I first saw this viral TikTok dessert recipe a couple of months ago. Since that moment, it hasn’t left my mind. This Crinkle Cake is made with sheets of phyllo dough and is an easy dessert that you can make at home. The best part of this crinkle recipe is the mix of textures it contains. It has a crisp top, a custard centre and a syrupy finish. The layers of phyllo dough form that “crinkly” effect on top that gives it its name. I added raspberries to balance out the sweetness and the result was great!
The origin of this recipe
This phyllo Crinkle Cake has its origin in a Middle Eastern dessert called Muakacha. The Arabic word Muakacha means “wrinkly” and it describes perfectly the crispy phyllo on top. This dessert’s popularity began with tiktoker Ramena. It’s because of her that this dessert is more popularly known as “TikTok Crinkle Cake”. She says it was a secret recipe she based her business on. I love to try new recipes all the time and this Crinkle Cake recipe was just screaming at me to make it. Traditional Muakacha has cardamom in it and has sprinkled pistachios on top. However, one of the nicest things about this recipe is how versatile it is for different toppings and flavours. The elements it must have are crispy phyllo layers, an easy custard filling and all of this topped with a simple syrup made with sugar and water.
Tips for working with phyllo pastry
Phyllo or filo pastry is thin dough sheets that you can buy at the store. You want really thin phyllo sheets that you can see through. Because it’s so thin and delicate, there are a few tips I want to share with you that will help you when working with it.
- There’s no sense in making your own as it takes lots of skill to get this much phyllo and this thin.
- You can buy it fresh at the refrigerated section or sometimes you will find it frozen. If frozen, thaw phyllo dough overnight in the fridge before using it. You can also thaw it at room temperature but you risk having the centre still frozen if not properly thawed.
- Keep your phyllo pastry hydrated as you work. Because it’s so thin, if left uncovered on a surface it will dry out pretty quickly and then break. You will not be able to work with it if this happens! As you work with the phyllo sheets, keep the rest wrapped in a slightly damp towel or cloth. If you have leftovers, place them back in their plastic packaging and refrigerate them this way.
Ingredients for the recipe
This Crinkle Cake has simple ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store. There are also many more ingredients that you can add or remove to get different flavour profiles. The main sections of the recipe are the phyllo sheets, the custard mixture, the simple syrup and of course the toppings we all love.
- For the phyllo layer
- Phyllo pastry: We already talked about phyllo at length and it’s of course a central ingredient in this crinkle dessert.
- Melted butter: You will almost always find butter or another type of fat used with phyllo. The butter hydrates the dough and prevents it from drying out and snapping. It also gives it a lovely butter flavour and helps it become golden brown in the oven.
- For the custard
- Milk: Milk will be the base of our simple custard. Ideally, use whole milk to get a very creamy custard. If that’s not your jam you can also use skimmed or vegetable milk if you prefer.
- Sugar: The sugar will add sweetness to the custard. I like to use white granulated sugar but you can opt for brown sugar as well.
- Vanilla extract: The vanilla extract adds that lovely subtle vanilla flavour we love. If you want a more intense flavour you can use vanilla paste instead.
- Eggs: The eggs are what make a custard a custard and congeal the mix as it bakes.
- Orange zest: I love the flavour that orange zest brings to this recipe.
- Other ingredients: A more traditional Muakacha also includes ground cardamom. 1 teaspoon would be enough! Of course, you can also add other spices that you like like cinnamon, ground cloves, ginger, etc.
- For the simple syrup
- Sugar: The sugar i heated and dissolved in a small saucepan to create a sugar syrup.
- Other ingredients: In a more traditional Muakacha you would also add rose water and orange blossom water. These ingredients can be very hard to harness so make sure that you’re using just a tiny bit if using at all.
- For garnishing
- Raspberries: I loved how the raspberries go in this recipe. It’s a syrupy recipe so it tends to be very sweet but the acidity from the raspberries adds a lovely tang that breaks through the sweetness.
- Pistachios: Chopped pistachios are a must in this recipe. They’re crunchy and extremely fragrant.
Steps for making this crinkle cake
Even though this Crinkle Cake might seem like it has lots of steps, they’re very simple. It doesn’t require a lot of hands-on work! The most labour-intensive part of the dessert is working the phyllo pastry at the beginning and you will get that done at the start. Here are the steps you will go through:
- First bake: For the perfect Crinkle Cake you need to first bake the phyllo pastry in the pan. To prep the phyllo we brush butter on a layer and use that to stick another layer on top. We repeat this with all the phyllo and then use our hands to crinkle the sections, making a loose accordion. Then, we place these forming a flower in a round pan or dish. In my case, I used a 28cm/11-inch diameter dish by Le Creuset. Don’t have the phyllo too tight or you won’t have any space for the custard. The remaining melted butter will get brushed on the phyllo. Now it’s ready for its first bake for 30 minutes or until it looks lightly golden.
- Custard and second bake: This is an extremely easy custard. You will mix all the ingredients and then pour the custard mixture onto the phyllo layers when they come out of the oven from their first bake. On top of the custard, you will place the raspberries, scattered evenly. Now, the Crinkle Cake will have a second baking time with the custard.
- Make sugar syrup: You will make sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar completely dissolves. Let it cool down as the cake bakes. Then, you will pour it onto the dessert as soon as it comes out of the oven to increase its absorption.
- Finishing touches: Once the Crinkle Cake absorbs the syrup you will sprinkle it with chopped pistachios.
Serving this Crinkle Cake
This Crinkle Cake is best served at room temperature. That makes it a good idea for a busy day! You can make it in the morning and have it ready to serve for lunch or dinner. It’s a delicious dessert that doesn’t require much more when serving. If you like, you can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top but it’s really not necessary. Everyone will be very impressed with this stunning phyllo pastry dessert!
Easy Crinkle Cake Recipe with Raspberries
For the phyllo dough
- 700 g phyllo dough previously thawed if frozen
- 150 g unsalted melted butter
For the custard
- 230 ml milk
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- Optional: add a teaspoon of ground cardamom or your favourite spices
For the syrup
- 100 ml water
- 180 g granulated sugar
- Other optional ingredients include rose water or orange blossom water, used in tiny amounts
- 120 g raspberries
- 100 g unshelled pistachios (half the weight for shelled pistachios)
For the phyllo dough
- Take one layer of phyllo dough and brush it with a thin layer of melted butter. Use the butter to stick another phyllo sheet on top.
- Use your fingers to crinkle the phyllo or create an accordion-like shape.
- Repeat this with all the phyllo pastry. As you work with the phyllo sheets, keep the rest wrapped in a slightly damp towel or cloth. This will prevent them from drying out.
- If using a round dish like me (I used a 28cm/11-inch diameter dish), place one of the sections of phyllo at the centre and wound it into a loose spiral. Work around it with the rest of the phyllo to create a flower-like structure. Don't make it too tight or the custard won't fit.
- If using a rectangular pan or dish (a half baking sheet is perfect), place the first section against the short side of the pan and then layer the other sections next to it, scrunching them up slightly.
- Brush the remaining melted butter on the phyllo in the pan until you use up all of it.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180℃/350℉ for 20-30 minutes or until lightly golden.
For the custard
- Whisk together all the ingredients while the phyllo bakes.
- Once the phyllo is ready, pour the mixture evenly onto it. Scatter the raspberries on top.
- Bake for a second time at the same temperature for 30-40 minutes or until it's evenly golden brown. You should also notice that the custard is not liquid at all if you shake the dish or pan.
For the syrup
- You need the syrup to cool down completely by the time the crinkle cake comes out of the oven, so make it during the first bake or at the start of the second.
- Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Once it breaks into a boil the sugar should have dissolved completely. Give it a mix and turn it off. Let it cool down completely.
- Pour the syrup evenly onto the crinkle cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Let the crinkle cake rest until it cools down completely as it absorbs the syrup.
- Shell and chop the pistachios and sprinkle them on top before serving.