Forget those heavy thick American pancakes and succumb to the deliciously soft, mouth melting, heart warming French Crêpes.
The word Crêpe is French for pancake and is derived from the Latin crispus meaning “curled”. Crêpes originated in Brittany (fr. Breton), in the northwest region of France, which lies between the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Crêpes were originally called galettes, meaning flat cakes. The French pronunciation of both words is with a short e, as in bed.
Around the 12th century buckwheat was introduced in Brittany from the east. Buckwheat thrived on the desolate and rocky Breton moors and is called “sarrasin” or “blé noir” (black wheat) due to the dark specs that are often found in it. Processed into a flour, this would be the flour used to make the delicious Crêpes. White flour crêpes appeared only at the turn of the 20th century when white wheat flour which formerly had been as expensive as sugar, honey or meat, became affordable to the masses.
The Catholic holiday of Candlemas in France celebrated every year on February 2nd, is a feast of crêpes that’s meant to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus known as Fête de la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or “jour des crêpes”.
Although popular throughout Europe and preferred over the American thick heavy pancake, Crêpes are experiencing a comeback in popularity. For breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a desert, there is no way to go wrong.
Ingredients (for 7-10 large paper thin crêpes)
1 cup of flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of melted butter
vegetable oil for frying
Strawberry jam or marmalade
Fresh assorted berries (optional)
Large skillet (preferably stainless steel)
Hand blender or mixer
Spatula or fork
Large measuring cup (4 cups) or glass bowl
Small ladle or 1/4 cup measuring cup
Crêpe spreader (optional)
1) In the large measuring cup or bowl crack the 2 eggs and add the sugar, salt, milk, flour, vanilla and butter. With the hand blender mix all the ingredients together until smooth. The batter should be fluid and runny without any lumps. Set aside.
2) Heat the skillet over high heat for about a minute. Lower the heat to medium and let the skillet lower its temperature for about a minute or two. Add about 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet and with the paper towel coat the interior of the skillet until you are left with a uniform layer of oil. Let the oil get hot for a second but do not let it smoke.
3) Now here comes the tricky part on how to make those paper thin crêpes without the spreading tool. If you have the spreading tool, skip ahead. With the small ladle or the 1/4 cup measuring cup spoon some of the batter. Grab with one hand the skillet by the handle and slowly pour the batter in the center of the skillet while tilting it in circular motion until covering the bottom completely with a thin layer of batter. If you’ve never done it, it takes a bit of practice to master this skill, but once mastered it’s a breeze. Depending on the size of your skillet it might need the entire 1/4 cup of batter or less to make a paper thin crêpe.
4) Because the layer is so thin, the crêpe cooks in a few seconds. A perfectly cooked ready to flip crêpe looks opaque on the top, wholes might start forming and the edges will get a bit colored. Once ready to flip with the spatula or the fork, gently peel one edge of the crêpe, lift and flip over the skillet, leave for 1-3 seconds, remove it from the skillet and place on a large plate.
Continue cooking until full batter is cooked. Batter can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.
TIP: Always add that bit of oil and coat the skillet with the paper towel in between cooking crêpes, to prevent it from sticking to the skillet.
To me presentation is everything!
Fill the crêpes by spreading 1 teaspoon of the strawberry marmalade on half of a crêpe. Roll or fold the crêpe in half and then 1/4.
Place 2-3 marmalade filled crêpes nicely arranged in a plate, top with the fresh fruits and sprinkle powder sugar on top.