Yes…it’s a time for some cake!
Today someone I am very fond of is celebrating a BIG birthday.
And I could not be more excited. Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams-Sonoma turns 100 today and I am helping the Williams-Sonoma family celebrate this milestone birthday!! I know, I know, how cool is that! I have to say that when I was asked to bake Chuck a cake, I was pretty flattered. If you’ve ever read anything about Chuck or have had the honor of meeting him than you know what a cool and unique guy he is. The things he has accomplished in his 100 year journey are pretty incredible, and I have to say he is a huge inspiration for me.
I took some time this week to really read about him and get to know him the best I could. I wanted to make him a cake that really represented bits and pieces of his life.
The thing is, Chuck is a simple guy. He likes simple things. Nothing fancy, just things that function well, serve their purpose and food that tastes incredibly delicious.
Originally, I had a grand 3-layer tiered cake planned. Each layer was going to represent a time in his life. it was going to be BIG and over the top. BUT after talking with a friend who has personally worked side by side with Chuck I realized that an over the top cake wouldn’t really be his thing.
I needed something simple.
Of course, you are probably looking at this cake and thinking, “simple? Yeah, right”. Well, yeah. I had simple in mind, but come on guys. You know me and my cakes, I like to make them extra special.
Issues I tell ya.
Actually though, this crepe cake is SO simple. It’s just pumpkin crepes, Nutella, vanilla whipped cream and on top…toasted pumpkin seeds. Total perfection right there. But then I got to thinking, I wanted to have a little more fun with this cake.
So I added a personal Sticky Chocolate Date Cake right on top with a pretty generous drizzle of Bourbon Caramel, cause I mean, how many people get to experience 100…it’s time to live it up!
In all seriousness though. I really put a lot of thought into this cake. In some way, each element of the cake relates to Chuck’s life and all of his kitchen discoveries.
P.S read all about Chuck’s finds here.
Where to start? Hmm, well?
The crepes! Maybe one of the coolest things I read about Chuck was his love for his trips to Paris. He really loved everything about French cooking. And with good reason, did you know that Chuck introduced the crepe pan to the U.S? He did, I thought that was pretty amazing seeing as I make crepes in my crepe pan almost weekly. I love my crepes!
Clearly, a crepe cake was a no brainer. But what flavor? I really wanted to tie some autumn flavors into this cake, so pumpkin it was!! FYI, I’m going all out with the pumpkin this year. Like no holding back or worrying about posting too much pumpkin. Pumpkin and I are just having a moment… and I am embracing it.
Since I wanted to keep the cake simple, Nutella was my answer and no one was complaining. You can never, go wrong with crepes + Nutella. Especially when the crepes are pumpkin and spiked with cinnamon. <–DO IT.
It’s the perfect European inspired dessert, but still fitting for the season. YES. Gosh, I love seasonal food.
But wait, what about all that stuff on top??
Right! That Sticky Chocolate Date Cake was inspired by the many years Chuck spent working on a date farm in California. The caramel was just kind of a spur of the moment thing. It just seemed fitting, and really, when is bourbon caramel ever a bad thing?
Ahh, that’s just a stupid question, of course it’s never a bad thing.
Oh, and I totally made homemade birthday candles out of homemade Rice Krispie treats. I’m babysitting Asher for the next few days and she begged me to make some. So I just used the leftovers and made them into candles. It was a fun idea, but I don’t recommend it. The heat from the fire, kind of re-melts the marshmallow. My candles just kind of keeled over. 🙁
Oh well, the cake was delicious and honestly pretty simple to make. You don’t HAVE to make the date cakes or the caramel…but you kind of should…if you have time. OR you could make the Date Cakes on their own without the caramel. Each of the elements of this cake are delicious both all together or on their own, so pick and chose what you’d like to make…or just make them all.
My one really important tip when making a crepe cake is to keep the cake well chilled and the layers thin. This is KEY to creating a successful cake.
And finally, I think that pumpkin and Nutella may just be a favorite combo of mine. If you have yet to try the two together, this is the weekend (hello, it’s also the first weekend in OCTOBER!).
For the topping, I made candied pumpkin seeds. If you’re thinking they must be difficult, they’re not, they are actually so easy and SO GOOD!
Pumpkin Nutella Crepe Cake.
Pumpkin Crepe Cake
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk I use 2%
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup water + plus more if needed
- 1 cups jar Nutella or 2-3
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup pepitas toasted
To make the crepes, add butter to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk constantly until brown bits appear on the bottom, about 5-6 minutes, then immediately remove from heat and set aside. Combine all the remaining crepe ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add the browned butter and pulse for 30 seconds or until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Heat a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add butter or cooking spray (I like to use cooking spray) to coat. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook another 10 seconds and then remove the crepe to a plate, spread a little butter on to the crepe while it's still warm. Continue to make the crepes until all the batter is gone, spreading each crepe with butter as it comes off the stove. Makes about 24 crepes. Allow the crepes to cool completely before assembling the cake.
Working with one crepe at a time, spread a layer of Nutella over the crepe. Place the crepe onto your cake plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes until all the crepes have been used. I like to spread the crepe with Nutella BEFORE adding it to the cake stack. I find it is much easier to keep the cake straight this way. Once all the layers are assembled, cover the cake and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Once the cake is well chilled, add the heavy cream to a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip until stiff peaks form. Stir in the vanilla. Spread the whipped cream over top of the cake. Place the cake back in the fridge for 15 minutes or until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with the chocolate date cake (recipe below), drizzle with caramel (recipe below) and then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
In a dry, large deep heavy skillet cook the sugar over moderately high heat, stirring constantly with a heat proof rubber spatula until the sugar is melted and turns a deep golden caramel, remove the skillet from the heat and add the chunks of butter one by one, whisk until combined. The caramel will bubble, this is ok. Now slowly add the cream and then whisk until combined. Return the pot to the heat and, cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring until the caramel has thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, if using, add the bourbon + a pinch of salt. Set the caramel aside to cool before drizzling over the cake.
Chocolate Date Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 6 (8 ounce or larger) ramekins and place on a baking sheet.
Place the milk and dates in a small sauce pan set on low heat. Warm the mixture until the milk is steaming. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until combined. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and the chocolate mixture alternating between the two until both are gone. Mix until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until just set in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Then carefully invert the cake onto a plate. Let cool slightly before adding to the crepe cake.
But really, those layers…the pumpkin crepes…so much goodness…and on a Friday too!