Don’t you just ADORE the sweet buttery scent of crepes wafting through your home? I find it intoxicating. I’m such an advocate of homemade snacks so when Patrick was reaching for packaged biscuits this afternoon I cried, “Noooo, I promise you I can have luscious vanilla crepes in front of you in 12 minutes.”
I think from a cooking and eating perspective the humble crepe often suffers from the association with a good yet gluttonous pancake experience – people get flashes of some messy past pancake affair when they’ve overdone it with maple syrup, mixed up a heavy batter that is 50% flour and taken all morning to churn out enough three-layered stacks for everyone at the breakfast table. Crepes, however, can be a sophisticated quick snack that sates your sweet tooth, leaves you feeling a little more virtuous and makes afternoon or morning tea a special occasion. Is there anything more pleasing than that moment when you bite through six layers of delicately folded crepe? I don’t want to be hating on pancakes, but you just don’t get that layer love!
Here are my tips for stress-free perfect crepes made for someone who is either starving, dieting, impatient or crepe-dubious:
BUT I’M TRYING TO BE HEALTHY
I know, I know. Aren’t we all. But you can actually make these fairly guilt-free. I often make crepes with no sugar in the batter and instead add vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence. It gives your crepes that delightful sweet aroma and that whimsical childhood flavour without actually adding any sweetener. Don’t forget to add cinnamon or ground cloves, which also fools your palate into associations with totally sugary desserts. I often cook with olive oil instead of butter to lubricate the pan. Rolled up as is, fragrant and hot from the pan, I don’t think a crepe needs a topping but you can always drizzle on a little honey.
CAN’T I JUST BUY THAT PRE-MADE BATTER?
Wash your mouth out. Get your pan on the stove on high and stick a small nob of butter in to melt. While it’s melting, whisk one egg per person and beat in some milk (about 3/4 cup). At this point I love to add vanilla bean paste and cinnamon. Whisk in some flour one tablespoon at a time. You want to add as little as possible (even just 2 tablespoons) to ensure a light batter. If you want, you can add a tablespoon of brown sugar to ensure that heavenly butterscotchy smell and taste of baked goods from Grandma. I also like to add a pinch of finely ground sea salt.
Pour your now melted butter into your batter but be sure to swirl it around the pan first to grease it for fuss-free flipping in a minute. The mistake some people make is cooking their crepes in a heap of butter and getting an oily, deep fried finish. You want a buttery flavour and an easy flip but you don’t want to shallow fry. Make sure your pan is very hot then pour a small amount of the batter into your pan and swirl it around by tipping the pan in a circle for thin even coverage of the entire pan.
I’M A FLIPPIN’ FAILURE
Don’t say that. Pan greased with that butter from earlier? Check. Spatula ready? Check. Have you waited until you see bubbles? Don’t even think about any flip action until your crepe has a few moon craters on it. Next gently shake the pan back and forth to check that your crepe is loose and not stuck to the bottom.
WE DON’T HAVE ANY MAPLE SYRUP OR NUTELLA AND I CAN’T BE BOTHERED DUCKING OUT TO THE SUPERMARKET
I’m so glad. As I wrote above, crepes can stand alone… or you can make my DELIRIOUSLY DELICIOUS orange and cinnamon sauce. In a small pan on a low heat combine equal parts butter and brown sugar, a generous spoonful of cinnamon and the juice of one orange. You want it to all caramelize and become a thick, unctuous almost-jammy but still pourable sauce.
Happy Friday!! Hope you’re at least crepe-curious…
P.S. If you like crepes, that means you must love brunch. Don’t miss my favourite brunch spots in London. And if you have a sweet tooth, check out Patrick’s moist rhubarb cake he made to surprise me and celebrate our show airing in Italy.