There are a few staples that every French home cook should master, and French crepes are without any doubt in the top 3. For myself, being from Brittany, the birthplace of crepes, they are actually #1. And as a true Brittany native, I must start by emphasizing the fact that savory and sweet crepes are quite different in Brittany, and surely not meant to be mixed up. The difference starts right from the choice of flour …
- Crêpes de “blé noir”: Literally translated as “buckwheat flour crepes” are meant to be garnished with savory ingredients (ham, cheese, mushroom, egg, etc…) and enjoyed as a main dish.
- Crêpes de “froment”: Literally translated as “wheat flour crepes” are meant to be garnished with sweet ingredients (sugar, jams, chocolate, fruits, etc…) and enjoyed as a dessert.
And today’s recipe is what I like to think of as a fool-proof “Crêpes de froment” (sweet crepes), based on the authentic crepe recipe from Brittany. There is no secret here – precise portioning is essential. And because crepes have a reputation for being intimidating, I hope the following tips (fashioned by years and years of crepe-making and recipe tweaking) will help any novice to build their confidence and master these delicate wonders.
- Choose the right milk. Avoid low-fat, skimmed or lactose free – that will result in thinner, less tender crepes that are usually harder to fold or roll without breaking.
- Melt the butter and whisk it in your batter – instead of melting it onto your pan and pouring your batter on it to make the crepe. Whisking the melted butter into your batter will ensure it is blended evenly into the crepe. This will help in not getting your crepe stuck to the pan, and will also avoid getting crispy, over-greased edges. Your crepes will also have a less greasy feel – with the butter being incorporated into the crepes, and not laying as a film on the surface of them.
- Allow your batter to refrigerate for at least an hour. The liquid batter needs some time to absorb the flour, which will make for delicate and tender crepes.
- There is absolutely no-shame in using a non-stick pan – honestly, why wouldn’t you? And please, do not flip your crepes in the air! Traditional crepes are made on a roselle, and therefore, they are not flipped in the air. They are simply peeled off from the pan with the help of a wooden spatula, and placed back upside down, very gently.
- If you are preparing a stack of crepes (to be garnished and enjoyed later), prepare a plate covered with a clean dish cloth. Each time you finish a crepe and peel it off from the pan, place it on the plate – preferably folded in half so it is easier to grab later- and cover it with the cloth. Pile your crepes on the plate, and make sure the cloth is always wrapped around your plate, nice and tight – so the steam is kept inside. This technique will make sure your crepes are evenly cooked and very tender.
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs – medium size
½ liter of milk (2 cups + 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon of white sugar
1 tablespoon of rum
A pinch of salt
- Sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Place in a big mixing bowl and create a well in the middle.
- Break in the eggs, all at once, and mix with a wooden spoon.
- In a separate bowl, blend the melted butter, milk and rum. Add in the liquid to the crepe batter, little by little, until your batter becomes a velvety smooth liquid – that has the consistency of heavy cream.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet/pan over medium heat. When your pan is hot, add 1/3 cup of batter and swirl your pan quickly to completely cover the bottom. Cook until micro-bubbles form on top, and the underside of crepe is golden brown – 2 to 3 minutes.
- Loosen edge of crepe with a rubber spatula, then with your fingertips, peel off the crepe and quickly flip it. Cook for an additional minute.
- Slide your crepe out of your pan, onto a plate, and cover with a dish cloth. Repeat. Well stacked and wrapped, you crepes can be kept up to 3 days in the fridge.