Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crêpe attack!

I spent the summer of 2006 with a wonderful family in Putney, SW London. The family took in short- and long-term lodgers -- some coming to the UK to work or to study, others for travel. A pair of girls from France came to stay for a few weeks and made the most delicious crêpes I'd had in my life:

Unfortunately, I was never able to get the recipe. Thus we come to today, wherein I remain a complete amateur on the making of the perfect crêpe. It normally wouldn't matter, except that I offered to make a millefeuille crêpe cake for a friend to celebrate the conclusion of 2011! So, by trial and error, I'm still trying to figure out how to replicate those crêpes...

Batch #1: The key to the perfect crêpe, in my opinion, is the texture, which is also something I've always struggled with in the past. This time I allowed the batter to rest overnight then come to room temperature before cooking in hopes the gluten would relax. I don't know if I let it rest for too long, or if I overmixed it, but the texture turned out terribly. Not only were the crêpes rubbery, but they tasted both too floury and too eggy simultaneously!! Not sure how I managed that, but needless to say that method was out...

Batch #2: Mixed very minimally and allowed the mixture to rest in the fridge for about 45-60 minutes. The texture was much, much improved! However, I think it could have used more sugar and salt, bc the flavor was very flat despite having used salted butter. Also, it was slightly dry or spongy, like store-bought crêpes. Not the end of the world, but still not that perfect moist, slightly chewy authentic French crêpe I've been dreaming of! At the same time, however, this lighter, foam-like texture may be more suited to millefeuille anyway. Some pics and the method (including adjustments to sugar and salt) follow:

This method enabled me to get very thin crêpes. Pictured here is probably a stack of 5, though it doesn't look it!
The fun thing w/ crêpes is that they are so versatile -- these were very plain in taste, so they probably would've been better with a savory filling. Pictured here as the filling and topping is the strawberry sauce that normally goes with shortcake.

[recipe as modified by flook from,, Alton Brown, and others]

2 eggs
1 cup milk (skim or 1% is ideal)
2 tbsp. butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
Large pinch salt -- I would even go to 1/8 tsp.
1-2 tbsp. sugar (as needed)
1 tbsp. vanilla

  1. Melt butter over low heat until caramel in color (note: you can use oil, but the authentic taste of a crêpe should be slightly caramely, and you won't achieve this with oil). Add the milk, stir for about a minute, then turn off heat and let stand to warm. This allows the fat to suspend and mix more thoroughly in step 2.
  2. Sift flour together with the salt and sugar. If using a blender, combine with milk liquid, eggs, vanilla, and mix on high until completely combined, about 30 seconds. If using a whisk or hand mixer, whisk until just combined (do not overbeat or your crêpes will turn out rubbery). Cover and let mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (If the batter separates, mix it again just before cooking the crêpes.)
  3. When ready to cook the crêpes, melt enough butter to coat a 10-inch nonstick skillet or an 8-inch crêpe pan over medium heat. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the batter (about 3" diameter) and immediately swirl and tilt the pan to create a thin, even layer. (If it sets before you have a chance to swirl, lower the heat slightly. However, note that the heat should be high enough to cook the first side of the crêpe in approx. 1 minute.)
  4. Return to heat and cook until the crêpe is golden around the edges and dry in the center, about 1 minute. You'll notice that the edges will start to curl in, away from the pan. Use fingers or spatula to flip and cook for about 20 seconds more.
  5. Slide the crêpe onto a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan as needed (approx. per 5 crêpes). Serve immediately.
If you have that elusive "perfect" crêpe recipe, do share! Bon appétit!

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