I think this might just be one of my new favourite puddings. Recently, I saw a something labelled as a “croissant cake” in a local cafe and thought it sounded delicious, so set myself the task of writing a recipe for one. I’ve never tried a croissant cake before so was starting from a totally clean slate, and I’m pretty pleased with the final result – the first mouthful was a bit of an “oh my god” moment, if I do say so myself. There’s nothing difficult or skilled about this dessert – it’s just a delicious combination of buttery, layered croissants, tart summer berries and cherries, and classic vanilla custard. It’s very similar in principle to a bread and butter pudding, but presentationally, I think it looks great as a standalone cake. All you need to do is make the custard and then assemble the layers and bake. This makes it perfect for a dinner party recipe, where you need to be able to focus on the guests and the other courses, without too much extra work.
You need good quality vanilla for the custard, and it is really important to allow it time to soak into the croissants. This recipe is also a great way to use up croissants which are slightly past their best.
If you wanted to make the flavours more complex, you could add a slug of liqueur to the custard for that after-dinner finish. This cake will keep for up to three days in the fridge, but is best eaten on the day of making.
Line a 22cm spring-form cake tin with baking parchment. Make sure the paper comes all the way up the sides, to prevent the custard mixture leaking out.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream with the vanilla and milk until just below the boil. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they turn a pale yellow. Pour half of the cream and milk mixture over the eggs and sugar, and incorporate using a balloon whisk. Transfer the mixture back to the pan, to join the rest of the cream and milk. Stir gently with the whisk over a low-medium heat, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and keep the heat low.
Once your custard has reached the desired consistency, immediately transfer it out of the pan into a bowl. Place the bowl in a basin containing a few inches of ice cold water, to prevent the custard cooking further. If it has any traces of lumps, sieve these out for a smooth consistency.
Slice your croissants into halves. Place two whole croissant halves tightly in the base of the tin, and make up the rest of the circular base with quarters, so there is no paper showing. Make sure the base is entirely covered with croissant. This needs to be a sturdy layer – to squidge the base together tightly, place a saucer on top and weigh it down with a bag of sugar or similar, to really merge the layers together.
Dot a layer of berries throughout, and then add another layer of croissant. For this layer, tear it up into smaller pieces and push them all together. Repeat this layering process until you reach the top of the tin. Pour half the custard over the top, and allow it to stand for 10 minutes to absorb. Pour the rest over, and allow it to soak up for a further 50 minutes.
Pre-heat your oven to 160˚C, and sprinkle the top of the cake with flaked almonds. Place it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Leave it in the tin to settle for at least half an hour before serving – the custard needs to firm up and be totally soaked into the croissants.
Remove the spring form tin, and dust with icing sugar. Serve by the slice with scoops of vanilla ice cream, or just on its own.
If you have any left over, store it in the fridge wrapped in cling film or tin foil.