I’ve had a love affair with crêpes since I was a little girl, which is when I learned how to make them. I would make a “stack,” sprinkle a little white sugar on them, and eat them just like that for breakfast.
My first introduction to crêpes was when my mother made Crêpes Suzette. My French friend Stéphane from My French Heaven gave me some interesting factoids about this fabulous, flaming dessert and crêpes in general!
♥ Crèpes Suzette is a recent thing: In the early 1900’s, Edward VI was having crêpes in a restaurant on the riviera. The chef had flambéed Grand Marnier with them. Edward asked the waitress what it was but she didn’t have a name for the dish. So the king asked what her name was, which was Suzette. They have been called crêpes Suzette ever since.
♥ As for savory crêpes, they are an ancient specialty from Bretagne. They are made with black wheat and are called galettes. Only the sweet ones can be called crêpes.
A galette with ham and egg
♥ You eat crêpes with apple cider always as they produce a lot of apples there (Bretagne is close to Normandy).
♥ The restaurants where they serve crêpes only are called crêperies. The best ones have a chef who is a Maître Crêpier.
Photo from Bretagne by Stephane Gabart
After seeing the above photo, I put Bretagne on my travel bucket list. Besides, I want to one day try the real deal in a crêperie.
There are many different recipes for crêpe batter, and I’m sure they’re all good. The only rule in making the batter for crêpes, to me, is the consistency. Once you have that, you get proper crêpes. If the batter is too thick, you get pancakes, if it’s too thin, you get mush.
Here is a basic recipe for crêpes, whether you’re going to use them in a sweet or savory manner:
Makes about 20
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons oil*
Couple pinches of salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
Whisk together the egg, milk, and salt together well in a medium bowl. Gradually add the flour, whisking gently but not over-whisking, until it is all incorporated and there are no flour lumps.
Set the bowl aside for at least 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t thicken. If it does, add a tiny bit of milk or even water to get the consistency back to where it should be.
To prepare to make the crêpes, have a well-seasoned crêpe pan on hand. Mine has angled sides and an 8″ flat bottom, made from steel. I’ve had it for 42 years. I know this, because my mother sent me off to college with the same pan!
Also have on hand some butter, the batter and large spoon (about 1/4 cup capacity is perfect), a spatula, and a plate on which to place the cooked crêpes. I always use a very sturdy but thin, flat spatula to help lift the thin pancakes.
Heat a little dab of butter over medium-high heat in the crêpe pan. I personally prefer butter because of the flavor. You might have to start with about a teaspoon of butter, and subsequently use about 1/2 teaspoon per crêpe.
Before starting, give the crêpe batter a whisk. Now is the time to test its thickness. Add a little liquid if necessary.
When the butter is hot, add a full spoonful, or approximately 1/4 cup of batter, to the pan. With the other hand, turn and tilt the pan until the crêpe batter has covered the whole bottom of the pan. Cook for no more than 30 seconds, then turn over gently with the spatula and cook for no more than 10 seconds. Place immediately on the plate by sliding or flipping over.
The cooked crêpe should be lightly golden, especially on the first side, but not browned. Adjust your burner setting accordingly, keeping in mind that if the heat is too low, the batter will just sit there and nothing will happen.
The pan has to be hot enough to “grab” the batter. If the pan is too hot, it will cause the batter to become bubbly and you probably won’t be able to spread it around. Sometimes the first crêpe is a dud because you must test the heat of the pan, and the batter.
Continue with the remaining batter.
These crêpes will hold well for a day or two, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator. Then you can use them as you want. They must be brought to room temperature first, or they will not roll or fold without breaking. Even a little
heating in the microwave will help make them more malleable.
Besides some sugar, crêpes are also good with a little jam and some berries!
* When I make savory or sweet crêpes I use olive oil, but if you prefer, you can use a flavorless oil. Also, if you want a sweeter dessert crêpe, you can add a little sugar to the batter.