Gâteaux de crêpes, Torta di Crispelle, Pancake Gâteaux Recipe for a hot and cold maincourse/party dish.

Despite the name gâteaux de crêpes, I first found the idea for a pancake gâteaux in an Italian cookbook and have always known it as Torta di crespelle. In France it is often seen, layered with smoked salmon and seafood on a Wedding banquet menu. Our local organic butcher produces them, ready-made for the traditional New Year's Eve dinner and by an amazing co-incidence I ate one last week at a retirement get together.  It's an impressive looking dish, of anything from 8 to 20 pancake layers, sweet or savoury, hot or cold and guaranteed to get a few oohs and aahs from the guests, even though it's normally purchased and yet it is one of the very simplest of dishes to make.

Organic recipe Gâteaux de crêpes, Torta di Crispelle, Pancake Gâteaux

Organic recipe Gâteaux de crêpes, Torta di Crispelle, Pancake Gâteaux

Mont Saint Michel from Le Moulin de MoidreyJust down the road and around the bay is Brittany, with a crêperie on every corner and considered as the spiritual home of the pancake. In Breton restaurants they serve the crêpe, wheat pancakes for dessert and the galette or buckwheat pancakes, with savoury fillings. Yet for all that, pancakes and therefore probably the pancake 'cake' started life in Italy, in the Vatican to be precise. According to legend, Pope Gelasius is supposed to have ordered simple, flat, fried 'cakes' to be served to hungry French pilgrims, who had travelled to Rome to celebrate the feast of Candlemas. This festival of lights, which marked the end of Old Christmas, was itself a transformation of the earlier feast of Lupercalia, which was later to become la fête des crêpes in France.

Le Moulin de Moidrey - working windmill
So under the inspiration of the windmill from which the above photo was taken, as it gently milled organic buckwheat flour for a whole flock of galettes, I will proceed with the ingredients:
200g - 1⅔  cups - 7 oz of plain white flour
2 or 3 eggs depending on the size
500ml - 16 fl.oz or just under 1 pint of milk ( we use rice or raw)
salt and pepper to taste


Make a well in the flour and drop the eggs into it, working inwards with a fork or hand mixer to incorporate the flour and form a smooth paste. Slowly add the milk, whilst continuing to mix and thereby preventing the batter from becoming lumpy. Season to taste and leave the batter to stand. This process allows the air to escape, thus avoiding holy pancakes. If you have the time, you can leave the batter in a cool place overnight but otherwise try to set the batter aside for at least 15 minutes before using. This mixture makes from 10 to 16 pancakes, depending on the size of the pan but there are no real set rules in this dish, even six pancakes with substantial layers of filling will make an impressive cake.

Put frying pan on hot plate, melt a knob of butter in pan, coat base of pan with melted butter. Using a soup ladle pour some mixture into the frying pan, whilst using the other hand to move the batter until it thinly coats the bottom of the pan. 

Leave to cook but use a spatula to lift the batter at the edges, now and again, just to see how it is progressing. 

pancake made with organic raw milk

Turn the pancake over using a spatula or, if you are feeling brave, flip it over with a quick flick of the wrist. As you can see above, we needed this particular batter in a hurry and had no time to leave it to repose, hence the tell-tale tiny holes. 

Pancakes made with organic raw milk
Store the pancakes in the warming drawer, unless of course you are making a cold pancake gâteaux . 

I like to make a mixture of cold and hot fillings usually salad vegetables, from the garden with layers of lightly fried prosciutto or Parma ham or jambon de Paris. This makes for a very chic dinner party presentation.

Organic Parma ham heel 

The paradox being,  I can get the heels of both hams, i.e. the bits that will no longer go into the slicer or make elegant cuts, from my organic butcher for less than a quarter of the usual price.

Et voilà, a dish that looks impressive enough to suggest you spent hours in preparation.  I usually put my cake together at the last minute, that way the salad stuff stays crisp and fresh even though surrounded by warm pancake. Delicate items such as nasturtiums, lettuce and other such edible flowers and leaves are better left to crown the whole. 

Gâteaux de crêpes, Torta di Crispelle, Pancake Gâteaux including cooked sweet potato leaves

You can have great fun with this recipe playing with flavours, colours and textures. My finished version above, includes two layers of one of our favourite home-grown exotics - sweet potato leaves, these have been lightly sautéed in butter with a little red onion.

Hope you enjoyed this recipe, please share and if you have any, comments, questions or observations, do not hesitate to ask.

All the very best and thanks for dropping by, Sue

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© 2014 Sue Cross

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