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January 2003
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September 2004

perfect crepes

Perhaps the most...particular cook I've known had this precise recipe for making perfectly lcy browned crepes. Can you tell they work in science?

Yields 8 Crepes: (scale up as necessary)

Whisk 2 eggs together w/ 2/3 cup milk + a bit of salt (1/2-1 tsp. Melt 4 Tbsp butter (depending on which you use, salted/unsalted, adjust salt, above, accordingly) and whisk rapidly and continuously into egg/milk mixture. What you are looking for is to form small individual butter dropplets dispersed throughout the batter. This is what gives you the 'lacey' pattern in the crepes.

Whisk up to 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (sifted if you like) into the batter 1/4 cup at a time. Try to get out as many lumps as possible, but a few small ones are irrelevant. If you want to do buckwheat crepes, just substitute 1/4 cup buckwheat flour for regular (therefore 1/2 cup flour/ 1/4 cup buckwheat flour total).

Check the consistency of your batter. Only experience can tell you what works and what doesn't. It definitely should NOT be thick like regular pancake batter. Add more milk or flour to adjust the consistency as necessary.

Let the batter 'rest' in fridge for 30 min-1 hour (I usually skip this step due to time constraints and get perfectly fine results, but have noticed that the 'resting' does have a beneficial effect).

Heat regular (NOT non-stick) 8 or 9 inch skillet over medium heat (or use electric crepe pan according to directions-something I have no experience w/). Starting off, I grease w/ just a DROP or two of canola oil (or any other exotic but low flavor oil would work, such as almond oil) and spread around pan w/spatula, ensuring edges are coated. It is easier to add like a tsp of oil to the pan and then spread around with a paper towel to distribute oil evenly and wick off excess.

This is where 'crepe philosophy' comes into play. Too much oil in the beginning and the crepe won't form properly as it won't stick. Too little and the crepe will stick too much and your crepe is ruined and you have to scrape the pan. Some people think that you just have to sacrifice the first crepe (that it can't come out right no matter what you do) but I am not one of them. The crepe batter itself, due to its butter content, will grease the pan for subsequent crepes, so you shouldn't need to re-grease w/ oil for the remainder of the crepe making process. If you do, then you don't have enough butter in the batter. Another key issue here is how to know when the pan is at the right temperature. Not only does this require experience, but you must also pay attention*.

The pan is ready when the oil or clarified butter (thrown off from previous crepe) begins to 'bead' in the pan. A few seconds later, it will begin to smoke. Just in between those two states is when to throw your crepe. You can see the 'beading' by looking at the surface of the pan w/ your overhead light reflected at the 'right' angle. It's probably like a 45 degree angle, but I'm not sure.

Once the pan is at the right temperature, lift the pan off the heat and pour 1/4 batter into the pan and rotate it to coat the surface of the pan w/ the batter in a thin layer. You are just trying to coat the bottom, not the sides as well. This motion takes practice. Return pan to heat and cook for approx 5-10 seconds, or until edges dry and begin to slightly come up off the pan surface. Flip w/ spatula and cook another 5 seconds on other side, then slide crepe off onto waiting plate.

Repeat this process until batter is gone, 1/4 cup batter per crepe, waiting for pan to reheat to the 'correct temperature' between crepes and checking the adequacy of the greasing of the pan, adjusting if necessary, as you go.

Good luck!

* Please note this is a direct personal admonishment from the chef, as I have been known to be incredibly impatient and sometimes easily distracted when cooking upon the stove-top.