This Vanilla Mille Crêpe Cake is made with layers of paper-thin homemade French-style crêpe and vanilla sweetened whipped cream topped with a crunchy brûléed topping. With a total of 24 crêpes and 23 layers of créme chantilly cream, this is a showstopping cake. The best part is that it's no-bake and easier to make than you would think.
Being the first crêpe layer cake shared on my website, I've kept it simple and kept it more as a base recipe that we can build on later on. The crêpes and whipped cream are infused with pure natural vanilla beans, creating the familiar aromatic fragrance and creamy, well-rounded taste to this crêpes cake that we all know and love. The top is sprinkled with granulated sugar and torched until golden to solidify into a crunchy brûléed layer that provides a welcome textural contrast to the smooth crêpe layers.
French desserts and baking will always have my heart. Whenever I think of popular bakes, French patissiere such as madeleines, profiteroles or tarts always spring to mind. Crêpes are also always on the list, and I'm thrilled to share such a brilliant way of using such an iconic breakfast staple.
If this is your first time making crêpe or you want a few extra tips, then check out my Guide on How To Make French Crêpes. It's loaded with information and pointers that will help you out.
What is Crêpe cake?
A Japanese pastry chef, Emy Wadu, first fell in love with crêpes whilst studying pastry in France. On returning to Tokyo, she found they dried out though and layered them with a filling, thus creating crêpes cake. They hit real popularity in her New York boutique Lady M and are made with many seasonal flavours such as passionfruit, Earl Grey and Dulce de Leche.
A mille crêpes cake is made from multiple layers of crêpe translating to 'a thousand crêpes' sandwiched together with a filling. Otherwise known as a Crêpes Layer Cake and Gâteau de Crêpes, the crêpes are soft, tender and delicate to make them as thin as possible. Fillings tend to be a different flavoured light whipped cream, creme patissiere or a mascarpone filling and form the bond between the stacked layers.
Once set in the refrigerator, the crêpe cake forms a beautiful, eye-catching cake with multiple stacked layers. What makes it distinctive from other cakes is that it requires no baking. Both elements can be made in advance and teamed with the necessary time in the fridge to set; this cake makes an incredible make-ahead option. Perfect for birthdays, get-togethers and year-round entertaining.
Why you'll love this Mille Crêpe Cake recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples that you'll already have. I provide substitutions where I can to make this as easy as possible for you to make.
- Deceptively simple. With only two components for this exceptional cake, each one comes together easily. The main point to note is that this does take time to create. Making 24 crêpes in one go does take patience but switch on your favourite tunes, chat to your bestie, or kitchen dance in front of the stove and the time will fly. I actually find the action of making that many crêpes in one go quite therapeutic!
- This cake is a showstopper. You'll be sure to garner lots of 'oohs' and 'aaghs' with this beauty. The ruffled edges look absolutely divine and remind me of a ballerina tutu. Leave the top clear to see the golden brûlée beauty or treat it like a canvas and decorate it with your favourite flowers or fruit.
- Entertainers delight. When under the pump entertaining, I love a dessert that can be made the day before to alleviate all the pressure on the day. This cake is perfect for this purpose as it needs time in the fridge to set but also for the flavours to develop.
Ingredients and substitutions
The shopping list of ingredients needed to make this cake isn't extensive which is fantastic. I've made a couple of notes regarding the main ingredients below but also included any substitutions that you can use. Make sure to check out the recipe card for the exact quantities required.
Dry ingredients - Plain flour (all-purpose), sugar and salt
- Plain (all-purpose) Flour - the crêpes are designed to be thin and flat so no leavening agent is needed. It's best not to substitute the plain flour for self-raising flour as this will change the true nature of French-style crêpes. To make these gluten-free, substitute the flour 1-1 for your favourite gluten-free flour alternative.
- Sugar and salt - Granulated sugar is added to sweeten the crêpes and salt is added to season the batter. Both provide essential flavour so the crêpes don't turn out bland. Granulated sugar can be substituted with caster, golden or light brown sugar.
Wet ingredients - eggs, milk, water, melted butter and vanilla bean paste
- Milk - I recommend using whole milk for the batter. Whilst you can use semi-skim or skim milk as a replacement, note that the higher fat content in whole milk provides essential flavour to the crêpes. Can you substitute it with non-dairy milk? Yes, absolutely. Good alternatives are oat, almond, soy or coconut milk. The crêpes will take on the flavour of the milk which will affect the overall flavour of the cake.
- Vanilla bean paste - the hero flavour component of our cake. I love to use vanilla bean paste as the flavour is more concentrated than a vanilla extract and you have the added bonus of all the vanilla beans in the paste. A great substitute if you don't have the paste is to use the beans scraped out of the inside of a vanilla pod. Or you can use vanilla extract (not essence which is an artificial flavouring), but add an extra teaspoon of extract if using.
Crêpe filling - sweetened whipped cream
Made with only three ingredients, cream, powdered (confectioners') icing sugar and vanilla.
- Cream - You can use either double (heavy) cream or whipping cream for the filling. whilst they are both cream (of course!), they hold a different fat content with double cream holding a higher fat content. I prefer to use double cream as it holds better once whipped.
- Vanilla bean paste - Just like with the crêpes batter, use vanilla bean paste. There is nothing prettier than seeing all those beautiful vanilla specks in the cream.
How to make Crêpe Cake
Whilst a crêpes cake sounds very fancy, don't be deceived - follow along with these steps so that you can visually see and understand the four main stages. I break them down into:
- Making the crêpes batter - you'll see below that I recommend making the batter in a blender for speed and ease. If you don't have a blender then make sure to view my French Crêpes Guide for step-by-step process instructions to make the crêpes by hand.
- Cooking the crêpes - no special equipment is needed here.
- Making the filling - you can whip the cream by hand or with a hand-held electric beater.
- Assembling the cake - this step is very simple to do but takes a bit of time.
Just so that you can create a realistic timeline and plan ahead, I've added notes as to how long each component takes. In summary, the hands-on working time is just shy of an hour and a half, and you'll need 5 hours of refrigeration time.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
How to make crêpes
1. Make the crêpes batter - 10 minutes working time
Add the flour, sugar, and salt first into the blender cup. Then the eggs, milk, cold water and melted butter into the blender and blend until fully incorporated. This can take a mere 30 seconds. It's that quick! (Image 1 & 2).
Refrigerate the batter - 1-hour minimum
Refrigerate the mixture for a minimum of one hour. Leave it in the blender with the lid on or decant the batter into a mixing bowl. Cover it in plastic wrap.
2. Cook the crêpes - 45 to 60 minutes working time
You'll need no special equipment but ensure that the frying pan you use is non-stick. This makes it way easier to flip the crêpes over and cook the underside.
If you prefer to use a specialist frying pan, then I recommend a Crêpes Pan - especially if you are going to make crêpes often.
You'll see in the process images that I use a 9-inch crêpes pan. This size pan yields 24 crêpes. The number of crêpes will depend on the size of your pan and the thickness of each crêpes.
- Heat the pan and brush some melted butter onto the base, wiping away any excess (Image 3).
- Pour a ¼ cup worth of batter into the base of the pan and swirl the pan until the batter evenly coated the base (Image 4).
- Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the underside is golden and the edges of the crêpes have crispened up (Image 5).
- Run a spatula around the edges to loosen it and flip the crêpe over. Cook for about another 30 seconds and slide onto your plate (Image 6).
- Repeat with the remaining batter. Pile the crêpes on top of one another as the steam will keep the crêpes soft.
Stack the crêpes up on top of one another until they cool down to room temperature (Image 7 & 8).
How to make the crêpe cake filling
3. Whip the cream-filling ingredients together - 5 minutes working time (using a hand-held electric beater)
I went for a simple sweetened whipped cream as I know from past experience that it allows the vanilla to shine through. The sweetness also adds flavour to the crêpe cake which might otherwise be quite bland.
To make the créme chantilly (how sweetened cream is called in France), add the cream, powdered icing sugar and vanilla bean paste into a mixing bowl and whip until firm peaks. You can refrigerate this covered if making the cream ahead of time (Image 9 & 10).
Assembling the layered crêpes cake
4. Layer the crêpes and cream together - 25-30 minutes working time
The process of layering the two components together is very simple to do but does require a little time and patience. To make the process easier, I recommend using a cake turntable, ¼ measuring cup, offset spatula and kitchen blow torch.
- Add one crêpe to the turn table, serving plate or cake stand
- Dollop a ¼ cup worth of whipped cream onto the centre of the crêpe. Spread the whipped cream evenly across the centre leaving a 1cm (½ inch) gap from the edge (Image 11 & 12).
- Lay another crêpe carefully over the cream and gently press (Image 13 & 14), and repeat dolloping and spreading the cream over this second crêpe.
- Repeat the process until you finish with the final crêpe. Do not cover this final layer in cream. Make sure to use the prettiest crêpes for this top layer as it's the one that's shown.
NOTE: To get a perfectly flat cake, instead of one that is domed, I've found the easiest way to get flat, defined layers are to smooth the cream from the middle out, almost to the edges but not all the way, leaving a slight gap. Place the next crêpes on top and use your fingers to gently press it down and push the cream to the edges all the way around. It's an extra little step that I found worked well (Image 15 & 16).
Refrigerate then serve- 4 hours minimum
- Loosely cover the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, remove the cake from the fridge, and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the surface of the top crêpe (Image 17 & 18). Use a kitchen blow torch to melt and caramelise the sugar until golden (Image 19 & 20). It will harden in minutes. You can add pretty flowers or some seasonal berries to decorate (optional). Slice and serve straight away (The brûlée softens over time so it's best to do this part just before serving.)
Recipe pro tips
Tips for the crêpes batter:
- Why should you refrigerate the batter? This helps the flour to hydrate and for the gluten to relax. The result is super tender crêpes.
Tips for making the crêpes:
- Use a ¼ cup for consistency. This is my biggest tip to achieve consistent layers. A ¼ cup of batter makes the perfect 23cm/9inch crêpe. A ¼ cup of whipped cream provides the perfect amount between each layer. Using the same amount will ensure a completely professional-looking layer cake that looks straight off the counter of your local bakery.
- Use 2 pans to make the crêpes. Speed up the process of making the crêpes by using two pans at a time. You won't be able to leave the stove for a second but it will halve the time needed to make the crêpes!
- Butter the pan only for the first crêpes. If using a good quality non-stick frypan, you'll only need to grease the pan for the first crêpes. There is melted butter in the crêpes batter which prevents them from sticking.
- Don't throw the first crêpes. Often the first crêpes that you make won't turn out perfectly as it's the one that essentially seasons the pan. Don't chuck it. Use it as the first layer on your serving plate and you'll never know that it was less than imperfect.
Tips for assembling:
- Cool the crêpes before layering: The crêpes need to all be at room temperature before you start the process of layering them with the cream. You'll end up with a soupy mess otherwise. Not ideal!
- Refrigerate the cake: This allows the cream to set in place thus creating a secure bond and hence stability between the layers. If you don't refrigerate the cake, you'll find the layers slipping and sliding making it near impossible to cut neatly. It also helps the flavours infuse together resulting in a tastier cake.
- Clean, neat slices. There is nothing more attractive and appealing than seeing a super cleanly cut slice of crêpes layer cake. You can see all the individual layers and literally count them. Once the cake is cole, run a sharp-bladed knife through hot water, dry it off then slice. Repeat this process for each slice.
I'm literally so excited to bring you various flavour combinations of this cake. The options are endless, but here are a few of my favourites.
- Chocolate Crêpes Cake. Substitute a ½ cup of flour for cocoa powder in the batter for the ultimate chocolate crêpes. Also, add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder into the cream and drizzle the cake with ganache.
- Nutella Hazelnut Crêpes cake. Make the crêpes as per the recipe. Warm ½ cup Nutella, smear Nutella onto each crêpes and then cover in cream repeating these layers until finished. Finish with chopped hazelnuts and crushed Ferrero Rocher. This would undoubtedly be my children's favourite option!!
- Tiramisu Crêpes Cake: I think this will definitely be the next Crêpes Cake I share on here, so watch this space! Mascarpone coffee whipped cream layered between thin crêpes dusted in cocoa powder. A twist on the Italian Classic. Yep, this one is calling my name.
- Strawberry Mille Crêpes Cake: The perfect opportunity to add fruit to a cake. I'm thinking of your favourite strawberry jam swirled through creme chantilly and thin slices of strawberries added in between the layers of the crêpe.
- Espresso Caramel Crêpes Cake: I actually made this showstopper in my cookbook Simply Sweet Nostalgic Bakes. I layer simple crêpes with an espresso chocolate cream and drizzle the whole cake in espresso caramel, and it's divine!
How do you create neat edges on the cake?
There are two ways to do this. The first way, as shown in the image below is once the cake has been assembled and set in the fridge. It's a little quicker but not necessarily neater. The second option is definitely more precise but at the same time, more time-consuming.
- Option 1: Assemble the cake as per the method and refrigerate until set. Place a plate over the top cake that's slightly smaller than the ruffled edges on the cake and use a sharp knife to cut all the way around. You can see the finished product in the images above. Conclusion: Quicker but not as neat.
- Option 2: Once all the crêpes are made and cooled to room temperature. Place one crêpes at a time onto a chopping board with a plate over the top and run a knife around the edge creating a perfectly circular crêpes. Repeat with all the crêpes and then layer with the cream as per the recipe. Conclusion: More time-consuming, but way neater and more exact.
How to store and freeze this cake
- Refrigerate the batter for up to 48 hours before you make the crêpes. Just give the batter a quick stir before using.
- Wrap cooled cooked crêpes in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Due to it being stabilised with powdered sugar, the sweetened whipped cream will last up to four days in the refrigerator.
- The vanilla crêpe cake will last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if wrapped well in plastic wrap. Brûlée the sugar just before serving.
- Once assembled the crêpe cake doesn't freeze well at all. The cream doesn't hold up well in the freezer as it starts seeping moisture. You'd have quite a soggy affair once thawed.
- You can, however, freeze the crêpes once cooked. Place sheets of parchment or wax paper in between crêpes. Store in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to one month. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator then whip the cream and assemble as per the recipe.
Equipment you'll need
Technically you don't need any special equipment to make this cake and can make it perfectly well without any of them. However, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that will make your life easier.
- Blender: Any blender will do to whizz your batter up. I use my NutriBullet but I have to make the batter for this crêpes cake in two batches as the NutriBullet cup isn't big enough to incorporate it all in one go. However, if you have a large enough blender or food processor, then do it in one batch.
- Fry pan or crêpes pan: I own both, and make crêpes in both sizes. For a standard sized crêpes (23cm/9inches) I'll use my crêpes pan. However, if I want to make super cute small ones (12cm/5inches) then I use my small non-stick frypan and it works a treat!
- Cake turn table: You most definitely don't need to use a cake turn table to make make a crêpes cake, but in truth, it does make the process easier and quicker when smoothing out the cream.
- Blow Torch: To get the brûléed layer on top, you definitely need to use a chef's blow torch. For some recipes, if you don't have a blow torch, you can place the dessert under a grill (broiler). Unfortunately, this won't work for this layer cake as it will just end up melting the cream. If you don't have a blowtorch you could melt the sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved and turns golden. Then drizzle over the top of the cake and smooth quickly with an offset spatula.
And there you have my Mille Crêpes Cake recipe in all its glory. I hope that I've debunked the myth that they are tricky to make. Sure they need a little time but it's one hundred per cent worth it!
More crêpes recipes
If you tried this Vanilla Crêpes Cake or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Vanilla Mille Crêpe Cake Recipe
- Crêpes Pan or frypan/skillet
- Cake Turn Table optional
- Blow Torch
Crêpes - makes 24 crêpes using a 23cm (9-inch fry pan)
- 300 g plain flour
- 30 g granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 840 ml whole milk
- 60 ml cold water
- 30 g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling
- 720 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 60 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 30 g granulated sugar, for the brûlée top
Make the batter using a blender
- Add all ingredients to the blender and blend! Add the flour, sugar and salt into the blender cup first. Then add the eggs, milk, water, melted butter and vanilla bean paste, and blend for a maximum of 30 seconds resulting in a smooth batter. Add a lid to the blender or decant the batter into a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-hour minimum.
Cook the crêpes
- Prepare the pan. Heat a crêpes pan or non-stick frying pan/skillet on medium heat on your stovetop for one minute. Lightly grease with melted butter wiping away any excess.
- Cook the crêpes one at a time. Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a quick whisk. It can thicken as the flour hydrates, so add a bit of water to loosen it if necessary. Pour 60 ml (¼ cup) of batter into the centre of the pan, and whilst lifting the pan, tilt it so that the batter swirls over the base and coats the pan's surface in an even layer. If there are any gaps, then add a couple of drops to fill them in. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the edges start to dry out and brown and the underside of the crêpe is set and golden.
- Flip. Slide a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the crêpes all the way around. Slide the spatula underneath and flip the crêpes over. Cook for another 30-60 seconds until golden, and slide the pancake onto a plate. Cover with a clean tea towel to keep the crêpes warm.
- Cook more crêpes. Lightly grease the pan again if need be, cooking the remaining batter. Stack the crêpes on top of one another to keep them warm and soft. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
Make crêpes filling - sweetened whipped cream
- Whip the cream. Add the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean paste into a mixing bowl and whip until soft peaks. You can refrigerate this covered with plastic wrap if making the cream ahead of time.
Assemble the crêpes cake
- Layer crêpes with cream. Place one crêpe on a serving plate or cake turntable and dollop a ¼ cup worth of whipped cream into the centre. Using an offset spatula, smooth the cream evenly over the surface of the crêpe, leaving a 1cm (½-inch) gap around the edge.Place a second crêpe onto this layer of cream and use your hands to gently press the crêpe onto the cream and smooth out any air bubbles. Use your fingertips to push the cream to the edges of the crêpe. This will help to create a flat cake rather than a domed one.Repeat, layering crêpes, then cream, until the crêpes have been used up, finishing with a crêpe on top. (Save your pretties one for this final layer!)Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-hours to allow the cream to set and the flavours to infuse.
- Brûlée the sugar. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the surface of the top crêpe. Use a kitchen blowtorch tome lt the sugar until it dissolves and turns golden brown. It will set hard within a couple of minutes. (Note: only brûlée the sugar before serving as it will soften from the moisture in the crêpes and lose its signature hard crack quality.) Top with fresh flowers or fruit if desired.Use a sharp-bladed knife to slice and serve.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Refrigerate the batter for up to 48 hours before you make the crêpes. Just give the batter a quick stir before making the crepes.
- Cooled cooked crêpes, when wrapped in plastic wrap, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- As the sweetened whipped cream is stabilised with powdered icing sugar, it will last up to four days in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be used to serve on top of ice cream or alongside your favourite pie.
- The Crêpes cake will last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if wrapped well in plastic wrap. It's recommended to brûlée the sugar just before serving.
- Once assembled, the crêpe cake doesn't freeze well at all. The cream doesn't hold up well in the freezer as it starts seeping moisture. You'd have a pretty soggy affair once thawed.
- You can, however, freeze the crêpes once cooked. Place sheets of parchment or wax paper in between crêpes. Store in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to one month. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, whip the cream, and assemble them as per the recipe.
- Why should you refrigerate the batter? This helps the flour hydrate and for the gluten to relax. The result is super tender crepes.
- Use a ¼ cup for consistency. This is my biggest tip to achieve consistent layers. A ¼ cup of batter makes the perfect 23cm/9inch crêpe, and a ¼ cup of whipped cream provides the ideal amount between each layer. Using the exact amount will ensure an utterly professional-looking layer cake that looks straight off the counter of your local bakery.
- Use two pans to make the crêpes. Speed up making the crêpes by using two pans at a time. You won't be able to leave the stove for a second, but it will halve the time needed to make the crêpes!
- Butter the pan only for the first crêpes. Using a good quality non-stick frypan, you'll only need to grease the pan for the first crêpes. There is melted butter in the crêpes batter, which prevents them from sticking.
- Don't throw the first crêpes. Often the first crêpes you make won't turn out perfectly as it's the one that essentially seasons the pan. Don't chuck it. Use it as the first layer on your serving plate, and you'll never know that it was less than imperfect.
- Cool the crêpes before layering: The crêpes need to all be at room temperature before you start layering them with the cream. You'll end up with a soupy mess otherwise. Not ideal!
- Refrigerate the cake: This allows the cream to set in place, thus creating a secure bond and stability between the layers. If you don't refrigerate the cake, you'll find the layers slipping and sliding, making it near impossible to cut neatly. It also helps the flavours infuse together, resulting in a tastier cake.
- Clean, neat slices. Nothing is more attractive and appealing than seeing a cleanly cut slice of crêpes layer cake. You can see all the individual layers and count them. Once the cake is cold, run a sharp-bladed knife through hot water, dry it off, then slice. Repeat this process for each slice.