La Chandeleur 3: To make crêpes
To make crêpes: (MUCH more than just a recipe.)
¾ cups flour
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.