Crêpes are wonderfully flexible, but not eaten nearly enough. They seem to have become passé. They’re no longer as exotic or sexy, as they once were. And, it’s a damn shame, I tell you. So let’s bring them back. I love the flexibility that crêpes offer the cook. They can be both savory and sweet and the beauty of this recipe is that it can be used in either form, which makes our culinary life easier. Don’t you just love when that happens? They can be made ahead, they freeze well, and the filling possibilities, both sweet and savory are pretty much endless.
But, you do have to plan ahead, because the batter needs to rest. I sort of wonder if this is really necessary, but it seems this is de rigueur for crêpe making. So, let’s just say this is true, let the batter have a nice nap, and really, who doesn’t need a nice nap anyway? A couple of hours, in the fridge will do the trick. I find the batter is best made in a blender. I’ve tried a food processor, and that works, but it just doesn’t work as well. It also has a tendency to be messier. Use what you have.
Most crêpe recipes contain more or less the same ingredients—eggs, flour, milk (and sometimes water), butter, salt and sometimes sugar. I add no sugar to the batter, but I do add some lemon zest and juice. Sugar not only sweetens, but it also adds tenderness to baked goods. Since crêpes are inherently tender, I would rather add the sugar to the filling. Therefore, this recipe can either be sweet or savory. I find that the lemon enhances both…win, win!
Just dump everything into the blender container, give it a good whirl and then…let it rest. You can leave the mixture right in the blender container. The consistency of the rested batter should be like heavy cream, and you can make the batter a day or two ahead, if that works better for you.
After the nap, make the crêpes. I use an 8-inch diameter (well-seasoned or non-stick) skillet. There is such a thing as a crêpe pan, but you don’t really need that. You want the pan to be reasonably hot, which means that I heat the pan alone for at least 2 minutes over just slightly less than medium-high heat. For the heat, think about a clock face, it would be at about 4:30 or 5 on my stove.
I put about 1/2 teaspoon of butter in the hot pan, let it melt, then swirl it around, covering the bottom. If the butter browns, that’s a good thing; it just adds a nice flavor layer. I use slightly less than 1/8 cup of batter, about 2 tablespoons. This amount works well in my pan. If your pan is larger, then you will probably need more batter.
It always takes me 2-3 three wrecked crêpes to get the hang of the “swirling the batter” in the hot skillet. (You can check out the crêpe making process here.) Now, we don’t throw those damaged crêpes out. No, no, no. Those are for the cook. You can smear them with a bit of good jam and voilà! Lunch.
Anyway, make the crêpes. After you pour the batter into the skillet and swirl it around, leave the crêpe to cook until the top dries slightly and is firm. You’re going to flip the crêpe over. I use my fingers to do this, but you can use a thin spatula. Remove the crêpes and stack them one on top of the other. I usually put a piece of waxed paper in between each crêpe. When they cool, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to use them. Or, use them right away.
As to fillings, you can go with something as simple as a smear of jam or a more substantial filling, like ham, cheese and spinach. Really, the sky is truly the limit.
This batter is excellent for both sweet and savory crêpes. Crêpes can be made ahead or frozen.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 teaspoons butter
Combine all ingredients except unmelted butter in a blender. Process until smooth. Cover the blender container and chill for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Place a 8-inch skillet (see NOTE) or crêpe pan on medium-high heat. Drop about 1/4 teaspoon of butter into the hot pan; let it melt, then swirl it around to cover the bottom of the skillet with a thing layer of fat. Take pan off heat and ladle in a scant 1 ounce of the batter (about 2 tablespoons).
Tilt and shake the pan so the crêpe mixture coats the bottom evenly. It will be a very thin layer. Set the pan back on heat and cook batter for about 30 seconds or until the top is set and slightly dry; little bubbles may form. With a spatula or your fingers, loosen crêpe and flip over. Cook for another 20-30 seconds, or until the bottom is dry. Flip out onto a tea towel (or waxed paper).
Repeat with remaining crêpe batter, adding butter as needed. Usually you won’t need to butter more than a couple of times. Continue making crêpes until the batter is finished. Place the finished crêpes between pieces of waxed paper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate until needed. Can be made up to 2 days ahead and can be frozen.
NOTE: Add 1 teaspoon sugar for dessert crêpes, if you wish, but I prefer to put the sweetness in the filling…it’s your call. I use a very well-seasoned aluminum skillet that is 8-inches in diameter across the top, but 6-inches in diameter across the bottom. Adjust the amount of batter to fit your pan.
Crêpes Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
I’m a visual learner, so a picture truly is worth a thousand words for me. If you too, are a visual learner, you may want to watch this video of crêpe making. It’s pretty straight forward, except their crêpes didn’t brown enough for my taste, I suspect that’s because of the pan they used. But, the method is pretty sound…this isn’t rocket science. It just take practice and a bit of patience. And the bonus, any “damage” can be eaten by the cook and no one will be the wiser!