Crêpes

French Crêpes (dessert)

Reminds us of sojourning in Paris (Best Kept Secrets, Off-the-Beaten-Path and Quintessential Sojourns)

3/4 Cup Flour

2 TBS Sugar

Pinch of Salt

2 Eggs + 1 Yolk

2/3 cup of Milk

1/4 cup of Water

1 TBS Orange Blossom Water

2 TBS melted Butter

crepes

This recipe for crêpes is a bit heavier than the one I usually use but the extra starch makes it easier to flip the crêpes… which is essential on the French holiday called Chandeleur.

The Chandeleur is the French version of “Groundhog’s Day”.  At it’s root, February 2nd is a Catholic celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the temple forty days after his birth, called “Candlemas” in English. The popular traditions spur from a Biblical passage saying that the baby brought light to the world.  As a result, this became a popular day to begin to look for signs that the darkest season of the year would be coming to an end and sunnier seasons were returning.

In France some churches still hold candlelight masses but most people have forgotten the religious origins of this day. Just as Americans have come to associate February 2nd more with a chubby marmot than the church, it has come to be thought of as “Pancake Day” in France.

Why crêpes? Some say that crêpes became a popular food for the Chandeleur because they are round and golden like the sun, which we long to see again after a hard winter.

Families don’t just eat crêpes together on the Chandeleur: they prepare them together.  Though few people are really superstitious, everyone is amused by using the crêpes to tell their fortune.  For fun, people joke that if you can successfully flip the crêpes with a coin in your hand you will have a prosperous year.

We’ve had lots of laughs over the years celebrating the Chandeleur with friends, neighbors and even some of Francis’ French students.  It makes a marvelous social gathering filled with comical blunders and yummy treats.

Crêpes Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Slowly mix in the wet ingredients using a fork (try to avoid creating lumps).  Let the batter sit for about 20 minutes.

Heat a crêpe pan or regular frying pan over medium to medium high heat.  When the skillet is hot, pour about 1/4cup of batter in the center of the pan.  It should begin to cook immediately so quickly begin tilting the pan away from you.  Then work the batter around the edges of the pan counterclockwise by tilting the pan.  When the bottom of the pan is entirely coated with batter, you should pour any excess batter back into the mixing bowl.  Crêpes should be very thin.

The first crêpe  will be your “tester” to get the heat perfect.  Crêpes should cook fairly quickly.  You need the pan hot enough that the batter begins to harden the moment it touches the pan so that you can coat the bottom of the pan properly. However, you should be able to take a little pause for a few seconds before flipping the crêpes.  If the crêpe is cooking so quickly that you don’t have to wait to flip it or find that it is burning before you can flip it, lower the heat a bit.  Getting the heat right will take some practice, so don’t get discouraged.

FLIPPING: There are several signs that will indicate that it is time to flip the crêpe.  When you see any one of these signs you can flip it: 1) the crepe begins to get a bit brown around the edges, air bubbles have appeared under the surface in several places, 3) the steam coming from the bottom intensifies, 4) there is a nice crêpe aroma in the air.

  1. Place a coin in your hand.
  2. Loosen the crêpe from the pan.  You may need to gently detach it from the edges with a wooden spatula. Shake the pan back and forth a bit to make sure the crêpe is completely detached.
  3. To flip the crêpe, you will make a circular motion in the air as if to draw a small bass drum strapped on your chest.  To get the crêpe airborne, begin drawing the circle: holding the pan near your chest start to draw the bottom of the drum by pushing down and away from you quickly, when you’ve drawn the bottom arch of the circle and your arm is almost fully extended the crêpe will fly into the air driven by inertia as you continue to draw the pan around to make the top of the circle.  You must move fast, and the crêpe must be detached from the pan, because you are essentially pulling the pan out from under the crêpe midair. Don’t stop drawing that circle with the pan… you are not done yet!
  4. To catch the crêpe, you’ll just continue to make the same circular motion with the pan uninterrupted.  When you’ve completed the bottom half of the arch for the second time, you’ll be at the same location where the crêpe lifted off; Stop here and wait for the crêpe to land in the pan. If you’ve thrown the crêpe high enough, it will have flipped over in the air and be coming back down to land in your pan.

To summarize: To flip and catch the crêpe, you will be drawing a circle and a half in one continuous motion.

FILLINGS: This is a recipe for sweet crêpes.  Popular fillings include: fresh lemon juice & sugar; nutella (a chocolate-hazelnut spread); bananas with whipped cream and chocolate, and in the summer strawberries & fresh whipped cream are particularly good.

Good luck!  We wish you a prosperous year.

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