Lately, I’ve been on a pancake bender, or more precisely, a crêpe fling.
It all started with an item I saw on a restaurant menu a month ago: Pink Lady Apple Crêpes with Prune Armagnac Ice Cream. It sounded so good I had to go the whole nine yards for some friends who were coming for dinner soon.
Crêpes are easy to make and kids can have fun with the fillings, which could be just about anything, sweet or savory. Crêpes freeze well after they are baked, so you can always have a stack ready for spur of the moment rainy day entertainment or a way to dress up leftovers for a party.
You don’t need any fancy equipment, but a small non-stick skillet or a few French crêpe pans make the job a lot easier. Once properly seasoned they work like a charm. I have two crêpe pans that I use for nothing else. They only need a quick wipe with a towel after use, and a bit of butter melted in the bottom when heating the next time.
At Chez Panisse we used Lindsey Shere’s crêpe recipe, to which I’ve made a few minor changes. These have a bit of buckwheat flour to add a nutty taste and whole grain texture like none other. If you don’t have buckwheat flour, substitute whole wheat. The addition of beer makes the crêpes lighter.
Alan Tangren worked at Chez Panisse for over twenty years, where as Co-Pastry Chef he was a collaborator with Alice Waters on books like Chez Panisse Fruit and Chez Panisse Vegetables. As DooF’s Director of Food Operations. He ensures that the show depicts food with historical accuracy and the same attention to detail with which Chez Panisse changed the way Americans think about food.
Lindsey Shere’s Buckwheat Crêpes
Makes 1 quart of batter, enough for 30 6-inch crepes
- 2 cups milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon flour
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
- 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup beer (with or without alcohol)
Heat milk, salt, sugar and butter in a small saucepan until butter has melted. Measure flours into a mixing bowl, make a well in it, put in the oil and break in the eggs.
Mix with a whisk until mixture thickens. Beat in the warm milk mixture in driblets until batter is smooth, then add the rest in a thin stream. Mix in the beer, strain and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir occasionally to prevent butter from separating. Will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
To bake the crêpes, heat a small non-stick skillet or crêpe pan over medium heat until drops of water shaken onto the pan skitter about. Wipe a paper towel across some softened butter and butter the pan with it.
Dip a ¼ cup measure into the batter until about half full. Pour into the pan, shaking and rotating the pan to coat the bottom evenly. If there are holes, patch with a little more batter.
Cook for about a minute, until the edges of the crepe are a medium brown. With a table knife, loosen the edges of the crepe and use your fingers to grasp it at the near side and flip it over. Cook for another 20 seconds or so and turn out onto a plate. Continue until all the batter is used.
Use right way or let crêpes cool. Crêpes may be wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two, or frozen for up to a month.
Crêpes can be filled with just about anything edible. Warm crêpes spread with a little jam, folded in half and sprinkled with sugar are the best. I filled my crepes with Pink Pearl apples, sliced and sautéed with a little butter and sugar.