“Pancakes were meant to be flipped!” - Anthony T. Hincks
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According to a 2015 study by Gfk, “After the Chinese, the French enjoy cooking food the most”. Nearly two-thirds of French people cook at least once a week and nearly a third cook for themselves every day.
With recipes like crepes, who can blame them?
In this article, we’ve got some recipes for you to try out yourself.
The History of Crepes
While crepes are quintessentially French, they’re also pretty global. Pancake day is a celebration of them, albeit with a religious background.
How much do you know about the history of them, though?
Traditionally, they’re cooked on a pancake maker, a large edgeless hotplate, and made from a batter of milk and flour. They’re generally very thin, unlike American pancakes, and eaten as a dessert. However, you can enjoy both sweet and savoury crepes and eat them either hot or cold.
Crepes are usually eaten with toppings. You can enjoy them with sugar, chocolate, jam, or vegetables, meats, or fish if you prefer savoury crepes.
Crepes are probably old than you think. The first crepes date back to around 7,000BCE. That said, crepes back then were quite different from the crepes we eat nowadays. They were made from water and crushed cereals, resulting in a thicker batter. They were cooked on a flat stone, too. Many years later, during the 13th century, the Breton crepe appeared.
After all, the Bretons would have to wait until buckwheat arrived in France following crusades in Asia. These crepes were much thinner than their ancient counterparts and became known as buckwheat pancakes or galettes. Galettes are gluten-free and can be enjoyed with all sorts of vegetables as an entire dish. Breton tradition dictates that you should hold a coin in your hand when tossing the galette to bring you good fortune throughout the whole year.
Galettes are different from typical crepes and pancakes as they’ve got a different consistency. After all, galettes are made using buckwheat whereas crepes use wheat flour. Crepes then became popular all over France.
Nowadays, the crepe has become international. With pancakes in the English-speaking world, blinis in the East, and tortillas in Mexico, there are variations on the crepe all over the world. Each nation cooks a version of something akin to crepes according to the ingredients they have on hand.
Find out more about easy recipes for beginners.
How to Make Crepe Batter
Now that you know the history of the crepe, it’s time to make some for yourself.
For a good crepe, you need to make a good batter. If the batter is bad, there’s no way your crepe will be good. They’ll either be too sticky, too thick, too floury, etc.
For around a dozen crepes:
- 250g of flour
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 5g of salt
- 4 eggs
- 450ml of milk
- 50g of melted butter
Making crepe batter isn’t that complicated; it’s really easy. The important thing is to get the consistency right.
To start, grab a large mixing bowl or salad bowl. To make sure it’s not lumpy, you’ll want to sieve the flour before pouring it in. Make a well in the centre of the flour and start mixing in the eggs.
With a whisk, mix the eggs and flour. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking. Finally, sprinkle in the salt and sugar. A small pinch should suffice. Add the softened butter and add in the rest of the milk. You can also reduce the amount of milk by using warm water.
Mix until you get a homogeneous batter. Your batter needs to be a smooth liquid. However, it needs to be thicker than water. The more you make crepes, the better you’ll know the ideal consistency.
Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two.
Looking to make something more substantial?
Once you’ve got the batter right, it’ll be hard to mess up cooking your crepes. However, crepes are traditionally made on a special hotplate. If you don’t have one, though, you can always use a non-stick frying pan.
Heat the empty pan first. If the pan isn’t hot enough when you add the first crepe, you run the risk of it sticking. Once your pan’s up to heat, add the oil using a paper towel or rag. You need to do this between each crepe so that they don’t stick to the pan.
You can use a ladle to pour the batter into the centre of the pan. Tilt the pan to help the batter to spread across it. Cook each crepe for a minute or two on one side. If your pan is hot enough, the crepe should cleanly come off the pan.
Now it’s time to flip your crepe. If you’re brave enough, you can do this with just the pan and no other utensils. This is the fun part. If you don’t feel like flipping the crepe, you can always turn it over using a spatula.
Cook the other side for around a minute, serve and add your toppings. Your first crepe is ready!
How to Make Savoury Crepes
If you feel like making some traditional Breton savoury crepes, here’s how.
Ingredients for Breton galettes:
- 330g of buckwheat flour
- 10g of coarse salt
- 750ml of cold water
- 1 egg
You’ve probably noticed that there’s no milk here. Water is the main ingredient in galettes.
Mix the flour and salt like you would for crepes. Slowly add the water, mixing with a whisk. Mix until you get a homogeneous batter. Finally, add an egg and mix.
You can cover with a tea towel put the mix in the fridge for a couple of hours. Now you can cook them the same way you would a crepe. Make sure you regularly grease your pan.
After something savoury?
Cooking Vegan Crepes
If you want to enjoy crepes while still sticking to a vegan diet, here’s how.
- 500g of flour
- 1 litre of soy milk
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 100ml of beer or cider
To make vegan crepe batter, mix the flour and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Lightly warm your soy milk. Mix the soy milk in with the flour.
Add the beer or cider. You can also use sparkling water. The goal is to use the bubbles to aerate the batter. Mix one last time before letting the batter sit for 20 minutes.
You just need to cook it like you would any other crepe or galette.
Toppings for Crepes
The batter isn’t the only place you can change the recipe for crepes. You can also choose what you put on them.
Sweet crepes are often served with chocolate, butter, sugar, or jam. However, you can also add ice cream, caramel, or other dessert ingredients.
You could also add some cheese, like brie, with jam, for a sweet-savoury mix.
The most popular savoury crepe is arguably the cheese and ham crepe. You can also crack an egg onto it just as you’re finishing the crepe so that the egg cooks but the crepe doesn’t burn.
There are plenty of variations of crepes in Brittany. One of the most popular is the rum crepe. You can add a few tablespoons of rum once you’ve finished making your crepe batter.
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You can also add olive oil, beer, cider, etc. You can let your imagination run wild with crepes.
Now it’s over to you!
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