I’ve spent the last few weeks — no, months — frustrated with my house. When I bought it last summer, I was under the impression that it was in good condition and that I wouldn’t have too much work to do. But how wrong I was!
Because the truth is that there’s been something wrong almost every week since moving in. First, it was minor issues like falling door knobs and leaky faucets… then I started noticing bigger issues like a crowded kitchen (not to mention seriously outdated — no hood, disposal, or dishwasher… can you imagine this situation for a food blogger?!), lack of natural light in the living room, and an incredibly outdated electrical panel. Are home owners supposed to feel pride? Because I feel nothing but shame and stress. This fact was exacerbated a few nights ago when I showed some friends around. I could see the disappointment in their faces. They smiled weakly during my tour, trying to say encouraging things like “Wow, the previous owners really didn’t do a whole lot with this, huh?” and “Well, it has a lot of potential!”
But they’re right — the house does have a lot of potential. It was built in 1912, putting it at just over 100 years old, and it has some beautiful details that are indicative of its age: bay windows, doug fir floors and a claw foot bathtub. If handled with care and love, some updates and a paint job could really turn the place around. Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the money to provide or purchase any of those things. So instead I’m playing landlord and stuffing way too many people in the house so I can afford a new kitchen by next year. And while the extra rental income definitely has its perks, I’d say it doesn’t outweigh the cons of too many negligent tenants, none of whom particularly understand or care about my stresses.
Later, as I was basically sobbing on the phone to my mom, she told me to be patient. “Most houses take time,” she said. “You have to take it in steps.” I nodded weakly, secretly sighing at her response. It was something I’d heard from too many people, far too often in the last few months. But she’s right. They’re all right. It was something I knew myself. I will eventually have the home that I want — it will just take a lot of money (sigh) and time.
So with that, I present this coconut cream crepe cake:
Similar to my plight, this cake takes time, patience, and many layers. Eventually, after many layers of thin, delicate French crepes, coconut jam and coconut cream, the stack forms a beautiful, snow-white cake. The resulting cake is a slightly spongey, pillowy texture from the stacked crepes, with a lightness from the coconut cream. Every bite is a creamy dream and a reminder that with time and patience, I will eventually have the beautiful home that I want.
Some baker’s notes:
- Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy crepe pan or one of those wooden rakes to make crepes! All you need is a nonstick skillet pan with at least one handle to be able to swirl the batter.
- Coconut jam, also known as kaya, is a coconut spread made from coconut milk, eggs, and sugar. It’s incredibly popular in Southeast Asia and can be found online or in specialty Asian supermarkets. I used this coconut jam from Hey Boo, which I received as a Christmas present from Erlend’s mom.
- Similarly, coconut cream is available online or in specialty Asian supermarkets. Be sure to use coconut cream and not coconut milk — there’s a difference between the two. Coconut milk is more commonly found in grocer stores and has the consistency of cow’s milk. It is made from shimmering one part coconut in one part water. In contrast, coconut cream is significantly thicker (it has the consistency of flat whipped cream, if that make sense) since it is made from four parts coconut in one part water. Interestingly, you can actually find coconut cream when you buy a can of coconut milk: the cream that often rises to the top of each can is considered coconut cream. If you can’t find any coconut cream, you can always go this route and whip up the excess cream in any can of coconut milk — you’ll just need several cans of coconut milk since this recipe uses a lot of cream.
- Not a fan of coconut? Feel free to sub in with regular whipped cream and any other fruit jam of your choice. I wouldn’t use jam in every layer though — I feel like that would get too intense, fast. I would spread the jam every 5 layers or so.
Coconut Cream Cake
For the Crepes
(makes a LOT of crepes, enough for an 8-inch cake)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the Coconut Cream Filling and Topping
(makes enough for an 8-inch cake)
- 2 cups coconut cream, chilled overnight
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coconut jam
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Crepes
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt until uniformly yellow.
- Add about half of the flour (around 1 cup) to the eggs, whisking gently into the eggs. The batter will be a little lumpy, but that’s okay right now. Add about half of the milk and continue whisking. The milk will thin out the batter. Alternate between the flour and milk until you’ve added it all. Continue whisking until smooth — be careful not to overmix, it should only take a minute or two.
- Once the batter is smooth, add 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter and whisk again until the butter is just incorporated into the mixture. Cover the batter and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Once the batter has chilled, heat a medium (at least 8 inches) non-stick skillet pan on medium heat. The surface of the pan needs to be pretty hot to make crepes — test its heat by adding a drop of water to the hot pan. If the water sizzles and bubbles and evaporates, the pan is hot enough. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into the pan and use the handle to twirl the pan so that the batter forms a circle. As you twirl the pan in a circular motion, the batter should spread and makes the crepe. Continue cooking until the crepe has set and the edges begin to crinkle up — a set crepe will usually slide around the pan when it is ready. Slip a spatula under the crepe to flip it over and continue cooking for another 20 seconds, or until the crepe's surface has browned. Repeat the process until the batter is finished, allowing the crepes to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting and building the cake.
Putting It All Together
- First, make coconut whipped cream: in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine 2 cups coconut cream, 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar and 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. Whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Use immediately.
- Place 1 crepe in the center of your cake plate or cake stand, and use an offset spatula to spread 3 tablespoons coconut jam evenly over crepe. Spread 3 tablespoons coconut cream, before stacking with a new crepe and repeating the process. On the fifth crepe, sprinkle a tablespoon of granulated sugar on the crepe before spreading with coconut jam and coconut cream. Repeat the process until all crepes are used.
- Spread the remaining coconut cream across the top and the sides of the cake, to cover the layers. The cake is best when eaten immediately.
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