Traditional French crêpes
Writing Seed to Feed has been a true pleasure for me in two ways. First, every week I am introduced to a connection between Pacificans and the foods they love. The traditions and stories we share are universal in nature and span wide cultural divides. Family and friendships are the core of these connections.
Second, and most exciting for me, is discovering the key technique or ingredient that makes a recipe special. This weeks recipe for traditional French crêpes meet both of those conditions. The brown butter used in this recipe is so distinguished an ingredient, I am including a second video for making it.
Originating in the Brittany region of France, crêpes are a part of the French culinary tradition.
Edwige Gamache and her family in Pacifica make these crêpes regularly with friends and the traditions being handed down generation to generation are precious. Born in Suresnes in the western suburbs of Paris, Edwige recalls some of the experiences which have brought personal significance to this iconic French preparation.
"French people make crêpes, sweet or savory, anytime during the year but particularly in the beginning of February, during Candlemas" said Gamache.
Recalling how her one-handed crepe flipping skills were developed, Gamache said, "When I was child and made crêpes with my mother or grandmother, [I would] hold a coin in one hand and trying to flip the crêpe in the pan with the other hand without dropping it on the ground at the risk of losing my coin."
After moving to Pacifica in 1998 when she met her partner Joyce, Gamache started a family and has enjoyed the community and friendships they have cultivated over the years. Max and Matisse, their children, are students at Ocean Shore School.
In conveying the secrets to the recipe, Gamache emphasizes respect for the measurements in the recipe and taking the time to brown the butter--"A step not to be missed."
Crêpes have become immensely popular in the United States over the last decade and you can get a decent one at any number of Bay Area eateries, including our own . Making your own crêpes is not difficult and can be a wonderful way for a family to work together to prepare a dinner or dessert treat.
Making traditional French crêpes
- 2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat or gluten free will work as well)
- 8 ounces butter, melted and browned
- 4 eggs
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla, if making dessert crepes
Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center of it. Crack the eggs into the well and whisk in half of the milk. Gradually whisk in the flour, adding more milk slowly. Mix thoroughly with a whisk. When the batter is smooth, pour in the hot brown butter and mix thoroughly. Add the vanilla if necessary. The batter may be used at once or saved in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Getting the heat just right takes practice, so be patient. Grease lightly a blue steel crêpe pan or non-stick skillet. Add one and a half or two ounces of batter and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the batter is set and starts to brown, flip the crêpe and fill with warm filling and cheese for savory crêpes or your favorite sweet filling. I always use warm filling so cheese melts and the crêpes are warm when eaten. Folding the crêpes the long way or in quarters around the filling both work fine. Serve immediately.
Almost anything tastes great in crêpes. Just experiment with cheeses and various savory fillings or fruit, Nutella, whipped cream and anything else you might want to try.
Check out the video in the gallery to the right for more on making this French dish.
This recipe based on an original from Tante Maria's Cooking School.