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Essentially there are a lot of variables in crepe making and over about 10 years of gradual experimentation one learns some of the issues. Here is my summary and I think it is a lot more useful than the recipe:
What we're doing
- Making the thinnest possible pancakes
- You are looking to produce a batter with a particular consistency and elasticity so don't fixate on quantities but learn the way it should look by doing a little experimentation of your own.
- It must flow over the pan quickly and easily to make a thin pancake so it must be very liquid.
- It must be very strong so that it will not break despite being thin.
- It must not stick when it cooks.
- If there are lumps (even small ones) the batter will not flow across the pan nicely.
- It should taste nice
- Use strong flour - bread flour is best. It is very effective to make the mixture the night before and leave it because it tends to get thinner whilst remaining strong - the effect is quite noticeable.
- Sieve the mixture after making it - it's the best way to get rid of lumps.
- Warm the mixture to the point where it does not feel cold to touch. If the mixture has been in the fridge or you have used cold milk and cold eggs then when it hits the pan it will tend to stick to it and trying to cook it will be a miserable experience.
- The desired consistency is very similar to runny cream. It's hard to get it right and from one day to the next I use different amounts of milk depending on the eggs, etc. So just start out being a bit conservative and make a couple of crepes and then add a bit more milk and try again. When you start making crepes that stick, wipe out the pan so it's smooth and oil it. Then mix up some flour with a cup of the now-too-thin mixture and then sieve that back in to thicken the batter. Next time you'll not push it too far.
- Rough guide to quantities: I use 5 large eggs to 300g flour and I discard 1 egg yolk. I add 50g sugar and about 2 tablespoons of rum. I start off with enough milk to mix comfortably and add more later till I get it nearly right but still a bit thick - this can be corrected the next day when one actually makes it (the batter thins overnight anyhow). This makes a lot of crepes but then I can't see the point of only making a couple.
- Use a pan that you can twist and turn easily with one hand when you are spreading the mixture - speed is important at this stage and you'll get tired with a heavy iron pan.
- Make sure that the pan has sloping sides - 90 degree angles make it impossible to get the crepe out.
- I like non-stick pans best - with a thick base if possible.
- Before you begin to cook, heat up the pan with some oil till it is just about to smoke and then wipe out the oil carelessly (i.e., don't try to scrub it all out) with a paper towel. With metal pans this is essential and I think it's worthwhile with non-stick ones too. Your first 2 crepes will be a bit oily but after that all will be well.
- Cook on a fairly high heat - it tends to make nicer crepes.
- This is almost too hard to explain and I haven't perfected it yet. Try to use the minimum amount of mixture - one will often end up with a few holes but this is more than compensated for by the wonderful texture of a soft thin crepe.
- I put the mixture into top right of the pan, tilt to make it run to the lower left, allow a "wide" puddle to form on the bottom left and then tilt the pan back to make the mixture run back across to the lower right - basically a kind of triangle.
- Alternatively, crepe spreading tools are available, although I've only ever seen them for sale in Brittany.
- The crepe is ready to turn when the surface looks matte (i.e., not glistening with moisture any more). Cook briefly on the other side. It usually takes 2-3 minutes for the first side to fully cook, fifteen seconds on the other.
- Stir the mixture occasionally because flour tends to fall to the bottom of the bowl, leaving the top part too thin and causing your last crepes to be too thick.
- Brittle crepes: add an egg to the mixture.
- Sticking crepes with thin mixture: these never dry out properly and tend to stick to the pan whilst being raw on top. There is not enough flour in the mixture.
- Sticking crepes with cold mixture: Naughty! make sure the mixture isn't cold!
- Use fewer yolks than egg whites - otherwise they will taste too eggy.
- A bit of brandy or rum to taste will make each pancake subtly better. A small amount of beer or sour milk also give a subtle flavour.
- Waste no time with butter - it can add flavor but it's just annoying because it tends to burn and if you keep your mixture overnight it will solidify and come out of the mixture. Just add a small amount of cooking oil to the batter to help prevent it from sticking.
Using a special crepe maker
If you use a special plate for Crepes as the most creperies do it you have to use another recipe since you manually spread the batter with a batter spreader (T-formed stick) on the hot plate. Therefore the batter must not to be that much liquid otherwise it will run down on the sides of the plate. The benefits of a separate crepe maker is the better control of the heat and it's more consistent than on a pan, also you can make thinner and bigger crepe as the size of a pan is bound to the hotplate it stands on. Traditionally you use a copper pan, the separate plate is a further stage of this tradition.
If you don't have a crepe maker but are interested in one then there are some things you should know. The cheaper plates have a very thin plate which is coated. Because the plate has almost no mass these versions are very lightweight but on the other hand the heat is not very consistent at the surface. Also a coated plate sounds good but it only makes the cleaning easier, making crepe on a coated plate is not that easy as it slips around on the surface and the coating maybe gets scraped off and then hanging on your crepe (you don't want to eat Teflon, do you?). These plates are cheaper because the materials and heating elements are not long-life components. They are okay if you use them only rarely. Just watch out you get a good cheap plate, that means only buy a plate that's even and has no hill at the edge (that hill preserves the batter from flowing over the plate but as you will use a batter spreader it is only a question of practice, otherwise you would use a pan and you would not have to buy a extra device) as it makes the turning of the crepe more difficult than an even plate. If you have some more money over you can spend in a proper crepe plate then please notice: These are very expensive, from around 350$ upwards. They have a solid cast iron plate and a progressive thermostat where you can set the exact temperature the plate should have. For personal use one of these devices will last a lifetime as these professional crepe makers are built from long life components. Because of the massive cast iron they are very heavy, a plate with a diameter of 40cm weights around 23kg. Also you have to burn the fat onto the surface before using, at maximum heat you have to rub it for half a hour with much oil and that will stink a lot so it should be done outside (believe me, it's no great work) but that gives it a coating that is way better than a Teflon coated plate because you only make crepe on it, if it becomes destroyed you can make a new coating and it supports the taste of the crepe. After that the cleaning of the plate is easy, you only have to clean it if it gets dusty or dirty and then you only have to use a wet cloth (never clean it with soap!).
A proven recipe is:
500 g of wheat flour
1 l of milk (do not use low-fat milk with under 3.5% of fat as the crepe will get fragile and dry)
50 g of melted butter
a bit of salt (If the batter should be more sweet then you can replace the salt with some vanilla sugar.)
If you like try to add other ingredients as described above but notice that the batter then is maybe no longer flavorful compatible with certain toppings. The ingredients get mixed, the batter wont get lumpy if you first mix the egg and milk with the salt/sugar and then slowly stir in the (sieved) flour and finally the melted butter. The batter has to stand about half a hour until you can use it. The less gas is in the batter the better the crepe will be so try to stir in as less air as possible. Don't keep that batter for too long without stirring it (for example overnight in the fridge) as it will split into its ingredients and gets gross.
- Regulate the temperature of the plate to 160°C if possible, if there is no temperature scale then you have to find out on yourself what is best suited. But as guideline the batter still should be liquid when you finished your first circular move of spreading.
- Wipe over the plate with a cloth you prepared with a bit of neutral vegetable oil so theres a very thin layer of oil on it. How often you have to repeat it depends on the plate you use but as a general rule every time before you put on the batter.
- When the plate reached the temperature, give the batter on the plate (depending on the diameter of the plate of course you have to use different amounts of batter, at a diameter of 35cm there are 125ml suited, at 40cm it's already 200ml).
- Quickly spread the batter with circling moves of the T-formed batter spreader across the plate but be carefull where the batter already became hard so you won't rip it off. This needs a bit of practice but do never scrub over the surface, the move must come out of the wrist in a flow and don't hold the stick too fast.
- The sides of the batter will arch up as it cooks and and you have to turn it over to cook the other side. For that you can use a special spatula that has a long thin steel or heat resistent plastic blade and no angled handle. It looks like a blade but it is not sharp so you can easily turn the crepe without cutting it and it will later help you to fold it.
- Once you have turned the crepe you can begin with garnishing it. If you want to use something very liquid as topping such as marmalade, juice or alcoholics then you shouldn't do this on the plate as the crepe gets soggy it may seep through and the plate will get sticky at these spots. Remove it from the crepe maker and then garnish it on a plate. If you want to fold it you should only garnish one half of the crepe because if you fold it then the filling may fall down in the fold making it harder to eat, liquid may flow out and the crepe may become messy.
- When the bottom starts to get brown spots it is ready. You can either take it as it is on a plate, roll it or fold it to a quarter or one sixth so it can be easily eaten even without cutlery. You should eat it right away if you don't want the crepe to cool down (and maybe the topping gets solid again for example if you use solid chocolate). The whole procedure takes approx 2-3 minutes, that's really not a long time, in most cases it will take you longer to eat than to make them.
Now you can decide whether you have to take it away sooner or maybe it can take a little bit longer, after all everyone has his own taste and some people like it softer and others like it more crispy. But hear my words, if the crepe gets too crispy (and that means dry) it is not so easy to eat it (you will understand if you have ever ate a dry cake without anything to drink). My personal favorite is when the surface got a bit crispy but inside it's still soft. Very popular toppings are chocolate creme like Nutella and different chocolate bars (especially Kinder Chocolate). When using solid chocolate just watch out that it is broken to little pieces which got spread over the crepe, never use too big pieces. Good ideas for serving is the crepe on a plate and topped with some powdered sugar, sweetened fruit pieces, ice cream or/and chocolate syrup. 188.8.131.52 21:21, 10 April 2006 (UTC)