1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp almond essence
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
My father was the cook when I was a child. He made us eat all sorts of strange rustic French food from his region – so much so that it was always a bit touch and go when I invited friends over. He once disturbed a slumber party by ambushing one of my vegetarian friends with a pig’s head he was planning to slow cook into pâté overnight. Nothing personal. He just has a strange idea of what fun looks like.
Obviously one of the least traumatic things he cooked for our fairly regular long-table francophone and francophile dinners, was crepes. And boy did that crepe recipe make me come back for seconds, and thirds, until I could barely move. To maximise my chances of devouring my fill, I used to helpfully (can you see the halo?) volunteer to be the ‘runner’ between the stovetop and the dining room, as my dad would pump the thinnest, softest and most golden crepes out as fast as he could.
Years later, my housemates in Melbourne could always tell when I was super stressed at uni because they’d find me methodically swishing batter around a frying pan at 3am. I wasn’t a midnight snacker or anything. I just find the whole process of making crepes particularly cathartic, requiring almost meditative concentration and repetition. All I can say is, they never complained about waking up to a stack of them in the morning!
Seemingly tricky if you don’t have any nifty & swish equipment, crepe making can be a bit of an art, and one that you only get good at if you practice. What a shame.
There are a few things that will really help. a) A great non-stick pan. Nothing worse than battling with a delicious crepe that you eventually have to scrape off and into the bin (or into your mouth) because you couldn’t turn it over, b) A long and narrow plastic or wooden crepe spatula. Not the wide ones you use to flip burgers. The other kind, and c) A ladle. Keeps things uncomplicated on the mess and measurement front.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt, making a small puits or well in the centre. In the hole add the eggs and, using a wooden spoon, carefully combine.
- Then add the melted butter and stir to combine. At this stage the texture is perfect to iron out lumps and to ensure the flour mixture is nice and smooth. Then add almond and vanilla essences, and gradually add in the milk, stirring to combine. Beat until smooth. Now gradually add the water.
- To gauge whether the consistency is right, my dad taught me a neat trick. Dip a dessert spoon into the batter, then on the back make a horizontal line through the batter with your finger. If the batter just drips over the line, then your consistency is perfect. If it’s too sloppy, it’ll simply slide down over the line and erase its existence. In this case put the batter aside for 15 mins as the flour will expand and hopefully the consistency will thicken. Too much sticky viscosity? It won’t breach the line and you know you need to add more water.
- In any case, put batter aside for 15 mins, covered with cling wrap. Then do the test again, adding a dash of water if needed.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-to-high heat. Using your ladle, scoop about a 3/4 ladle of mixture into the frying pan. Then grab the pan and do a bit of a rotation of the pan to coat the whole surface evenly. You may need to change direction right at the end if you have a gap that needs filling. While you’re experimenting with the first few attempts to find the right dosage of batter, you can dip the ladle back in and fill the gaps once the pan’s back on the heat. Those crepes will still taste good.
- Cook the crepe until you can see big bubbles of air forming under neath and the side of the crepe browning/crisping a little bit. Another way to tell if it’s ready to flip is that the side facing you will still be wet but no longer runny, which means you can flip it without fear of getting batter everywhere. With a spatula, carefully loosen the sides, then underneath the crepe, and flip it over. You won’t need to cook the second side nearly as long, so keep an eye on it.
- Stack them on a dinner plate, and serve hot. You can top them with anything you like. Our favourites at home were always nutella, lemon and raw sugar, and jam.
- Folding crepes is a lot of fun for kids too. You don’t need to cover the entire crepe with topping to get a delicious mouthful. Just smear a line of your chosen topping down the middle. The sides with topping, fold them over just a little (1 cm), then roll the crepe up in the opposite direction. It’s like making a little rolled up crepe package, so the topping doesn’t fall out the bottom. Enjoy!