Crepes have always intimidated me. When I was in culinary school, I would make the crepe batter but I never actually poured the batter into the pan. Our chef instructor at the time was a very large man standing well over 6’4 with a booming voice. He appeared to think all of his students were stupid and incapable – a warm learning environment indeed. After watching several students before me get their hands swatted or yelled at for their incompetence, I can’t say I was sorry to miss the “crepe right of passage.” Two at a time, the students stepped up to the stovetop hoping they might be the one to make the perfect crepe. You could smell their eagerness and hope as they walked up to the burners with a little skip in their step. Then, as they began to pour the batter and swirl the pan, the sweat started to form and their skin began to flush. Almost each and every time, they walked away with bowed heads and a look of shame and embarrassment on their faces. Yes, the crepe station was rather tortuous, similar to the Thunderdome, “two men enter, but only one man leaves…”.
Making the batter is easy, but getting the right consistency in the pan as well as having the batter spread evenly, can be a challenge during the first few attempts. In fact, just be prepared to throw out a few crepes and do it with finesse. Shout “sacrebleu” at the top of your lungs to make sure anyone who witnesses your frustration, will think your “bottle of crazy” has a touch of European sophistication. My first crepe was tossed over my shoulder and into the sink, as though I was sprinkling salt for good luck – “fils de salope” I shouted (loosely translated as “son of a bitch”). Own it and move on, you will get the hang of it by your third crepe or you have my permission to leave a nasty comment, telling me I’m a bald-faced liar.
Crepes tend to really impress people. Anytime I have seen them served, someone always comments, “ooh crepes, how fancy.” Light and delicate with a sweet buttery flavor, crepes make a great canvas for almost any filling. For breakfast, try filling them with Gruyère cheese, eggs, spinach and mushrooms. For dessert, spread Nutella and chopped bananas.
If you too have been intimated by crepes as I once was, have no fear, if I can do it, anyone can do it. Make extra batter if you think you might need more practice and simply adopt the carefree attitude of the French. If you make a few blunders along the way, well then, “c’est la vie.”
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup of cold milk (I used 2%)
- 4 large eggs
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ (7.5 oz) cups of flour
- 4 Tbsp of melted butter
- clarified butter for pan - optional
- Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for one minute. Dislodge any flour on the sides of blender with a rubber spatula and blend a few more seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Brush your non-stick pan lightly with clarified butter or oil. Heat over medium high heat. Add ¼ cup of batter to the pan when the pan is almost hot enough to smoke. Quickly, but carefully swirl pan so the batter covers the surface as evenly as possible. Cook for about a minute.
- Carefully circle the edges of the crepe with a greased rubber spatula to separate crepe from pan, then flip. Cook on the other side for 30 seconds or so. You are looking for a light golden color throughout.
- Use the spotted side of your crepe for your filling and the evenly browned side for your presentation side.
- If you are filling your crepe with a savory filling, you can roll it up and place in your broiler for a few seconds until warm and cheese is melted - then cut and serve.