6 large eggs
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole milk
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for serving
1 cup plain yogurt (I prefer Greek)
4 cups thinly sliced fresh strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
To make the crepes, whisk together the eggs, flour, milk, 2 tablespoons of water, the salt, and the butter in a large mixing bowl. Slick a medium skillet (8 or 9 inches across) with a little butter. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat until the butter just sizzles but does not brown. Scoop enough of the crepe mixture into the skillet to thinly cover the bottom, and immediately swirl the skillet to spread out the batter. Cook until set and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the second side for a minute or two until golden brown. Set aside on a plate. Continue making crepes until all of the batter is used up—you should be able to make about 6 large crepes. Stack them on top of each other as you go.
Heat the granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Add the mint leaves and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To make the filling, use a blender to puree the cooled mint syrup with the yogurt.
Put the crepe stack together by placing the first crepe on a serving platter, adding a layer of strawberries, and then drizzling the yogurt sauce over them. Add another crepe, and then another layer of strawberries, and so on until you run out! Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if you like, and garnish with mint leaves. Pour the remaining yogurt sauce into a small serving pitcher so people can add more if they like. Cut the stack into slices, and serve.
Applesauce Crepe Stack
For a winter version of the crepe stack, we omit the strawberries and make a quick homemade applesauce to use for the filling. Peel, core, and slice 4 large apples. Put them in a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover them. Dust with cinnamon, and simmer, covered, until the apples turn to a mush you can whip with your whisk. Let cool before using. Garnish the crepe stack with sprigs of fresh rosemary if desired.
About this recipe
Growing up, I had a wide variety of stunningly beautiful and dramatic birthday cakes that all had two things in common: they didn’t begin in a box and they had many, many layers. My mother baked from-scratch strawberry cakes, five layers of home-baked cake interspersed with five layers of homemade strawberry filling. Once assembled, the whole luscious stack would be frosted with two pounds of sweet butter into which cups and cups of white sugar and the very best Madagascar vanilla had been hand-whipped—because that’s how my family does it.
Or did it, I should say. Because when Mama finally realized that a cake like that might mean fewer birthdays, she decided to tweak our tradition.
My birthday cakes are still tall and homemade, only now the layers are thin crepes and the fillings are less sugary. And I don’t always wait for a birthday to whip up a crepe stack. Filled with fresh strawberries and minted cream or homemade applesauce, and garnished with herbs in place of frosting, the cake is six inches tall and looks gorgeous with or without candles.
It honors the cakes that Alberta, Joan, and Alice made, but it’s quicker than the old cakes, cheaper than the old cakes, and healthier than the old cakes. You can make it in an hour using tablespoons—not cups—of sugar and flour.
Reprinted from Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family. Copyright © 2015 by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Penny De Los Santos. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.