer of the cheese mixture on top to seal everything in.
7. When done, cover with plastic wrap and allow to set in the fridge for at least 1 hour. To serve, use a paring knife to cut around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Open the springform clasp and remove the cake. Slice into wedges and enjoy.
Nordic Ware 9-Inch Leak-Proof Springform Pan, $16.99 from Bed, Bath & Beyond
This is about the same circumference as your standard crêpe pan.
Related Reading: Some Say Wedges Are the Wrong Way to Cut Cake
How to Eat Savory Crêpe Cake
This works well as an appetizer cut into smaller wedges, but it also makes a great meal in heartier portions with a simple green salad. It’s obviously a perfect dish for Bastille Day, but once you get the hang of swirling batter, you’ll want to make it way more often.
See our Mushroom, Spinach, and Parmesan Crêpes recipe for some more savory filling inspiration, and consider making our Socca recipe with chickpea flour and olive oil in place of the traditional crêpes (these would be particularly good with ground lamb as part of the filling).
And if you want to branch out beyond crêpes, try this Pepperoni Pizza Cake recipe made with refrigerated pizza dough, or our…interesting…Thanksgiving Turkey Cake recipe for a newfangled holiday centerpiece.
Header image by Chowhound