Missing France. That’s me these days. You are missing your favorite vacation spot, too, I’m sure. Let me share a little of my favorite place…from my home to yours (chez moi a chez vous).
My French BFF is horrified that up until recently I bought crepe mix (affiliate link), and now that I know, I’m kind of horrified, too. Crepes are basically thin pancakes that are often folded to eat with your hands. More specifically, they are made with no leavening agent like baking soda. Crepes are easily mixed up with pantry items that you likely have at home, even if you are quarantining.
Mini-French lesson: Crepe and crepes are both pronounced “krep” with a short “e”. It doesn’t rhyme with a superhero’s “cape” and there is no “s” sound for the plural.
There are two essential pieces of equipment that you need for true crepes: a large flat-bottomed skillet (which you probably already own) and a crepe spreader. The former can be any large skillet. My Calphalon non-stick 13″ is my go-to skillet, even if I’m just scrambling two eggs. After the crepes are cooked, throw some sausage in for a side dish.
Don’t bother buying a crepe pan because THIS is the pan that will work for crepes, dishes that need a wok, and all sorts of other dishes, too.I’ve never looked for a substitute for a crepe spreader because it’s easy enough to get online. It’s a simple wooden T-shaped utensil that just takes a flick of the wrist to use. Amazon sells a three-pack of crepe spreaders that are oddly made in the USA, which is handy because one will work perfectly with your favorite skillet.
I had to adjust a few different recipes to eliminate the lumps when I first started making these from scratch. The trick, I found, was to mix all the liquid ingredients first and THEN gradually and slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid. I suppose you might get different results with different flours. I was using regular old all-purpose flour.
If you can make American pancakes from a box, I’m pretty sure you can make crepes from scratch, and you’ll love them!
If you do, it takes only a few minutes more, literally 5 minutes, to make fresh whipped cream that is miles better than the stuff from a can.
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- In a large mixing bowl, crack both eggs, add milk and water, and beat together until frothy. A stand mixer with the whisk attachment makes this process easy, although a hand mixer works well, too. With a little muscle, a hand whisk will get the job done.
- Slowly and gradually add the flour and salt, beating continuously, then slowly drizzle in the melted butter. You shouldn't get lumps with this method, but if you do, don't let it ruin your day. They will still be yummy.
- Let the batter sit for up to 10 minutes. It won't really thicken up, but the ingredients like to get to know each other a bit before facing the fire together. And if you know anything about the French, you should just expect a little delay in everything.
- Heat a non-stick pan on medium-high for 5 minutes. Be sure the pan is hot before adding batter. You should not need to add butter or oil to a non-stick pan, which can burn and make the resulting crepes uneven.
- Turn your burner heat down to medium.
- Use a ¼ or ⅓ measuring cup to scoop batter into the hot pan. With your crepe spreader, put your wrist into a circular motion and spread the crepe batter out into a wide, thin circle.
- Keep an eye on it! It only takes a moment or two for your crepe to brown on one side. When it does, flip it over immediately. It takes even less time to finish cooking on the second side.
- Finish cooking all crepes and stack them on a plate until all the crepe batter is cooked.
- Dress your crepes simply and lightly with your choice of toppings, and just on one half of the circle shape. Don't overfill! Fold in half, then half again to get the class French cone-shape that is often enjoyed by eating with your hands. Yes, you can also eat them with a fork, but where's the fun in that?
- Fresh whipped cream:
- This is so ridiculously easy, that if you've never made it before, you are going to thank me. Purchase a pint of Heavy Whipping Cream (also known as heavy cream or whipping cream, they are all the same) from your regular grocery store. I only use half a pint at a time to make a generous portion. Add a teaspoon of powdered sugar. In a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment on medium-high for 3-4 minutes. Stop when soft peaks form and the whipped cream feels like it takes some convincing to plop off of a spoon or spatula. This will stay firm in the refrigerator for a day, but I recommend eating it all promptly.
- Serving suggestions: Nutella! Butter and sugar, Fresh fruit such as banana or berries, Fruit jam known in France as confiture, Fresh whipped cream
Fill them with anything you have on hand. Some thick fruit jam and fresh whipped cream is always my favorite choice.
The weekend is coming. You’ll want to pin this for later. But don’t wait for a special occasion. Any weekend will do!