La Chandeleur 3: To make crêpes

La Chandeleur 3: To make crêpes

To make crêpes: (MUCH more than just a recipe.)

¾ cups flour
4 eggs
2 cups milk (OR 1 cup milk, 1 cup beer)
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
¼ cup melted butter
Optional: flavoring of your preference (a tablespoon of rum is popular)

Mix all this together and let it sit at least an hour, longer is fine.

Grease the crêpe pan or skillet and heat it until a drop of water sizzles, just like for pancakes. Some people prefer butter for the grease, but Sébastien usually puts a little corn oil in the bottom of a cup and leaves a folded paper towel in it. Every couple of crêpes he will wipe the paper towel over the pan, keeping his fingers clean by grabbing the top, non-oil-soaked part and very lightly re-greasing the pan with the bottom, oil-soaked part. You don’t want the oil to run, just be a swipe of it over the whole pan.

Pour about half a cup of batter into the pan, turning the pan and angling it as you do so, so the batter runs out and fills the whole pan, with a very fine layer. You’ll probably have to experiment with the first few crêpes until you learn exactly how much batter you need for this.

Cook over medium-high until it starts to brown on one side and then flip it.

FLIPPING: This is the important part. No cheating on the flipping. Everyone has to do it. Everyone has to do it with the gold coin or gold coin substitute in hand at least once. And you cannot pick the crêpe up by the edges and turn it.

Here’s the technique: Loosen the crêpe, with a spatula if necessary but if a spatula is necessary you probably need to re-oil your pan. Usually you can just jiggle it forward until a tiny bit of the crêpe is at or just over the edge of the pan on the opposite end from the handle, which you are holding. Now give a FIRM FLIP upward with the wrist.

At this point many things can happen:

1)� Your crêpe doesn’t budge, meaning your idea of a firm flip is…well, not that firm.

2)� Your crêpe halfway budges but doesn’t quite get airborne. Instead, the half that started to get airborne just folds over onto the other half that cravenly preferred to stay in the pan.

3) Your crêpe flips perfectly, you catch it in the pan, and jiggle it back into place to finish cooking.
4) Your crêpe flips perfectly, but you don’t catch it in the pan, and it ends up on the floor.

In all cases, life is good, because in the first 2 you can re-flip it, and in the fourth…well, either you have a dog or you have very clean kitchen floors, right? Clean enough to eat off of?

Just remember to flip it over the floor, not over the burner. It’s no fun cleaning burners of burnt crêpes.

It doesn’t matter if you mess up the flip a few times, though. In fact, that’s part of the fun.� It turns into a party game pretty fast.
If you are celebrating La Chandeleur with other people, probably the crêpes will all get grabbed as soon as they come out of the pan. If you do want to stack some to serve all at once, sprinkle some sugar on top of each crêpe as you lay it on the stack, then turn another plate face down over it to hold in the heat while waiting for the next crêpe.

One of the fun things to do with a crêpe party is to have a lot of toppings to try, everything from jelly to maple butter (a Canadian twist) and in between. Here are our favorites:

Mine: butter and sugar, or butter and Ghirardelli’s Sweet Ground Chocolate gently sprinkled over. However I used to go much crazier, so that at crêpe stands where I would order such things as crêpes with chocolate, banana, honey, and whipped cream, the stand owner would mockingly offer a bottle of ketchup to go with it. I think he must have detected my accent. Or maybe I should have just stopped at the chocolate.

Sébastien’s: butter and sugar or Nutella.

OK, over to you. I look forward to hearing how it went! And just in case you were wondering about that cider–of COURSE I did not make you buy it unnecessarily. Cider, a specialty of Normandy, is the traditional drink with crêpes. French cider is alcoholic and bubbly; the classic is apple although I prefer pear. You can substitute some of those hard apple or pear ciders that are starting to become popular in the U.S.

Cider is traditionally served in handleless clay cups called bolées, I just mention it in case you happen to have any on hand.� My dad liked to drink his tea and coffee from cups like that.� If you don’t–just enjoy it in anything you like.

Have fun!

  • I love hard cider. And Calvados. But I have yet to develop a taste for Nutella.

    February 1, 2007 at 10:58 pm
  • What about when you flip it and it lands half in the pan, and half, gooey-side down, on the stove/counter/floor? Not that I’ve ever done that with crepes (but with omelettes, oh, about a skillion times). Or just hangs there and gloms onto the outside of the pan? I’m just wondering, because my six-year-old’s flip fu is not strong, and such a situation might well arise. I hope it doesn’t mean bad luck for the whole year or something.

    February 2, 2007 at 3:34 am
  • Yes, Dear, but are they dirty? They do sound yummy! I’ll have to try these when I’m feeling adventurous. Oh, by the way, chocolate, banana, honey, and whipped cream sounds divine! Don’t let cranky Mr. Ketchup discourage your creative genius!

    February 2, 2007 at 10:50 am
  • dee

    Ack! Ok, where the heck are you? Because see, my husband is off work today, and I took the kids shopping last night to gather all of the ingredients for the crepes-fest today.
    So I’m looking at the ingredients, all mixed up in a bowl, and it just looks kinda…runny. Not like the consistency of crepes I’ve made in the past. Granted, my recipe is from the Betty Crocker cookbook (you know, the old red one with the white checkerboards, that’s been passed through 4 generations of women in my family, totally LOVE it!), so it is most decidedly not French, and I just want to make sure I’m doing this right, you understand? I mean, to get all six kids and a husband to agree to pose for a picture while flipping a crepe, all because I read on some chick’s blog that it was the thing to do today? Yeah, the stars had to be perfectly aligned for them all to agree, and honestly, I think they’re secretly thinking that they are going to hide my internet connection in the future.
    I just want to make sure that it’s supposed to be this thin, before I let it sit for an hour, and then find that it’s still running all over the place, you know? I can’t imagine making them wait an hour, then saying “Oops, it was supposed to be ONE and one quarter cups of flour, so let me fix that and we’ll just wait one more hour!” I think they would choke me… with crepe batter!

    February 2, 2007 at 10:50 am
  • Ack! Sorry, dee! I knew I would make a mistake converting everything from French to American. It’s just one cup liquid. I guess if you’ve already made it, add more flour, eggs, and butter. I’m sorry!

    February 2, 2007 at 1:06 pm
  • dee

    Not to worry. I used the recipe as it was, let it sit, and just hoped for the best. We doubled it, of course, because I have a mob to feed.
    And guess what? They were just fine, thankyouverymuch!

    Check out my blog for pictures!

    February 2, 2007 at 1:35 pm
  • Fluffy

    Just a little tip in case the mix is not quite right :

    – if the crepes make holes when you cook them, it means the mix lacks flour. Just add some to adjust the consistency
    – if the crepes look like pancakes (all puffy and flipping like a concrete block), just add more liquids (whatever you mixed in the first place – milk being the best for taste)

    Nice crêpes party Dee!


    February 2, 2007 at 1:55 pm
  • You have to check out dee’s pictures, they’re great. Her toppings sound good, too.
    Alala, no bad luck can accrue for anything to do with La Chandeleur, so your 6-year-old can practice his flip fu to…er, the extent of his mom’s patience for clean-up. It’s all about having fun.
    Mr. Ketchup wasn’t so much cranky as he found me completely hilarious. Or possibly insane? But Michelle, I’m glad to see we think alike. Maybe THAT could be a Dirty Crêpe. It seems like a Dirty Crêpe needs some secret spice or something, though.

    February 2, 2007 at 3:06 pm
  • And I don’t like Nutella either, Mimi. It’s the hazelnuts, mostly. It hampers me in Belgium where they are OBSESSED with the praliné (hazelnut based centers), but I really don’t like hazelnuts in my chocolate.

    It’s probably a good thing that a have a few things to hamper me when I’m in Belgium. I once tried chocolates from ALL the stores in Brugge in 24 hours. I shall have to tell the tale another day.

    February 2, 2007 at 3:09 pm
  • amy

    Oh, my, Laura–no hazelnuts in your chocolate?? That is my FAVORITE combination. My husband brings me these hazelnut-chocolate concoctions from this place down the road from his office where they make the chocolates themselves… And in Italy? I lived on nociola gelato. And I’d mix scoops, one chocolate, one hazelnut.

    And I have no nutella for my crepes due to my boys morphing into a wild pack of jackals at the market. I was hoping to try the crepes for breakfast tomorrow–hope that’s okay–because my husband has been traveling all week and gets home this evening and I can’t do the flipping of crepes without him. (Honestly, I can’t do one more flipping thing without him–I’ve had it this week.)

    Perhaps I will just sprinkle them with chocolate. The boys will only want maple syrup anyway. I once tried to serve them waffles with real fresh-whipped cream and fresh strawberries and they looked at me like the Visigoths they are and said, Where’s the syrup, Mama?

    February 2, 2007 at 3:25 pm
  • We don’t buy Nutella, not even when it comes in soccer-ball-shaped jars because Germany’s hosting the World Cup! (Yeah, 2006 was a helluva year.) Because they have Belmandel here, which is with almonds instead. Much, much better. We also have sprinkly cinnamon-apple-sugar, and sprinkly cinnamon-chocolate-sugar. Should be an exciting evening.

    February 2, 2007 at 5:38 pm
  • Amy, you and I just might be the ideal Belgium traveling companions. I have had TROUBLE with other companions over chocolate, let me tell you. One of them was Adela once, which was quite traumatic. But you and I could just split things.

    Belmandel definitely sounds more my thing. Or cinnamon-chocolate-sugar. Yum.

    February 3, 2007 at 5:42 pm