Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Fancy Kid Lunch: Gateau De Crepes with Peanut Butter and Jam
Lunch is normally a rushed affair in our house. Since Matthew started preschool, we normally go about doing chores and running errands in the morning before he starts school at 12:30. Inevitably, everything normally takes a tiny bit longer than I anticipated and I can usually be found frantically slapping peanut butter on a piece of bread with half a sliced banana and encouraging Matthew to swallow it whole while putting on his coat, shoes, and backpack. Emma normally spends the entire trip to school begging for something to eat. Unfortunately, she has to wait until we drop Matthew off and head home. Thankfully, we live right around the corner from the school so she only has to wait a whopping 10 extra minutes or so.
In addition to being rushed, lunch is normally messy. Matthew is not so terrible, but Emma is in a stage where she feels the need to deconstruct everything I give her. Whenever I make her a sandwich, she normally separates all the filling from the bread and puts them in neat little piles in the various corners of her tray. Then, she will proceed to lick the mayo/peanut butter/what have you off the bread pieces. After that task has been completed, she will systematically eat each pile of filling - usually starting with cheese (if there is any), followed by any meat, and finally any vegetables. Finally, she will eat the bread - but leave the crusts behind in little mangled pieces. This practice is especially messy with PB&J. After lunch, Emma is almost always in need of a bath.
On the days when Matthew does not have preschool, we like to shake things up a bit and maybe do something a little more unexpected. Especially since we are stuck inside all day anyway, I like to make lunch a bit of a project - one where the kids can get involved too. So, we have been having a "fancy lunch day" where we make something a little more involved. Sometimes it is a lot of fun and the kids enjoy helping out and other times I ask myself why I get these brilliant ideas in the first place since the execution of them ends up being so gosh darn painful.
Today, we made a Peanut Butter and Jam Gateau De Crepes - a fancy name for a basically a big stack of crepes. My kids love pancakes and we always have PB&J, so I knew this would be something they would love. The trick was whether or not all three of us would have the patience to stand around and make about 20 crepes before assembling the gateau. However, much to my surprise, we did. The kids were great. I think one of the reasons was because we had to use the blender to make the crepe batter. The kids are in love with the Vitamix - Emma practically gives me a standing ovation each time I bring it out of the cupboard. So, the batter took about 10 seconds to mix up and then came the tedious part - the cooking of the crepes. Crepes can be a bit finicky. The first one is normally a throwaway since you have to adjust the heat of your pan after the first one fails to cook properly and then the rest normally turn out great. The trickiest part is flipping them without breaking them. I do not own a crepe pan and unfortunately the skillet I use has higher sides, making it a little more difficult to turn the crepes. Luckily, I have lots of practice so this part was not as tedious as it could have been. Also lucky for me, Matthew was great at keeping an eye on them for me until he "saw bubbles on top" and told me they were ready to flip. In no time, we had all the crepes we needed to build our gateau.
We got out our fancy cake stand and put one crepe down. I spread a bit of melted peanut butter (maybe a tablespoon) over the top and then carefully placed a second crepe on top. A bit of warm, melted jam was spread onto this second crepe and then a third crepe was added to the stack. We repeated the layers until all the crepes were gone and we had a "leaning tower of crepes" oozing with peanut butter and blackberry jam. Emma helped place some sliced banana over the top and more peanut butter and jam was drizzled over the top. A healthy dusting of powdered sugar and the gateau was ready for eating! The kids were so excited. They "oohed" and "ahhhed" as we sliced into our crepe cake - revealing all the fancy layers within. And then, after I had served them each a generous slice, there was a glorious silence as they ate! They loved it so much that they actually ate without a complaint, a comment, a conjecture, an utterance! This is a rare occurrence indeed. Then, when finished, both children asked for another slice. In fact, our tiny little 8-inch gateau was gone within a matter of minutes. And surprisingly - Emma was a lot cleaner than she normally is after lunch. Maybe it's because she was using a fork and knife like a lady.
This is definitely not an everyday lunch by any means, but it is fun to make something "fun" and "fancy" for lunch every now and then.
Gateau De Crepes with Peanut Butter and Jam
Note: I had the idea for this gateau after watching Hubert Keller make a blueberry and cream cheese crepe cake on Secrets of a Chef on CreateTV one night. For our take on Gateau De Crepes, I used a standard crepe recipe that I've had written down for forever and am unsure of the source.
1 cup white whole wheat flour (recipe calls for all-purpose but we've been rockin' the wheat lately)
2 cups milk (any type)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons of butter, chopped into small pieces (or you can use nonstick cooking spray)
1/2 cup peanut butter, warmed so it is drippy
1/2 cup jam, warmed so it is spreadable (we used blackberry)
1 banana, sliced
In a blender, combine the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and salt. Process until completely smooth.
Heat a small, 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add one of the butter pieces and swirl around to coat the pan. Add in no more than 1/4 of batter and swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Let cook until the bottom of the crepe is firm and bubble appear over the top. It will be easiest to flip when done. If it is not completely done, it will easily become mangled as you wrestle to get it to flip. Just let it do it's thing and wait until it flips easily. Once flipped, cook for about 30 additional seconds. Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining butter and batter. I like to layer the cooked crepes between paper towels so they do not stick together and are easily separated when it comes time to assemble the gateau.
When all the crepes are cooked, place one crepe on a cake stand. Spread with a thin layer of peanut butter. Put another crepe on top. Spread with a thin layer of jam. Repeat the layers until all the crepes have been used. You can use as many crepes as you like. I had several crepes left over and ended up freezing them for later use (they freeze very well when stacked between sheets of wax paper). Top the gateau with sliced bananas and drizzle with the remaining melted peanut butter. Add a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Slice like a cake and serve!