People seem to be baffled by the simple crepe. New cooks in training – whether in a continuing education class or a formal culinary school – share the same perplexed look on their face when confronted with the class on “How do you make a great crepe?” Unfortunately, the mystique of French cooking seems to cloud the view of a relatively simple recipe.
First, go into the entire process with a sense that you really cannot make a bad crepe. Most of your results from the pan will be wonder delights – even if they are not the classic “thin” crepe. Chefs will tell you that if your crepe does not turn out as thin as you wish, then merely dust them with a little sugar or dab on a bit of topping or filling and enjoy your “mistake” yourself. Then make another perfect crepe, for your guests because the secret is to practice.
Start, as always, with the “set up” or the “mise en place”, which is French for “everything in place”. Have your utensils, bowls and ingredients right where you need them – which will include four eggs, one-fourth of a teaspoon of salt, two cups of flour, two and one-fourth cups of milk, one-fourth of a cup of melted butter and the fillings of your choice – including jams or cheeses, even ham or turkey –the possibilities are endless.
You will need to a mixing bowl, a whisk, a fork, a wooden spoon, a spatula, some plastic wrap and, of course, your pan or crepe maker. The difference is that a crepe pan is a very shallow skillet or flat griddle that heats up very fast. This allows crepes to cook in seconds. An electric model is a bit more involved. Designed specifically for making crepes, it can be the type that sits on a heating element – such as a stovetop – or come with its own separate heating element. Crepe makers are usually more expensive – between $35 and $300 – because it is specifically shaped and designed for making crepes, thus, producing a more “perfect” crepe more consistently.
When you have all of your cooking elements and ingredients set up, break your eggs into the mixing bowl and add the salt as you whisk the eggs. Continue whisking until the eggs have a consistent yellow color. Then begin adding the flour as you whisk the eggs, along with the milk. Alternate the flour and milk as you continue whisking until the batter is smooth. This whole process of whisking and adding flour and milk should take about two minutes. Now you can add the melted butter and continue to whisk until the butter is thoroughly mixed into the batter.
At this point, you can cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. You can actually keep the batter refrigerated for several days before using or use it immediately.
Now it is time to heat you pan. Since it is a non-stick surface, you can pour a small amount batter directly in the pan. Just remember; a small amount goes a long way, especially since you will swirl the batter around the pan, covering the entire surface with a thin layer of goodness. In just a few seconds, lift an edge of the crepe with the spatula. If it is firm you can flip it to the other side for a few more seconds, then slide it out of the pan onto a plate, fill with jam, cheese, turkey, ham – anything you like – roll into a cylinder and enjoy!