Thursday, June 30, 2011

When in France... Make Crêpes

My hiatus in posting recipes and reviews is fairly inexcusable, especially since I have three reviews backlogged just waiting to be published, but to make it up for you I have a recipe for something everybody likes: crêpes.

Crêpes, for those of you who don't know, are a large, very thin French pancakes made with a very liquidy batter.  They can be dusted with sugar and then lightly spritzed with rum or lemon juice, or they can be served with nutella or jam, or they can be filled with bananas, whipped cream, nuts, and such.  They are also sometimes served flambé, with Grand Marnier.  The possibilities are endless.

I have always preferred my crêpes simple.  I like them cooked to a nice golden color and served with sugar and rum.  I recently went to dinner at a restaurant here in Paris which only served crêpes, and the savory options were extensive and delicious.  It may sound odd, but my  crêpe had hamburger meat and was served with a fried egg on top.  Yummy!

I can't say when I ate my first crêpe, but I'm sure I was very young, since my grandparents live in France and I have been coming here for years to visit them.  This summer I find myself in Paris again, somehow at the same time as my older cousins.  Ironically, of all the cousins, only one of them is Parisienne and she now lives in Saigon, Vietnam.  The other two are from the Bordeaux region of France (famous for its wines) and have moved to Paris for work.  We got together the other night for raclette, wine, and crêpes.  This recipe for crêpes is my cousin's; I had actually never made crêpes before from scratch.

The recipe itself is very simple, likely stuff you already have in your kitchen, and once you made one or two crêpes, you get the hang of things pretty quickly and they start looking nicer and nicer.  Be warned though: these are best when eaten warm.  So have your company ready to eat them, or take a break between cooking every one or two crepes so that you can enjoy them while they're fresh.

Simple Crêpe Recipe
makes about 20

500g of flour (farine de blé)
1 liter milk (2% or demi-écrémé)
6 medium to large eggs (if extra large eggs, use only 5)
1-2 tbsp of melted butter or vegetable oil
optional: 2-3 tbsp orange flower water (also called orange blossom water)

Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl.  Create a little "well" in the middle of your pile of flour (like you would if you were making pasta) and crack the eggs into that well.  Beat the eggs into the flour until you have incorporated the flour fairly well.
Add the milk slowly, about 1 cup at a time.
Add the melted butter or vegetable oil and mix to combine.
Lastly add the orange flower water, if using, and stir to combine.  (Do not add this if you're making savory crêpes!)
Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature.  If resting the batter for more than 2-3 hours, put it in the fridge.  Stir well before using.
Lightly butter a very large, flat skillet.  If using an electronic range, keep your heat on high.  If using a burner, keep your flame medium high.
Once the pan is hot, lift it off the heat and quickly ladle a spoonful of the batter onto the skillet while tilting the skillet so that the batter runs over the entire surface in a thin layer.  Use the back of the ladle to help spread out any batter to cover "holes."  Be sure to do this part quickly!
Cook for about 3 minutes, checking the bottom for light browning.  Once it looks good (it's all about personal taste), flip the crêpe and cook for an additional minute or two.

Some people (like myself) prefer adding their condiments and folding the crêpe while it is on the pan.  Some people prefer putting the crêpe onto a plate before dressing it.  It's up to you.

This recipe makes about 20 crêpes, which is enough to serve 8-12 people for dessert, depending on their appetites.  Extra batter can be kept in the fridge and used the next day.  Be sure to allow the batter to come to room temperature and to stir before using!

Note: Because this recipe does not include sugar, these crêpes can be used for savory purposes as well as for dessert.  Common additions to savory crêpes are ham, cheese, eggs, and mushrooms.

1 comment:

  1. Crepes are always delicious! It has been my favorite breakfast foodie. I use this recipe because it's simple and easy. Enjoy!