Tik Tok Phyllo Crinkle Cake

The word “cake” is a bit misleading- this amazing flaky-yet-soft Crinkle Cake is more of a hybrid pastry!  This traditionally middle eastern dish started gaining popularity and fame on the interwebs thanks to  @Ramenasaidwow on TikTok.  Once you learn the easy method, there are endless possibilities for flavor riffs.  It can be served as dessert, but would also be totally appropriate as a brunch pastry.  And while you can eat it on a plate with a fork, at our house, we more often just pick up cooled squares with our hands!  It’s made with layered phyllo dough, an easy custard, and a simple syrup.  The result is crispy, buttery accordion folds of phyllo with soft, sweet center and a sweet, sticky top.  It’s SO GOOD.

finished slice of crinkle cake on a plate

Working with Phyllo Dough

If you’ve never worked with phyllo, it’s like thin sheets of paper!  You find them rolled up in a box in the dessert section of the freezer aisle. You’ll want to let it defrost overnight in the fridge.  The crinkle part of this recipe might be the most important, but I can speak from experience and say that even if you don’t really know how to crinkle, or if your phyllo ends up breaking all over the place and falling apart, you can still just kind of crinkle it up haphazardly and it totally works!

Step 1. Crinkle your Phyllo Dough

To crinkle, you’ll take two sheets of phyllo at a time and hold them up in the air by the shorter end.  You’ll use your fingers to fold/crinkle the phyllo up kind of accordion style, like the folds of a fan, only not so precise. It’s easiest to see this in action, so take a peek at Ramena’s TikTok, or my Reel on Instagram.  Continue this process until all your phyllo sheets are layered in the pan.  I find that precision is not the best tool here- I get the best results when the folds are kind of loose and inconsistent, so sometimes I even “fluff” them up before baking.

Phyllo Dough stacked in baking pan

Step 2.  Bake, Butter, Bake

When all the phyllo sheets are arranged in the pan, you’ll bake it for 10 minutes.  When it comes out, you’ll pour 2 sticks of melted butter over the top and bake for another 10 minutes.

pouring butter over phyllo

Step 3: Mix up a custard

While it’s in oven for the second time, mix up a simple custard.  You’ll need some milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  I highly recommend a little almond extract as well!

Custard ingredients

When the pan comes out of the oven it will still be quite light in color.  Immediately pour your custard mixture over the top and pop it back in the oven.

phyllo dough stacked in pan

This time it will stay in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.  You can see in the photos here that my pastry folds are NOT perfect by any means!  I actually photographed this twice and this photo above is from a time where my phyllo totally broke apart on me and this still turned out phenomenal.

Step 3. Make a Syrup

While your crinkle is baking, you’ll prepare a super simple syrup on the stove top.  It’s just sugar and water, plus a little lemon juice (the citric acid helps prevent crystallization)  and you’ll cook it for about 10 minutes while it cooks down and becomes thick.  You are aiming for the consistency of maple syrup.

simple syrup in pan

A good test is pouring a bit onto a plate, blowing on it to let it cool enough to touch, and it should stick a little between your fingers.

sugar syrup test

When the crinkle cake comes out of the oven, pour the sugar syrup over the top and watch it sink into all of those nooks and crannies.

pouring sugar syrup over phyllo dough

Step 4. Serve the Crinkle Cake

This is best served at room temperature.  Simply cut into squares and use a small metal spatula to serve. We honestly love to eat this with our hands!

finished baked crinkle cake

But you can certainly be a little more refined and use utensils.

finished slice of crinkle cake on a plate

You can see all of those beautiful folds in there.  There’s not an actual layer of custard, but rather the parts that absorb the custard are soft and the top browned parts are crispy and crunchy.  The sugar syrup adds a lovely chewy component.

finished slice of crinkle cake on a plate

How to Put a Spin on a Crinkle Cake

This basically begs for adaptations!  Try different extracts or citrus zests in your custard, or add cinnamon or chai spices.  The traditional version of this dish uses rosewater in the syrup and crushed pistachios over the top. I also think it would be great with fresh berries tucked into the folds before baking or even mini chocolate chips.  If you try a variation, let me know how it turns out!

crinkle cake on white plate

Tik Tok Phyllo Crinkle Cake

5 from 12 votes
This flakey, gooey cake is more reminiscent of a pastry, combining  phyllo dough, butter, sugar and custard to make a mouth watering, show stopping dessert that is deceptively simple!  Serve as a dessert, or a brunch pastry.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 package phyllo dough 2 rolls
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • CUSTARD
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract recommended, but optional
  • SYRUP
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Thaw phyllo dough completely in refrigerator overnight.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper (if desired).
  • Working with two sheets of phyllo dough at a time (stacked one on top of the other), hang sheets from your hands and gather/fold into a loose accordion about 1 inch thick. See this video for a demonstration.
  • Place in prepared pan, folds facing up, and repeat until all phyllo dough has been used. Lightly adjust/fluff your phyllo accordions as needed to make sure they fill the pan loosely with no dense folds.
  • Move pan to oven and bake phyllo only, for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and drizzle the melted butter evenly over the phyllo dough. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • During this second bake, prepare the custard by whisking together the milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Hint: a large measuring container or bowl with a spout is best for this step to ease pouring. Remove phyllo from the oven and pour the custard evenly over the top. Return to oven, and bake until the top is golden and crispy, about 30-40 minutes.
  • When the baking time is nearly up, prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer until some of the moisture has evaporated and the syrup has thickened (think the consistency of maple syrup-- if it's too thin it will result in a soggy cake).  This generally takes me about 10 minutes, but could take longer depending on the pan you're using.  Remove from heat.
  • When cake is golden and the 30-40 minute bake is complete, remove the pan from the oven and drizzle the warm syrup evenly over the top.
  • Allow cake to cool to room temperature, cut, and serve.

Notes

Customizations are welcome!  You could add different extracts, lemon zest, fresh berries or mini chocolate chips, just to name a few.
Keyword: Cake, custard, phyllo, Tik tok
Author: Sara Wells, inspired by @RamenaSaidWow
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was really easy to make. It was a totally new technique for me. Came out really well, and bordered on being too sweet. I almost have to wonder what it would be like with whip cream on top. The next time I make it I made double up the custard mix, and cut the syrup down by half. I liked how crinkly it was before adding the syrup. Overall I highly recommend it though, it was delicious. I liked it better cold, but I could see how somebody could tear into it right away!

  2. 5 stars
    OMG – delicious! Will definitely make again, but with much less sugar – I’d cut the custard sugar in half since you have a sugary syrup topping.

  3. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Word of caution – different brands of phyllo are different thickness! Athens – which I think is best is 40 sheets and one pound. Store brands – Safeway and Whole Foods are 18-20 sheets but also one pound. Sizes are slightly different but not significantly. One box of store brands does not fill the dish but one box of Athens is perfect. I mistakenly used two boxes of store brand to get 40 sheets – but it turned out to be 2 pounds! Not sure how it will taste – will find out tonight. This is great recipe and always delicious.

      1. 5 stars
        BTW – the two rolls of store brand (2 pounds) was terrible. Way too dense and heavy – we all had one piece and tossed the rest. Stick to Athens brand – two rolls equal one pound.

  4. Made several times. Last time I added mini chocolate chips in folds before first bake. Added 1Tbls Galliano and orange zest to custard. Topped with chopped pistachios after syrup. Delicious

  5. 5 stars
    I made it and will make it again. I think it will be a perfect brunch/holiday breakfast pastry. That’s really what it’s is…a wonderful pastry. I followed the recipe exactly. Next time, I’m going to make a few personal preference changes. I will omit the almond extract and the sugar glaze. I thought it was sweet enough without it and the almond distracted from it’s simple and wonderful flavor. Then I’m going to add blueberries to 1/3rd, almonds to another 1/3rd and finally mini chocolate chips the the last 1/3rd. I think that will cover all the palates.

    This is easy and excellent. Thank you for the recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is a winner! Made it last weekend and this weekend we are doing a cinnamon roll Halloween version for a party. Let you know how it turns out!

  7. Can I substitute crescent rolls for phyllo dough (our grocery store doesn’t carry it)? If so how much

    1. No, I’m sorry but that substitution wouldn’t work very well. This recipe is intended for Phyllo and I’d stick to that!

    1. I’ve never made it the day before so I’m not sure! You’d have to try it out and see. The top might loose a bit of it’s crunchiness, OR it might get better haha. Let me know if you try it!

  8. 5 stars
    WOW!!! Followed recipe pretty much as is but used a round spring form tin. Before concertinaing each two sheets i smeared some Nutella blobs along the bottom edge.
    The possibilities are now endless. Jams, preserves etc accompanied with fresh season fruit.

  9. Do you have to make it the day of? Or can it be refrigerated if you make it the day before?

  10. 5 stars
    Made this 3 times now. This last time I almost dbl the custard. It was fabulous. Also after drizzling the syrup over I stuck it back in the oven. Delish. Anyway you make this it turns out wonderful.

  11. 5 stars
    I did a larger dish for more servings. I added more custard to mine with adding a 3/4 of a can of condensed milk , and almond extract. It came out perfect and more dense !thank you for such a yummy dessert.

  12. What would happen if you added half more the custard? I was looking for a more cakey type crinkle cake. What do you think? I’m gobs try a cake for Thanksgiving!

    1. I think it’s probably better as written, I think with more custard, you’d lose the crinkle! But you could certainly try it!

  13. I used an apricot glaze and it was so amazing! This is such an easy yet delicious desert with a wow factor! Loveeee it!!!

  14. 5 stars
    We made this twice. First time we cooked the syrup too hot and it burned. We served it without. Second time did the syrup correctly. We decided we like it better without the syrup!

    1. Without the syrup it is a Greek Sofra. Only you stick blueberries between the layers, or I have put raspberries. Good either way. With a Sofra you butter the sheets before crinkling