Production - Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen and Inemari Rabie

Photography - Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen

Copy Editing - Anna-Bet Stemmet

The French hold two things dear to their collective patriotic heart - la cuisine and la liberté. Food is absolutely fundamental to the French cultural experience - a far cry from mere sustenance, in France a meal is a sensual, sociable, twice-daily homage to the very aesthetics and flavours of life itself.   And then, of course, there is their well-publicised need for freedom in all things, from artistic expression to religious autonomy. After all, if it weren’t for the strident French Huguenots who fled to the Cape of Good Hope in 1692 due to religious persecution, South Africa wouldn’t have a wine industry to speak of! 

Freedom, in my opinion, is the ability to do what you want without the shackles of restrictions. It is the opportunity to take what you know and combine it freely with something more exotic to arrive at a brand new way of indulging yourself and those you love. So when Food & Home Entertaining recently commissioned me to give their readership a taste of traditional French favourites to celebrate Bastille Day, I happily set about combining the crêpe, the ultimate expression of French food elegance, with one of my childhood favourites - honeycomb chocolate.

My Honeycomb Crêpe Cake is an attempt to capture the essence of two vivid food-related memories. The first: the inimitable experience of savouring a Crunchie (a honeycomb-based South African chocolate) - breaking this boyhood treat into small pieces, allowing the chocolate to melt on your tongue and then having a minor moment as the caramel pops against your palate. The second: walking the streets of Paris with my dear friend Jackie Burger, stopping to share a crêpe with Nutella and then realising that we were fooling nobody and buying another one because it was just too good to share. We ended up walking around with crêpes the size of Vespa tyres oozing chocolate and roasted nuts.

The combination of the basic elements that make up these two vivid food-related memories resulted in a decadent gold-encrusted treat that has made me a very happy young man. Here’s to food, freedom and the ability to combine the best of both worlds!


Serves: 6-8

Difficulty: Medium

Preparation time: 2hrs 15min



  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) sugar 
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 225g (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
  • vegetable oil, to fry


  1. Mix the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk, add the vanilla pod and place over low heat until scalding.
  2. Sift the flour into a large jug, make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture. Add the warm milk and mix until the butter is free of lumps.
  3. Set aside to rest, about 1 hour. (Or store it in the fridge for the next day.)
  4. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add a drizzle of oil.
  5. Add a ladleful of the batter and tilt the pan to spread it evenly. Cook until the bottom is golden, about 1 minute. Flip and cook for another minute.
  6. Remove the crêpe from the pan and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the batter. 

Honeycomb cake


  • 300g sugar 

  • 100g liquid glucose

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) bicarbonate of soda


  1. For the honeycomb cake, grease a 26 x 10 x 8 cm loaf tin very well with cooking spray.
  2. Place the sugar, glucose and water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer until the sugar has dissolved (10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  3. Use a pastry brush with warm water to wash off sugar from the sides of the pot.
  4. Increase the heat to high and cook without stirring until the syrup turns golden. Rather swirl the pot if one side gets darker than the other.
  5. Mix the bicarbonate of soda through the caramel and pour out into prepared tin. Set aside to cool down.

Poached naartjies


  • 250 ml (1 cup) sugar
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 1 vanilla bean; scraped
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 1-2 naartjies, peeled and pith removed and separated

For the filling

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Nutella

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh cream


  1. While stirring continuously, heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Increase to high heat and boil until it reaches syrup-consistency, 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium heat and poach the naartjies a further 4-5 minutes.
  4. Remove the naartjies from the syrup and set aside.
  5. Remove the honeycomb from the tin, spread the Nutella in the hollow part of the honeycomb cake.
  6. Whip the cream to soft-peak stage and scoop onto Nutella.
  7. Spread a think layer of Nutella onto the crêpes and fold into roses, cut off the bottom half of the crêpe and arrange on the cream.
  8. Place the naartjie segments in and around the crêpes. Serve immediately.


Buy your copy of Food&Home July 2016 for the recipes to the rest of the HUMBLE BEGINNINGS feature.

Originally published 6 July 2016