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Old 08-18-2010, 11:19 AM   #1
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Crepes

I prefer to call pancakes “crepes”. Their edges are as frilly as old French lace and should be delicate little things. Our family’s recipe, generations old, for me, sums up the perfect crepe. In our brasserie, these crepes always are popular: the proof of the pudding is always in the eating.

For ingredients we always use organic, free-range eggs. These have a lovely deep yellow yolk, so a crepe made with them will have a better colour. The flour we use is plain, the milk can be skimmed or whole/full cream. It doesn’t really matter. Salt, I always add the tiniest pinch - that really does make a difference, either sweet or savoury crepes, always a little pinch, nothing more.

Some cooks say mineral water added to the batter makes a crepe lighter. Or, beer. But I’m not so sure. What is more important is that the cooking is done quickly, so that the pancake remains moist. Cooked too slowly, crepes tend to dry out. Another cause of thin, dry results is using a batter that is too thin. What I am fussy about, though, is making the batter the consistency of double cream. In America “heavy cream” is about the same as our UK’s double cream. And, when after making the batter, I find that resting it gives the protein in it time to relax, and the starch from the plain flour, time to expand.

Heat the pan slowly, over a low to moderate heat. Check first whether it’s hot enough by first making a pancake. The pan should be hot enough that the batter colours in less than a minute, but not so hot that the batter sets before you have time to let it run over the entire pan.

Personally, I like the first crepe out of the pan. It sticks a little, so is always a little more well done that the rest, and I’ll pig it down with freshly squeezed sharp lemon juice, the crepe dredged with gritty caster sugar. Scrummy! It’s also the cook’s perk.

I love making crepes. Just getting onto a roll and making batches of them is my idea of culinary heaven, made better still on our faithful old Lancanche. But in crepes, lightness is crucial. Too thin and your crepes will have no substance. Too thick and my daughter will screw her nose up and go “ewwww!”

In Reims, French creperies have everything from chocolate sauce to apple purée on their menus. Moreish though these fillings can be, they run pretty close to gilding the lily. The only one really worth bothering with is crêpe suzette which, although am told is 60’s passé, crêpe suzette is one of the great desserts of all time. Give me light crepes in a sticky unsalted butter and a sharp, citrus sauce anytime. Be snotty about it if you want, but frankly it's your loss. I reckon it's a charming way to end a meal.

This basic recipe makes about 12.

1¾ oz / 50g butter, plus more for cooking
3½ oz / 100g plain flour
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
350ml milk

Melt most of the butter in a small pan and leave it to cool slightly. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt. Scoop a well in the centre of the flour, then drop in the egg and the egg yolk. You can beat them lightly first, but I'm not sure it makes much difference. Pour in the milk, whisking gently as you go, then whisk in the melted butter. Set the batter aside for about half an hour.

Melt some butter for frying. Heat an 8 inch / 18-20cm crepe pan and brush it with a little melted butter. Stir the batter - it should be the thickness of double cream - and pour 50-60ml into the pan. Working quickly, tilt the pan so that the batter runs all over the surface, making a neatish round. The base should be covered in batter, but not quite thin enough to see through.

Let the crepe cook for a minute or so until the underside is golden in patches and comes easily away from the pan. Lift one edge up with a palette knife and flip it gently over. The base should be cooked in 1 minute, maybe less - but it will only cook in patches, not as evenly as the first side. Tip it carefully on to a plate. Brush the pan with a little more melted butter and continue until you have used all the batter.

Note: for sweet pancakes, you can add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar to the mixture and 2 tablespoons of brandy. This will give a sweet, richer finish and is especially good for those who like their pancakes with cream or ice cream.

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Old 08-18-2010, 02:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linux View Post
...“crepes”. Their edges are as frilly as old French lace and should be delicate little things...either sweet or savoury crepes...freshly squeezed sharp lemon juice, the crepe dredged with gritty caster sugar. Scrummy!...I love making crepes....culinary heaven, made better still on our faithful old Lancanche. In Reims, French creperies have everything from chocolate sauce to apple purée on their menus...gilding the lily...crêpe suzette is one of the great desserts of all time....Be snotty about it if you want, but frankly it's your loss...it's a charming way to end a meal.
Thank you, Linux, for that beautiful post and recipe for crepes...but did you have to say "snotty"?
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:55 PM   #3
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Thank you, Linux, for that beautiful post and recipe for crepes...but did you have to say "snotty"?
I know. But unfortunately, in France especially, this is what many people can get like.

I love food writing, but can never find enough time to enjoy it fully. Thank you for the compliments, though.
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Old 08-18-2010, 03:20 PM   #4
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You have a talent for culinary writing, Linux. You can practice on us anytime .

I'll never forget this guy I was playing an online ABC Word Association game with where everything we said had to be said in alphabetical order. It was a conversation that had to relate to previous post. Here's one of his posts in response to my post about fingerlickin' glazes (notice all words in alphabetical order):

"honey infused jewel-like krumpets, lavishly mascarponed millefeuille, nicely oranged petit poptart puffs"

I fell in love right then and there
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Old 08-18-2010, 05:03 PM   #5
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You have a talent for culinary writing, Linux. You can practice on us anytime .

I'll never forget this guy I was playing an online ABC Word Association game with where everything we said had to be said in alphabetical order. It was a conversation that had to relate to previous post. Here's one of his posts in response to my post about fingerlickin' glazes (notice all words in alphabetical order):

"honey infused jewel-like krumpets, lavishly mascarponed millefeuille, nicely oranged petit poptart puffs"

I fell in love right then and there
Aww that reminds me of Loyd Grossman's prose, his famously elongated transatlantic really cracks me up! No surprising you fell for him.

Might do some more practicing at the weekend, if I can get time off before I go on holiday.
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