Why don’t people make crepes more often? After all, they are easy to prepare, endlessly versatile and easy to rustle up with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and fridge. Crepes freeze like a dream. You do not even need special equipment– if you have a frying pan with curving sides (as opposed to the straight up and down sides of your favorite cast iron skillet) and a burner of some description, you are good to go.
Perhaps it is the intimidation factor. To many people, French seems to be a code word for Snooty. And then there is the whole pronunciation issue– should crepe rhyme with schlepp or grape? (It is schlepp, by the way.) Look past all that and focus on this: a crepe is nothing more than a skinny pancake– and an utterly delicious, tender and tasty pancake at that. What’s not to like?
As a child, my mother used to take me to a place called The Magic Pan where you could watch cooks in tall paper chef’s hats making crepes on a sort of conveyor belt of upside down frying pans. It was cool! It was also all for show. When it comes to equipment, non-stick pans 8 or 9 inches in diameter work best. You can also make crepes with a well-seasoned stainless steel saute pan or a wide flat griddle if necessary, just remember to add plenty of butter between pancakes. If you are new to crepe-making, however, non-stick pans are definitely recommended– at least until you get the hang of it.
For never-fail crepe making tips and shopping suggestions in the Dallas Metroplex, see below.
Never-Fail French Crepe Recipe
1 1/2 cups lowfat or skim milk
1/2 cup water, about
1 dash salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps vanilla, about
1/4 cup butter, melted, plus more for the pan
2 cups flour, sifted (or at least fluff it with a fork a bit to aerate it.)
Beat eggs with a whisk until frothy. Beat in milk and water. (If you are using whole or 2% milk, decrease milk to 1 cup and increase water accordingly.) Still whisking, add in salt, sugar, vanilla and butter. Add in flour in stages, about half a cup at a time, whisking well to incorporate.
Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. You can also make the batter the night before and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Stir before using. You will probably need to add more water before using because the gluten in the flour will have soaked up some of the liquid in the batter while it rested. If it seems too thick, add just a couple of tablespoons cold water– you can always add more later if the crepe batter is still too thick.
Heat non-stick pan over medium to medium high heat; when it is hot enough, a few drops of water will seem to bounce across the surface before evaporating. Add a pat of butter and as soon as it has melted, add about 2 ounces of batter. (I use a small ladle, but a 1/4 or 1/3 measuring scoop works well, too.) Swirl the pan around to distribute the batter evenly. When it is time to flip, the batter on the surface will lose its glossiness and the edges will start to look brown. Cook the second side for 30 seconds, no more.
Makes 2 dozen crepes.
Serve French crepes smeared with Nutella and folded into fourths, with jam and/or butter, topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream or yogurt or– my favorite– with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Never-Fail French Crepe Tips
The first crepe will not turn out right. It never does, so be prepared to toss it out and start over. Or eat it yourself! It will still taste good.
If the first crepe does happen to turn out, the second crepe will fail miserably. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and move on.
If the batter seems too thick, add more water one tablespoon at a time. Remember, you can always add more water, but taking it out is impossible.
Do not worry about making your crepes as thin as possible. See through crepes tear easily and are hard to fill, and crepes still taste delish and look fancy even when they are a few millimeters thicker.
Make more crepes than you think you will need and freeze the rest between squares of wax paper for quick breakfasts or last minute desserts.
For Extra Special Fancy French Crepes, substitute 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier and a teaspoon of fresh orange zest for the vanilla extract. Top with more booze and some powdered sugar.
For Savory Crepes, omit the sugar and add a dash of white pepper. Use to make Italian manicotti or as a clever way to disguise leftovers.
Buy it local! Where to buy local dairy products in the Dallas Metroplex.
The very best crepes are made with the very best and freshest ingredients. Check out the Dallas Farmers Market for local eggs, butter and milk. Or stop by your local Whole Foods, Central Market and Sprouts for local milk and dairy products from Dallas area producers such as Lucky Layla Farms. Lucky Layla butter and milk is also available at the Four Seasons Market held on Saturdays year round at Firewheel Town Center.
Happy Mardi Gras everybody! Laissez les bon temps rouler!