Sky-High Pumpkin Crepe Cake with Orange Cream

This centerpiece dessert requires some time and patience, but it’s a beauty: 24 crepes layered with a fluffy orange filling and topped with a pile of candied orange zest. Plus, it makes an awesome post-Thanksgiving breakfast.
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sky-high pumpkin crepe cake with orange cream

Recipe by Janet Taylor McCracken

Irrezestible! Sweet-tart candied orange peel is the perfect garnish for this fancy dessert. Use any leftover peel as a cocktail garnish, or dip it in melted dark chocolate for a special treat.

Start to Finish: 2 hours (plus chilling)

Servings: 8

Ingredients

Crepes

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin

  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. ground allspice

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • Grapeseed or vegetable oil, for brushing the skillet

Topping and Filling

  • 2 oranges—1 whole, 1 zested (about 2 tsp.) and juiced (about 1/3 cup)

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

  • 1 stick butter, cut into cubes

  • 2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)

Preparation

1. For the crepes, place all the ingredients, except the oil, in a blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate the batter for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day. 

2. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium. Brush lightly with oil. Add about 3 tbsp. (a scant 1/4 cup) of the batter and immediately swirl the pan to coat the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the skillet. Cook until the edges are browned and the batter on top turns a lighter orange, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned, about 30 seconds more. (If you flip the crepe too early, it will not turn easily.) Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. (You will have about 30 crepes but need only about 24. If you’re like us, you’ll mess up a few. But don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty.) 

3. For the topping, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel (only the orange part, not the white pith) from the whole orange, then cut the peel into long, thin strips. Add the strips to the saucepan. Boil for 1 minute, then drain. Add fresh water to the pan. Bring to a boil. Boil the strips again for 1 minute, then drain well. In the same saucepan, bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add the orange strips. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer until the orange strips are translucent, about 15 minutes, then drain. In a small bowl, toss 1/2 cup sugar and the orange strips, using your fingertips to separate and coat the strips with the sugar. Let the strips, covered with the sugar, stand at room temperature until crisp, about 2 hours. 

4. For the filling, in a large saucepan, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the egg yolks, 2 tsp. orange zest, 1/3 cup orange juice, and the lemon juice over medium heat, stirring constantly (do not allow it to boil), until your finger leaves a solid path on the back of the spoon when drawn across it, about 5 minutes. Strain into a large bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the orange curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. 

5. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and orange liqueur until stiff peaks form. Working in 2 batches, fold the whipped cream into the orange curd for the filling. 

6. Place 1 crepe on a serving plate. Spread with 1/4 cup of the filling. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling until only about 1/2 cup of the filling remains. Insert 4 bamboo skewers into the cake to hold it in place. Cover the cake and the remaining filling separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. 

7. Remove the skewers. Top the cake with the remaining filling. Garnish with the candied orange zest.

Make it Ahead: The candied orange zest can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Cover and keep the zest at room temperature. The cake can be made through Step 6 up to 2 days ahead. Top with the reserved filling and zest just before serving.