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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crêpes

When I was growing up, I took crepes for granted.  While they were called nalieśniki in Polish [literally meaning something for hazelnuts] or palačinke in Serbian, they were just crêpes by another name.  One of my favorite blogs about food happens to be called Palachinka [the singular of palačinke] and has beautiful photos and great recipes.

Having a bit of time on my hands this week-end, I attempted to make crêpes.  Most of the recipes were similar.  The hard parts were knowing when to flip the crepes over and how to flip them so they wouldn't tear.  It was a good thing that I was making the crêpes for dessert and we didn't need that many ... about half of the batter served as practice.

There are lots of recipes on the web for crêpes, by whatever name you want to call them.  I ended up using the classic French recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking   Things worked well, except for Julia's suggestion to flip the crêpes by "grasp[ing] the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle ..." By the time I thought it was time to turn the first crepe, the pan was hot, and burning my finger tips was not on my to do list.  Her other idea of "toss it [the crepe] over by a flip of the pan" I put on the to do someday, if at all, list.  Finally, I followed here third alternative:  use 2 spatulas.

Here is a photo of a moderately good beginning.
Through trial and lots of error, I found that patience is a friend.  Once the crêpe bubbles up at bit, like in the photo, make yourself wait a few more seconds. Trying to turn it over too soon just means that it will tear or fold over on itself causing the top, as yet uncooked, side to stick to itself.  The more you let it cook, the easier it is to turn over.

In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, the are two basic recipes for crêpes.  Here is the one for crêpes fines sucrées, which I served with maple syrup and plum jam, either rolled up or folded in quarters like a handkerchief.
The recipe, on p. 650, is said to make 10 to 12 crepes 6 inches in diameter, or in my case about half that amount.

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cold water
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoon orange liqueur, rum, or brandy
1 cup flour 
5 tablespoons melted butter

An electric blender
A rubber scraper
An iron skillet or a crêpe pan with a 6 1/2- to 7-inch bottom diameter
2 to 3 tablespoon cooking oil and a pastry brush
A ladle or measure to hold 3 to 4 tablespoon or 1/4 cup

Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hour or overnight.

Brush the skillet lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke.

Immediately remove from heat and, holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. (Pour any batter that does not adhere back into your bowl [sounds good in theory, but I could not figure out how to do  it]; judge the amount of your next crêpe accordingly.)  This whole operation takes but 2 or 3 seconds.

Return the pan to heat for 60 to 80 seconds. Then jerk and toss the pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crêpe. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crêpe is ready for turning.

Turn the crêpe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan.

Brown lightly for about 1/2 minute on the other side. This second side is rarely more than a spotty brown, and is always kept as the underneath or nonpublic aspect of the crêpe. As they are done, slide the crêpes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate [I skipped this part and things still turned out fine]. Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and proceed with the rest of the crêpesCrêpes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in a slow oven. Or they may be made several hours in advance and reheated when needed. Crêpes freeze perfectly.)

As soon as you are used to the procedure, you can keep 2 pans going at once, and make 24 crêpes in less than half an hour. [Or you can sacrifice the fun and go to Trader Joe's and buy a package of the perfectly frozen ones.]


3 comments:

  1. Jasmina, this recipe works best for me -- (from Alexandra Carlier/Ten Late Breakfasts)
    1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    pinch of salt
    3 extra large eggs
    scant 2 cups of milk
    1 tbsp light oil
    1-2 tbsp of Cognac
    finely grated zest of 1 lemon

    I usually make them in 2 Circulon pans simultaneously, which makes it go incredibly fast. The right ladle is important - so you have the right amount of batter for each crepe - I make mine impossibly thin. (I usually adjust the density of the batter by adding more milk.) I also do not beat batter with mixer; I strain the batter through a dense sieve - if overbeat, you have to wait for the bubbles and foam to settle. And, of course, the first and the last one are to be given to the dog.

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  2. I will try your recipe next. I recently bought ready made crepes at the grocery store. Big mistake.

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  3. I find that the less milk used (and replaced with water) the more dough-y they are. The more milk, the more crispy they turn out.

    I sadly don't have a recipe as my mum never had one. Gotta love the passed down "od prilike" recipes!

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