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January 20, 2021

French Crêpes

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French Crêpes

I was showing my son’s friends how to make French Crêpes the other day. His friends have been eating crêpes at our house for years and I finally convinced this group of four 17-year-olds to let me show them how to make them. I told the boys that knowing how to make crêpes is a skill they can use in college and for their own kids one day. We had so much fun together in the kitchen, and they couldn’t believe how easy it is to make crêpes. One boy said, “They seem so fancy, I thought it would be hard to make them.” Another boy said, “They’re so much better than frozen pizza for my snack.” I was beaming, and you will too when you see how French Crêpes will be one of your most delicious and healthy ideas for quick meals.

Crêpes are not only delicious, they are also your secret weapon to easy dinners. Yes, they can be for dinner, not just for breakfast. Warm crêpes in the oven with your favorite filling and dinner is ready within minutes. Crêpes are also a terrific value and wholesome. The ingredients—milk, flour, and eggs—are inexpensive compared to carry out or prepared foods, and you will know exactly what is in them versus deciphering a label looking for additives and preservatives in a product. When you add this recipe to your family menu, it’s a breeze to make a wholesome homemade meal your family will swoon over.

I learned the secret to making the perfect crêpes twenty years ago from a French chef named Marie. She taught me the secret to making great crêpes is to focus on the consistency of the batter and not the exact measurement of milk and flour. I confirmed this theory years later by asking my in-laws and friends in France and another French chef for a recipe for crêpes, and everyone said the same thing, “I don’t have a recipe, I just make them.”

The key is to add enough milk to the flour to create the right consistency of batter. The batter should have the consistency of heavy whipping cream, and like Chef Marie said, “The batter should fall off the ladle like a ribbon.”

It is difficult to give an exact recipe because the type of milk, flour, and even the size of your eggs can make a difference. You’ll find hundreds of recipes for French Crêpes online, but the goal is the consistency of the batter. Since I never measure the quantities of flour and milk, I made three batches of crêpes so I could measure and give you a guideline. Start with these quantities and watch this video to learn more about creating the right creamy consistency.

  • Author: Caterina De Falco
  • Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Scale

2 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 cups flour

2 Eggs

Butter

Makes about 15 crêpes.

Instructions

Instructions to Prepare the Crêpe Batter:

1. Add the flour to a bowl. Using a whisk, make a small well in the center of the flour.

 2. Crack the eggs into the well and whisk the eggs and flour just until combined.

 3. Add about 1 cup of the milk and whisk the milk, eggs, and flour until they are well combined. The batter will be thick like cake batter.

 4. Add the rest of the milk and whisk well. The goal is to have batter that has a consistency slightly thinner than heavy cream. Again, as Chef Marie told me, “The texture should be like cream and flow like a ribbon off the ladle.”

 You can use the crêpe batter right away, but when it sits for at least an hour any lumps from the flour dissolve. To save time make your crêpe batter the night before or in the morning and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Crêpe batter has raw egg so it will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days. When the batter sits it will separate and may thicken a bit. All you need to do is whisk it and add more milk and it is ready to cook.

Instructions to Cook Crêpes:

 5. Heat an 8- or 9-inch nonstick frying pan or crêpe pan over medium-low heat and lightly coat with butter. Only a tiny amount of butter is needed; I use about 1/8 of a teaspoon. The butter should sizzle in the pan, but not turn dark brown. If the butter browns reduce the heat.

 6. Using a ladle, pour just enough batter in the pan to evenly coat it, about ½ - ¾ of a ladle. Crepes are thin not thick like pancakes. Swirl the pan around in a circle to distribute the batter. If there a few empty spots add more batter over the spots. If the batter doesn’t swirl easily, it is too thick. Add a little more milk.

 7. Cook each crêpe for about 2 minutes. When the sides start to curl up, use a spatula to flip it. Cook on the other side for less time, about 1 minute. The crêpe should be nicely browned but not too dark.

 8. There is a famous saying that the first crêpe is for the chef because the first crepe often sticks to the pan. Once the pan is well seasoned with butter and heated, the cooking process goes more smoothly.

 9. Continue to make more crêpes by adding another small amount of butter and the crêpe batter. You may need to adjust the heat down as the pan gets hotter. If the butter browns when added to the pan, reduce the heat.

 10. Add your favorite topping to the crêpe, fold, and enjoy. You can find serving ideas in the notes below.

 Tip: You can make enough crêpes for your meal then store the leftover batter in the fridge and make the rest of the crêpes later and freeze those. Watch this video to learn how to store and freeze crêpes.

 Watch the video here 

Notes

Making crêpes is a fun family activity. Make a batch—or double batch with your kids and freeze the extra. You will bond and have an easy dinner at your fingertips.

cast iron crêpe pan is worth the small investment.  If you don’t have one, a small frying pan and thin spatula will work. You can also use the crêpe pan to make Socca. 

Serving Ideas:

Savory Crêpes

Ham and gruyere cheese—place the ham and cheese on the crêpes and warm in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve open face or fold in half.

Mushroom, gruyere, and truffle oil—place the mushrooms and cheese on the crêpe and warm in the oven until the cheese is melted. Remove the crêpes from the oven and add a slight drizzle of truffle oil. Start with a very small amount of oil because it has an intense flavor. You can always add more. Serve open face or fold in half.

Leftover chicken and cheese—place the chicken and cheese on the crêpe and warm in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve open face or fold in half.

Pesto and ham—spread the pesto on the crêpe, add the ham. and warm in the oven for about 3 minutes. Serve open face or fold in half.

Boursin and ham—Spread Boursin cheese on one half of the crêpe. Add ham to the other half. Fold in half or roll. These are great for school lunches.

Boursin and smoked salmon—Spread Boursin cheese on one half of the crêpe. Add smoked salmon to the other half, fold in half or roll. These are great for school lunches.

One leftover crêpe rolled with your filling of choice and sliced into 1-inch pieces makes a great apéritif.

Sweet Crêpes

Italian Hazelnut Spread—Spread the hazelnut spread on one side of the crêpe and fold in half and then again. For the French technique of folding a dessert crêpe.

Fruit Soup and Fresh Cream—Spoon the fruit soup onto the middle of the crêpe, fold the side in to meet in the middle. Top with homemade whipped cream.

Fresh Berries and Cream—Spoon fresh berries onto one half of the crêpe and fold in half. Top with homemade whipped cream.

Jam—Spread your favorite jam on one side of the crêpe and fold in half then in half again.

 

 I often cook "au pif", as we say in France, which means without a recipe.  You’ll find this style of cooking helps you cook faster and makes cooking easier. With many recipes, you don’t need exact measurements, just a little kitchen intuition.

Write to me if you have any questions on the recipes.


Copyright 2019-2022, Return to the Table by Caterina De Falco, All Rights Reserved

Hazelnut Spread

Instead of buying a processed chocolate spread, melt quality chocolate in the middle of the crêpe.  However, if you want to buy a chocolate hazelnut spread, consider these two options.  A high-quality hazelnut spread from Italy or France.  While they do contain some additives, they are healthier options than most.  

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