A crêpe is a thin pancake. The French word is from the Latin root crispa meaning "curled", from which the English word "crisp" is also derived. It originates from Brittany, a region in the west of France, where it is traditionally served with cider. Historically, they were cooked on flat rocks (hence the name). Crêpes are usually of two types: sweet or savoury, the main difference is the flour used (plain flour or buckwheat flour respectively). They may then be rolled or folded, and filled with different ingredients. Depending on the filling ingredients, filled crêpes can be either a dessert dish or a main course.
This recipe for sweet crêpes is an easy one to start with (for about 20 crêpes):
- 220 g (1 cup or 8 oz) plain flour
- 345 ml (1 ½ cup or 12 fl oz) milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp oil or melted butter
- 1 pinch of salt
The exact proportions are not critical. In practice, equal parts by volume of eggs, milk, and flour, measured by eye, with no other ingredients, still produces excellent results.
An easy variation to the recipe is:
5 eggs 1 cup of flour 1 cup of milk
Cheesy crepe: Sprinkle Emmental evenly while in the pan.
One can also substitute beer or soda water for the milk. The wheat flour can be replaced by buckwheat flour to make salted versions of crêpes, as a main dish (ham, cheese, etc.).
- Put the flour at the bottom of a mixing bowl and make a hole in the middle where you put the eggs, the melted butter, the salt and a bit of milk.
- Mix well by hand (traditionally, you actually use your hand to avoid incorporating air) slowly combining with the flour, you should get a thick paste. Then continue mixing and slowly add the rest of the milk, mix well to avoid making lumps. You may add a bit of liqueur (traditionally brandy or fleur d'oranger) for more taste. Allow to stand, perhaps for several hours whilst the flour gluten rests - very important to the final texture.
- Heat a crêpe pan (non-stick recommended), grease it with some butter, and pour some batter while rolling the pan to make the crêpe as thin as possible (8 finished crepe might add up to a stack 1/4" or 6mm thick). A drop of water can be used to test the pan temperature: too cold, and the water will sit on the pan, too hot and it will vanish immediately. At the right temperature, the water will seem to "dance" on the pan.
- Cooking may take 30 to 60 seconds until the cooked side looks like the surface of the moon, then turn it over to cook the other side; with some practice, you can flip it in the air by swinging the pan. See the whole-wheat pancakes recipe for air-flipping instructions.
Serve with maple syrup, caster sugar, jam, spreads, etc.
Crêpes can be filled and folded into triangles or rolled up.
Some tasty fillings include:
- sugar and lemon
- raspberry jam & chocolate sauce
- nutella & sliced banana
- nutella & chopped hazelnuts
- whipped cream
- chocolate, caramel or butterscotch sauce
- peanut butter
- sugar and butter, possibly with lemon or cinnamon
- strawberries, fresh or frozen
- cream cheese and brown sugar
- slivers of chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce
- wrapped around a frankfurter (See cheesy crepe above)