Every other week or so I make crepes. My family goes nuts. You’d think I told them we were going to shovel sugar straight from the sugar bowl into our mouths. Of course, that’s not too far off reality. Crepes (once filled) are sweet. Crepes are also fattening.
Crepes are delicious.
In fact, when I’m feeling unappreciated, I simply pull out the eggs and announce a crepe night. They kiss and hug me and thank me over and over.
I suggest you learn to make crepes, too. What mom doesn’t need extra hugs and kisses?
Occasionally I’ve seen overpriced packages of pre-made crepes at the supermarket. There’s no need to buy those. Crepes are inexpensive and easy to make on your own. Once you get the knack of twirling your pan, you can wow your friends and family with your French culinary skills. Imitate Maurice Chevalier or Lumiere the Candlestick as you prepare the batter. Poof out your lips a little and say “Voila,” and “Je t’aime.” Exclaim “Mais, oui!” and “Sacre bleu!” and “Oh-la-la!” often. They’ll be so impressed, especially if they are mono-linguistic Americans.
Disclaimer: I am not French. I’ve never lived in France. I did not learn to make these from a French chef or even a French maman. I’m just making this clear in case any authentic French reader visits and frowns upon my Americanized methods. I am a self-taught crepe-maker. My family doesn’t complain, and I don’t think my blog readers will, either. I think you’ll thank me. And I’m pretty sure your kids will, too.
Speaking of authentic French readers, watch this short video of a traditional crepe maker in France. I want to warn you: the sous-chef slathers Nutella all over the crepes, so try to remain calm and relaxed. I’m telling you in advance so that you can get something to dab at the corners of your mouth, you know, in case of spontaneous salivation.
To make crepes at home, you don’t need the industrial crepe-machine or the little wooden gadget to spin the batter thin. You will, however, need a big skillet. If you have one with sides that kind of angle, that’s an easier design for slipping the spatula underneath the crepe.
My favorite skillet for crepes was a Teflon-coated number–Teflon makes flipping them much easier. I am, however, phasing out Teflon from my kitchen. I now use a stainless steel pan and have to spray it each time with something like Pam or wipe it with a little butter-paper to slick it up. If you use a stainless steel pan, oil or butter it each time. For each and every crepe. They like to stick, so I’m just telling you to do it every time because you might be tempted to skip just once, and then you can’t blame me if it tears. (If, however, you don’t listen and it sticks and tears as you try to flip it, eat it anyway. It’ll still taste good, especially with Nutella.)
My current stainless steel skillet is deep with steep sides, and I’ve been able to make it work for crepes, so don’t worry too much about the sides. Use what you have. If you use Teflon, you won’t have to be as diligent with the oiling.
I use a regular old spatula you’d use for pancakes, but if you have a skinny one, you could try it.
I rarely sift flour for recipes, but I find that I must for crepes. Otherwise the batter is lumpy. Crepes are so thin, they are unforgiving. No lumps allowed.
Whisk or Hand Blender
A whisk is the best tool for whipping up the ingredients by hand. I have an electric hand blender that I use sometimes to fluff up the eggs. I suppose you could use a normal blender, though I never have. It doesn’t seem as earthy as a whisk or as easy to pull out and rinse off as a hand blender.
We have three versions–small, medium and large. My family of six can eat the large amount and more–I can hardly flip them fast enough. This is my own recipe–a combination of several that I’ve tried over the years.
- 3 eggs (you can use fewer–some people use one large egg or two small)
- 1 1/3 C milk
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 T melted butter
- 1 C flour (I’m told you can swap in whole wheat flour, but I’ve never tried)
- 1/2 t salt2 T sugar (optional, in my opinion, because you’re going to sprinkle sweet things inside before eating)
- 6 eggs (I’ve gotten by using one fewer, but consistency does change)
- 2 2/3 C milk
- 2 t vanilla
- 4 T melted butter
- 2 C flour
- 1 t salt
- 4 T sugar (optional)
For Large, I add more flour and milk to the recipe without changing anything else. Because I know what consistency the batter should be, I just monkey around until it looks right. They turn out lovely, which is why the number of eggs is iffy. Once you become an expert crepe-maker, you can fiddle around with the recipe and let me know how you modified it.
- Blend the eggs with whisk or hand blender until fluffy.
- Add vanilla and melted butter.
- Sift flour (important step) and salt (and sugar) into the egg mixture, mixing as you sift.
- Add some milk and then alternate flour and milk, mixing all the while. Batter should be smooth.
- Ladle the batter (or pour a 1/4 or 1/3 C measuring cup) onto a hot skillet, spinning the skillet for a very thin crepe.
Spinning the crepe: The young lady in this YouTube video demonstrates the ladling and spinning step quite nicely, even if her camera operator’s giggling narration is a bit self-conscious. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khwP-ngVPOo]
- Lift the crepe with your spatula to peek at the bottom and see if the crepe is lightly browned–refer to the French street vendor’s version in the first video as a doneness guide. Turn it with a spatula. (Some people like to flip them like an omelette, but why tempt fate? In fact, the previous video clip ends with a failed aerial flip–further evidence that using a spatula is the best beginner’s method for successful crepe preparation.) The edge of the crepe will lift up slightly from the pan–even seem a little dry sometimes–when it’s ready.
Note: I find that my first crepe of the evening often turns out odd in some way. Don’t be discouraged if your first few tear, get too brown or turn out irregular in some way.
- Flop the finished crepe onto the waiting child’s plate or the serving plate. You can make several and keep them warm in the oven. You can also make them all in advance for company (trouble is, they’ll miss all the “oh-la-la’ing” and “Sacre bleu’ing”). Stack them with wax paper between each crepe and store them in the fridge. You can heat them briefly at the last minute in a warm skillet like you would a tortilla.
Here’s the fun part: Filling and rolling (and eating) the crepes.
- Sprinkle brown sugar inside and roll up with a fork (you can fold into thirds like the street vendor, if you prefer)
- Spread a line of your favorite jam or preserves inside before rolling–you can even add some whipped cream (my Belgian-born-and-raised sister-in-law uses Reddi-wip)
- Nutella, of course
- Nutella with bananas
- Syrup, if you’re feeling rather American
- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries–any berries (with or without cream)
- Lemon and sugar
You can Google for more filling ideas, but we use what we have on hand. The kids love it simple.If my overly detailed instructions are too hard to follow, watch this guy’s step-by-step cooking-show-style instructions. The first four minutes are about making crepes (then he modifies the recipe to make pancakes).[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdWKc2NHj48]
Crepes work-for-me-Wednesday, as well as Saturday, Sunday, my birthday–any day!
The kids think so, too.