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How to … make crêpes (my way)

10 March 2011

I’ve been wanting to make one of these photo how-tos about crêpes for years. But I usually make them for birthday breakfasts, so rarely have the time or interest in setting up a bunch of pictures early in the morning. On Tuesday, I decided to make crêpes for dessert in honor of Fat Tuesday, so I whipped out the tripod and got cookin’.

1. Make the batter.

1 :: Crêpe ingredients

For each egg (1 egg = 3 or 4 crêpes), you’ll want:

1 large spoon sugar
2 large spoons flour
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk (to start)
1 tsp oil
a dash of vanilla

Beat the eggs and sugar. Alternate adding flour (2 spoonfuls at a time) and milk and beat well. Mix in salt, oil, and vanilla. Cover bowl and let rest in refrigerator: overnight (for breakfast crêpes), for a few hours (for dessert crêpes), whatever you can.

Just before using, stir it up and add more milk to get the batter to heavy cream consistency (thicker than milk, but still very thin and runny. Like heavy cream.)

2. Some spoon explanations.

Now, this is the recipe as my mother taught me. It doesn’t use a scale, it doesn’t use typical American measures, either. You want heaping spoons of the flour, as such:

2 :: Measuring a spoonful of flour

Your spoons of sugar should be gently rounded, like this:

3 :: Measuring a spoonful of sugar

IMPORTANT: We aren’t talking your everyday spoons, either. This is a large soup spoon of the family silver kind. Huge. Enormous. See what I mean: This is one of my everyday soup spoons nested IN the spoon I used for the batter:

4 :: We are talking a BIG spoon

OK? Got it? If you don’t have this kind of cutlery, go to a flea market or Goodwill and buy one mismatched spoon. It will be your crêpe tool. Totally worth it.

3. Heat your pan.

5 :: Heat the pan (and some oil) nice and hot

You’ll need a drizzle of oil (I use canola) for each crêpe. I have a fancy schmancy crêpe pan, but for years I just made them in a smaller skillet. The skillet has a more rounded shape, instead of a nice flat bottom, and in fact when making a large batch for breakfasts, I usually use my crêpe pan and my small skillet, and cook two at a time.

4. Pour in a small ladle-ful of batter.

6 :: Pour in a small ladle-ful of batter

You’ll get the hang of this as you go. You want a nice thin layer of batter covering the bottom. Not too thick or the texture will be wrong, not too thin or it will tear when you try to turn it.

IMPORTANT: The first crêpe always messes up. The pan isn’t hot enough, or the amount of batter is wrong. Don’t worry — consider it the requisite offering to the crêpe gods. And the cook gets to eat it, standing at the stove. Win-win.

5. Ready to turn.

7 :: Ready to turn

The edges will get crisp and dark brown (remember, it’s a thin batter, so this is perfectly OK — it isn’t burned), the surface will not be liquidy, and steam pockets will bubble up the crêpe’s underside in places. Take a thin spatula, and flip it.

6. The second side will take much less time to cook.

8 :: Flip it

7. Stack them.

9 :: Stack it

Unlike pancakes, which you can have cooking on the stove while you are eating the previous batch, crêpes cook faster, so you need to make them all and then eat them. To prevent sticking, sprinkle a bit of sugar between the layers.

8. Eating crêpes, version 1.

10 :: Eating it, version 1

Our preferred way of eating a crêpe: smear a bit of butter on it, sprinkle on a spoon of brown sugar, then roll it up and eat it with your fingers. Yum.

9. Eating it, version 2.

11 :: Eating it, version 2

If your filling is wet (maple syrup, gooey sauces), fold it in half, then half again, and eat with a knife and fork.

And there you go! You have just made crêpes.

Stylin’ teens like them:

12 :: Stylin' teens like them

Stressed out, “I have an AP Chem test tomorrow!” teens like them:

13 :: Stressed out, "I have an AP Chem test tomorrow!" teens like them

14 :: And “willing to look goofy for his beloved” spouses like them:

14 :: And "willing to look silly for his beloved" spouses like them

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 March 2011 10:34 am

    “the requisite offering to the crêpe gods” – that’s a beautiful sentiment. works for many things in life.

  2. 11 March 2011 7:57 am

    I really thought that was a shotglass in the first photo. I think the crêpe gods would really like that…..

    • Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
      11 March 2011 8:07 am

      It is a shot glass! Only it’s filled with canola oil (all in the presentation, you see). Those crêpe gods can’t be getting greedy, now!

  3. 11 March 2011 9:14 am

    Interesting – over here, we tend to make pancakes with no sugar in the batter, nor vanilla or other flavouring. Anything seems to go with the topping but I like the simplest and most traditional, sugar and lemon juice, best.

  4. 15 March 2011 1:30 pm

    Mmmm…crepes…haven’t made those for a while. I think those will have to be on the family menu soon.

    We usually do two fillings here: some sort of vegetable (usually steamed broccoli) and grated cheese (either Gruyere or cheddar), or Nutella.

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