“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” - Virginia Woolf
One thing you've likely noticed in any post is the fact we never neglect to mention the food we experience during our travels. Sometimes we let spontaneity pick the restaurant, and sometimes we do a little research on other blogs to find the best hotspots. Here's my food planning tidbit for traveling: I really don't like to rely only on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp - I google a specific meal or vibe I'm going for like "best brunch in Dubai", "rooftop cocktails in Prague" or "must have dessert in Vienna" followed by the word, "blog". Bloggers share their real experiences and take pride in what they present to their readers. It's just the best way to get honest opinions and insider tips on places you wouldn't want to miss from people who either know the area well or have at least already walked the paths. I love taking their suggestions and following a few of their footsteps while making explorations of my own.
Okay, but if you don't research, sometimes you take a chance and walk into an adorable cafe in Yerevan, Armenia called Louis Charden and you experience a piece of cake that makes you want to stop time, curl up with a good book, a cup of tea and this particular slice for hours on end. We ordered this heaven sent dessert on a whim after our lunch one day before we set out to see the sights of Armenia's capital city. "Mmmm, this cake is full of pastry creme, I think we need that," I said, with a mischievous smile that I know Jon can't resist. It was layered and light and almost too pretty to eat with its horizontal striped interior. We devoured it and I decided right then I needed to remember this delicate dessert. It was my edible souvenir, my kind of souvenir, and I absolutely needed to share it with people I love.
I mentioned it in our post Mother Armenia, and a few months ago, I decided to recreate it from scratch and share this beautiful mess with my mom on her birthday.
I've always had a passion for baking. I grew up watching her make our birthday cakes and our holiday cookies. My grandmothers made their traditional pies and loaves. My aunt can outbake literally anyone and currently runs a successful cookie business. I loved learning from all my favorite women: new techniques, new tools, new flavors. They are all so profoundly good at making people happy with their sweets, and I knew this crepe cake had to be decent if they taught me anything at all.
I looked at a lot of recipes and settled on this 20-layer version by Ellen Easton, Tea Master and author. I mean if she's a Tea Master, she knows a fine tasting cake, right? You can't have tea without cake. This woman is pure goals. One thing I did add as a finisher was a chocolate ganache (see instructions at the bottom) because that's how it was presented to me in that little cafe and let's be real, chocolate makes everything better.
I'll be quite honest, the recipe is nothing short of a small nightmare, but it's so well written and you'll feel like a certified pastry chef in the end. Now, you have to make 20 crepes according to this recipe. Have I ever made a crepe before? NOPE. Do I own a flat crepe griddle and magic wand that makes them round? Also, negative. But I got my small skillet out, a 7 or 8 inch round, and got my butter ready. Butter melting in the pan between every crepe is essential. To prepare my amateur self, I watched this YouTube video from Joy of Baking - start it at the 5 minute mark if you make the crepe batter from Ellen's recipe. Y'all, after watching this demo, getting the temperature on the stove pretty perfect, swirling that batter around the pan, and burning my fingers only a few times while flipping, I stinkin' nailed it. I messed up my first two attempts and then created 20 consecutive successes. You don't have to pat me on the back, I already did that myself. It was so much easier than I thought it was going to be, and I encourage anyone to play around in the kitchen. You may surprise yourself!
Go by Ellen's recipe, have a pretty cake stand ready, and pile on the ganache at the end. Here's a few pictures to show my own assembly:
Chocolate Ganache: (this is the last step if you choose to add it)
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons sugar
6 ounces dark chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup powdered sugar, optional for topping
Combine heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over chocolate and butter in a separate dish. Let it cool, and spread over the prepared crepe cake.