Monday, September 7, 2009

French crêpes

French for pancake, crêpes are light-paper thin creations that serve as a glorious backdrop for sweet or savory fillings. Dessert crêpes may be topped with a simple spritz of fresh lemon juice and a dusting of sugar, fresh fruit, jams, or the popular banana and nutella. Most famously, they star as Crêpes Suzette consisting of orange-butter sauce, doused in Grand Marnier, and flambéed. Savory crêpes are filled with meats, cheeses or vegetables and often topped with a complimentary sauce.

The crêpe batter must evenly and completely cover the surface of the pan to ensure a great crêpe. To help spread the batter, you'll need to lift the pan from the burner and rotate it several times. If the pan is not evenly balanced or if it is too heavy, this step will be difficult, so it is a good idea to simulate this motion before you purchase any pan. The French crêpe pan comes in a range of sizes. The smaller pans (6 to 8 inches in diameter) are typically used for dessert crêpes, whereas the larger pans (9 to 11 inches) are generally used for dinner crêpes.

Crêpes freeze well-you can make a big batch and stack them, separated by sheets of waxed paper, in a tightly sealed container or plastic bag. Stored this way, they'll keep for several months. Allow to defrost at room temperature, then rewarm by transferring the stack to a baking sheet, cover with foil, and heat in 300° oven for about 15 minutes.

There is a video on making crepes that is helpful if you'd like to see the process. The web site is:

The recipe below is an adaptation of a dish I am quite fond of from a lovely little Crêperie in San Clemente called La Galette. It goes by the name "Farmer's Breakfast Plate", and is served with slices of double cream brie, sliced oranges and an orange butter that I can never seem to get enough of, and is topped off with a light dusting of powdered sugar. With a large latté it is a wonderful start to the day.

Below, is my rendition of La Galette's Farmer's Breakfast Plate.



Sweet Crêpes

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or Grand Marnier
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Orange Butter (recipe below)
Sliced oranges
Powdered sugar for dusting


1. In a blender, or by hand, blend all the ingredients until smooth. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick, whisk in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

2. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

3. Heat a 9 to 11 inch crêpe pan over medium-low heat, until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact. Brush the surface of the crêpe pan with a thin film of melted butter or oil. Blot any excess with the a paper towel.

4. Gently stir the batter and ladle a 2 oz. portion (1/4 cup) of batter into the middle of the pan, swirling the batter around the pan in all directions.

5. Heat for approximately 60-90 seconds until the edges turn golden. Lift the edge of the crêpe with a spatula, then use your fingertips to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Cook on the other side for 30 seconds, or until the batter is set into a thin pancake.

6. Transfer the crêpe to a large, round plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, brushing the pan with more butter if necessary. Stack the crêpes as they are made.

7. If making ahead, wrap the crêpes in plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

Orange Butter

1/2 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
zest from 1 bright-skinned orange
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. Juice from the orange or orange liqueur

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the 3 Tbsp. sugar along with the orange zest and give it a few good pulses to combine. Cut the butter into pieces, and process until smooth and almost fluffy. By droplets, while the machine is running add the orange juice or orange liqueur. Cover and refrigerate. This will also freeze nicely as well, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. If you have any extra it is a lovely addition to french toast, biscuits or even a nice slice of toasted brioche.


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  2. These crepes look absolutely fabulous!
    Very nice blog post!

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