How To Cook Perfect Crêpes

There is nothing quite like a piping hot homemade French crêpe, topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. I remember making these in French classes back in the day, and we always looked forward to taking the class time off to make this quintessential French treat.

Cooking the perfect crêpe, however, can be a difficult task. You want the batter to be spread as thinly as possible in the pan and you need to flip it without tearing it. And you can pretty much bet that the first crêpe you make is going to have to be tossed out.

You need to work quickly when making crêpes, but once you get the hang of it, they really are a cinch to make. The batter comes together in minutes and in one bowl, and it only takes a minute or two to cook each crêpe, depending its size and thickness. Make sure the pan is hot before you pour the batter in, and immediately swirl the pan in your hand to get the thinnest possible coating of the batter for the crêpe. After that, it just becomes a matter of flipping the crêpe halfway, removing it from the pan, and topping it with whatever your heart desires (I personally prefer mine with a little lemon and sugar).

Crêpes are a fantastic and versatile classic. The crêpe itself is not very sweet, so you can go with sweeter or more savory fillings. They are great to have around for family breakfasts or brunches with the girls, and you can have an assembly line going so everyone can fill their own crêpe as they come out of the pan. They are best served fresh, but you can also store the crêpes in the fridge and reheat them for a few seconds in the microwave before filling and eating.

One of my very first French teachers introduced me to this recipe — it’s simple and easy, and I’ve been using it for years. I posted it a while back on this blog, here, and am re-posting it now (along with new pictures!) just for easier referencing. It really is a fantastic recipe.

Crêpes

Adapted from La Technique by Jacques Pépin

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Wisk until smooth: flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and half the milk. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  2. Heat skillet or crêpe pan on medium-high heat. You do not need to grease the skillet, but if you like, a small dab of butter before you make the first crêpe could help. Add approximately 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan per crêpe, and adjust as necessary for different pan sizes. Be sure to stir the batter thoroughly before adding it to the skillet, as it can become clumpy.
  3. Cook crêpes on medium heat for approximately 50 seconds or until the thin edges begin to curl up and small bubbles form in the middle. Flip, then cook for about 30 seconds on the other side.
Fill your crêpes just before eating and roll them closed. I love to keep mine simple with a squeeze of lemon and some sugar, but other possible fillings include Nutella or chocolate sauce, caramel, jellies, fresh fruit (with whipped cream, if you like), ham and cheese, etc. Enjoy!

{Images: photographs by me — please feel free to use, just leave a credit/link!}

the best crêpe recipe

I’ve had this crêpe recipe for quite a few years now. One of my old French teachers used to make these for our class (and let us make them with her as well), and they were always a treat! I always had mine with a little lemon and sugar, but the wonderful thing about crêpes is that you can get creative with the toppings. As long as you start with a good base crêpe (the freezer ones — if you can find them — just don’t compare), the final result will be delicious.

According to the Word doc I’ve had saved on my computer all these years, the recipe is from La Technique by Jacques Pépin.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 sticks butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup water

Preparation

  1. Wisk until smooth: flour, eggs, sugar, salt and 1/2 of the milk.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
  2. Use a teflon-lined pan, 5″ to 6″ in diameter. Heat skillet on a medium to high flame. You do not need to grease the skillet. Hold pan slightly tilted and pour about 3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan, quickly rotating it so that the batter has a chance to cover the hot pan. (The thinner the coating the better the crêpes.)
  3. Cook crêpes on medium heat for about 50 seconds, then loosen the crêpe with a wooden spatula, flip the crêpe over and cook approximately 30 seconds on the other side.  You will notice that the side which has browned first is nicer than the other, stack them with the nice side down so that when they are rolled or folded they look nicer.

These are honestly quite easy to make. Although a crêpe pan would be ideal for making these, I just use a regular skillet and that always works fine. And if you have to scrap a few (or more than a few) crêpes in the beginning, do not be daunted! Flipping them takes some time to get used to, and the first couple usually get thrown out regardless of one’s culinary skill.

Finally, what would be the purpose of crêpes without filling? Try experimenting with your own — almost anything is possible — or try some of the ones my French teacher suggested:

  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and sugar (my personal favorite)
  • Chocolate — Hershey’s, Nutella (yum!), etc.
  • Jellies in any flavor
  • Fresh fruit (try mixing with whipped cream!)
  • Ham or chicken & cheese
  • Tomato & cream cheese

Enjoy!

{ Source: Images used in collage (clockwise from top right) from foodnetwork.com (separate recipe included), closetcooking.blogspot.com, vanillabasil.blogspot.com, and taste.com.au }