The ideal dessert crÃªpe has a lacelike appearance to it. This look can usually be imparted to the crÃªpe only when it has been cooked in a black-steel pan. (I prefer to use a pan that measures 5Â½ inches in bottom diameter.) It is unlikely that this textured appearance would be achieved when making crÃªpes in a nonstick frypan.
The most important technical maneuver in preparing these thin cakes is in the action of the wrist: The heated steel pan is held in one hand, tilted downward slightly, and using a 1-ounce ladle, the batter is poured into the pan toward the top. Then, with a quick figure-8 motion â€“ this is when the wrist action is crucial â€“ the batter is distributed evenly & thinly over the bottom surface of the pan. The crÃªpe is turned just when the edges begin to turn color. A nonstick pan is not as suitable to this classic technique for producing such light crÃªpes; they will be satisfactory, but not absolutely ideal.
The basic batter I use comprises:
1 cup sifted flour
2 tsp superfine sugar
pinch of salt
Â½ tsp vanilla extract
1Â¼ cups of milk (rather than cream which would overly thicken the batter)
some clarified butter (to brush the steel pan if it has not been well seasoned)
After whisking briefly, the batter should be strained through a fine-meshed seive, pressing any solid through with a rubber spatula. If deemed necessary, it can be diluted with a little water. Itâ€™s beneficial to let the batter rest for about 20 minutes before cooking.
Incidentally, one of my favorite ways to serve dessert crÃªpes is with a fresh peach, wild blueberry, and ricotta filling sweetened with crystalline fructose.
To make a sturdier batter for savory crÃªpes â€“ to hold, for example, chicken or ratatouille fillings â€“ I generally use ingredient proportions such as:
Â½ cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 ounces clarified butter
I keep this batter chilled for several hours.
"Where love has entered as the seasoning of food, I believe that it will please anyone." ~ Plautus: Casina