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Banana Nutella Crepe Cake

A few years back, some friends of mine lived abroad for 6 months. They were a couple with (at the time), two young boys who were 4 and 6. They decided to live in India, and they chose Kerala. The place they lived in was pretty primitive–there were rolling electricity blackouts, and no oven, only a cooking top.

Well, this became an issue when it came time to celebrate one of the boy’s birthdays. How do you bake a cake with no oven? The answer: you don’t. Birthday cake, instead, became a crepe cake.

banana nutella crepe cake

What, might you ask, is a crepe cake? Well, it’s basically a stack of crepes with filling in between each layer.

Also known as Milles (thousand) Crepe Cake, this French confection is only limited by your imagination. The crepes basically create a blank canvas on which you can paint any kind of flavour. I’ve seen them done with matcha, layers of whipped cream, chocolate, fruit, you name it.

I chose a more classic combination for mine. Michael and I love crepes, and our favourite flavor combo is bananas and Nutella.

Instead of using actual slices of banana in this (which wouldn’t work with this delicate dessert), I made a kind of banana pudding or curd instead to go between layers of paper-thin crepes.

The impetus for making this recipe (which has been on my “to do” list for quite some time) was that I got a new crepe pan: the Anolon Advanced Bronze Nonstick 9-1/2-Inch Crepe Pan, in fact.

I have been slowly but surely replacing all of my Teflon pans with cast-iron or other kinds of pans that are not teflon. The problem with making something as delecate as a crepe, is that you really, really need a non-stick surface. If the crepe sticks at all, you are likely to wreck or tear it.

My new crepe pan, from Anolon, is made of hard-anodized nonstick, instead of teflon. It’s first of all, free of PFOAs, which are, we now know, not good for us, as they break down over the life of the pan, and may cause cancer. The other bonus of this kind of finish is that you can use metal utensils on it, which is good, because I like to use my ultra-thin Oxo Good Grips Fish Turner when I’m flipping the crepes. Alternatively, you could use an offset spatula, but you need something really thin.

One last thing I really like about this pan: the handle is really comfortable. It’s maybe not a big deal if you’re making soup or something, but when you’re making crepes, you are constantly picking up the pan and putting it back down, so a comfortable handle is important. This one is also heat-rated, so you can put it in the oven if you need to.

It took a little time to get used to using this pan, over my old non-stick one, but after making 20 or so crepes on it, I was actually really happy with the results. It made nice, thin crepes, with pretty even toasting, and didn’t burn.

My one complaint about the pan is that it wasn’t as scratch-proof as I’d have liked. After making a couple dozen crepes, there are small scratches on the surface of the pan from my spatula. It’s fine–it won’t affect the integrity of the pan–but it’s an aesthetic thing.

banana nutella crepe cake inside

Banana Nutella Crepe Cake

Ingredients:

  • 24 crepes (I used this recipe, but you could also go gluten free)
  • nutella
  • a double batch of Banana Curd
  • powdered sugar

Method:

  1. First, make the crepe batter, as it needs to sit for at least an hour or 90 minutes before you make the crepes.
  2. While the crepe batter is chilling in the fridge, make the banana curd.
  3. Finally, spoon some nutella (about half a cup) into a bowl, and warm it briefly (30 seconds) in the microwave. This will make it easier to work with.
  4. To assemble the cake, you have two options. You can either make all the crepes in advance, and store them between layers of waxed paper, or you can make the whole thing on the fly. I made mine on the fly, and found that the warm crepes were easier to work with.
  5. Place a crepe on your plate, then smear it with about 1-2 tbsp of nutella. Place another crepe on top of it, and smear that one with 1-2 tbsp of the banana curd. Repeat until you run out of crepes (or other ingredients). Top with whipped cream if you like, a drizzle of chocolate ganache, or a dusting of powdered sugar.

 

 

Sizzling Tandoor

I envy my friends who have a defined cultural background. I have friends who are Italian, Indian, Asian, and Jewish, they have these amazing family gatherings that include recipes and dishes that have been passed down through generations.

My mom came from a German family, and by all accounts, my grandmother was a wonderful cook, but she died when I was 3. My mom left home at the age of 16, and I remember her saying to me that she regretted not learning how to cook from her mother.

My mom was an amazing baker, but we never really had a cultural identity, other than Canadian. We are, like many in this country, a mish-mash of British, Irish, Scottish, and then German and Russian on my mom’s side. But we grew up on meatloaf and mac and cheese.

While it’s always made me a little sad that I don’t have a specific culture’s cuisine to learn from my family, it has also opened me up to exploring other culture’s cuisines. I love learning about cooking traditions, spices and dishes from other countries.

I recently got to have lunch at an Indian restaurant called Sizzling Tandoor in Victoria, and the feeling I left with (other than feeling really full and satisfied) was the wish to be able to learn how to cook like that from the restaurant’s chef, Narpinder Bawa.

Sizzling Tandoor is a family-run restaurant, and you can feel the love. It’s in the service, and it’s most definitely in the food. The restaurant is the “retirement plan” of Napinder and her husband, Gurinder. While Napinder runs the kitchen, Gurinder manages the front of house, and the long hours they put in have paid off. Sizzling Tandoor now has two locations in Victoria, and has been voted “Best Indian Food in Victoria” the last three years running by the Times Colonist.

This is Indian comfort food at its best, lovingly prepared, spicy, and rich.

kabuli naan

Our meal kicked off with a cooking lesson. We got to go back into the kitchen and watch Napinder make Kabuli. It’s a kind of sweet naan bread stuffed with fruit, nuts and coconut, then baked in the Tandoor (which is a very hot clay oven where they bake bread and also do skewers of meat).

sizzling tandoor mango lassi

It was a hot day, and the mango lassis (a yogurt-based drink with fruit) were very cooling.

sizzling tandoor appetizers

One of my favourite bites of the day were these Aloo Tikkis. Potato pancakes, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, topped with cooling raita and the most amazing mint chutney. There were, of course, also samosa, and (not pictured) delicious curried mussels, for an Indian-meets-west-coast kinda dish.

sizzling tandoor curries

Mains included a variety of curries, including lamb (Rogan Josh, with the flavour of mango), vegetarian, paneer (cheese) and, of course, butter chicken. The Tandoori Fish, however, was my favourite. The bright colours of the tandoori spices (from turmeric and paprika) and the extreme tenderness of the fish made it an absolute winner.

 

sizzling tandoor ice creamOur lunch ended with Napinder’s homemade ice cream: mango and coconut and, of course, a cup of chai.

Chai Tea

(recipe from Napinder Bawa)

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup water
  • one orange pekoe tea bag
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • sugar to taste
  • milk
Method:
  1. Bring water to a boil in a small pot on the stove, and add the tea bag.
  2. Add the chai spices, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add half a cup of milk, or as desired, and sweeten to taste. Bring to a boil.
  4. Remove from heat, strain tea to remove tea bag and masala; now enjoy!

If you are in Victoria, and looking for Indian food like your mom used to make, head over to Sizzling Tandoor. They’ll make you feel like one of the family, and feed you like you are one, too.

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