banana bread crepe cake with butterscotch

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Banana Crepe Cake with Yogurt and Walnut Butterscotch

A whole bunch of cooking notes and tips: First, crepes are magical. Once you accept that the first one always goes in the trash, that things are really much easier with a non-stick pan (I use this one; it’s my only nonstick these days and it is worth its weigh in gold) and if you struggle with crepe-flipping, try to embrace my weirdo two-spatula crepe-flipping technique, described below, you will hit your stride and wonder why you don’t make crepes more often. And you should, they keep fantastically well in the fridge, for a few days, even. They reheat well. They never stick to each other so you can just stack them up, no fancy separators required.

A note about banana flavor: The crepes taste the most strongly of banana when served simply. As other ingredients are added, like this filling, the banana flavor is less loud (but the overall flavor tumbles dreamily together). If you’d like it to scream banana, you might add paper-thin slices of banana throughout the crepe layers — it will also stack the cake higher.

This is perfect for a decadent brunch meal or party. I think of it as a replacement for french toast, coffee cake or buttery pastries. And although it sounds completely over-the-top, I made a great effort to keep it at least a little breakfasty: the crepes are barely sweetened, the filling remains tangy and only moderately sweet and the butterscotch is as small of a yield as needed to just cover the top. And it (pardon the pun) totally takes the cake.

If you’d like to pass the walnut butterscotch alongside cake servings, rather than drizzling it over the top of the cake, I recommend you double the yield, and keep it warm so it stays pourable. If it still seems too thick, a little extra cream will thin it.

Yield: 11 to 12 9-inch crepes, or a 1 1/2-inch cake

Banana crepes
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan
1 large (will weigh 6 ounces/170 grams be about 6 inches long when unpeeled) speckly ripe banana (should yield a scant 1/2 cup peeled, pureed)
1 cup (235 ml) milk
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons (25 grams) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves

Cream cheese yogurt filling
8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese, well-softened
1 1/2 cups (345 grams) plain Greek-style yogurt
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Walnut butterscotch topping
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (50 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (about 50 grams) chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or to taste

Make the crepe batter: Blend banana in a food processor until totally smooth. Add melted butter, blend again. Add remaining ingredients and blend until they are combined. Transfer batter, which will look pretty thin, to a bowl (even easier later if it has a spout), cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, preferably overnight, and up to two days. When you remove the batter, it will seem surprisingly thick. Stir it to redistribute the ingredients before using it.

Cook the crepes: Heat a medium skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, brush pan thinly with melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip* the crepe and cook it for 30 seconds on the other side, before transferring it to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. You can stack your crepes and they should not stick together. Let crepes cool completely.

* Here’s my Weirdo Two-Spatula Crepe Flipping Method: I have two spatulas handy, one flexible fish-style spatula (these are my favorite, for everything, because they’re so thin) and one smaller, like an offset icing spatula. I slide the larger one just a little bit under the crepe and lift it enough that I can slide the smaller one under. I lift it enough that I can get the larger one far underneath the crepe, then use the larger one alone to flip it. It makes it very easy, I promise.

Make filling: Whip cream cheese until fluffy, then beat in yogurt, 1/2 cup at a time. When fully combined, add sugar and vanilla then beat until rich and fluffy, just another minute.

Assemble crepe cake: Lay first crepe on a cake plate or serving platter. Spread with 1/4 cup of the yogurt-cream cheese filling. Repeat with all but the last remaining crepe, which should be stacked but have no filling on top, as it is the lid.

Make walnut butterscotch sauce: Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in the bottom of a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more frequently as it reduces and thickens. You’ll know it’s done when it becomes thick and smells toasty. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then walnuts. Immediately pour over stack of filled crepes, nudging the butterscotch to the edges with your spoon — if it goes over the edge, so be it.

Serve immediately, or keep in fridge until ready to serve. Crepe cake keeps for up to 3 days, possibly longer, but good luck with that.


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