Dear devoted fans and followers (hi Mom),
As I’m sure you are aware, I haven’t really been posting anything here. It’s not that I don’t have time or that I’ve stopped cooking, it’s just that since arriving in the sunny Mediterranean town of Menton, I haven’t really made anything special. Breakfast is usually fruit, fromage frais, or some type of eggs, lunch is maybe a salad or a sandwich, dinner is quinoa or couscous or rice with lentils and chick peas, dessert is whatever I happen to have in my cabinet. But this morning, Carmen (one of the women who works at my dormitory, the Villa Jasmin) taught me how to make French crêpes, which of course was worth an update.
In terms of time and ingredients, crêpes are very simple to make; it’s the technique that makes them taste really special. Because crêpes are so thin, you have to really make sure there are no lumps in the batter — and there’s no cheating on this. Aside from this one crucial point, there are many different ways to make crêpes; recipes vary by region and family tradition. You’ll notice that this recipe uses oil instead of butter — that’s because it comes from the south, in an area very near the Italian border. Another French woman who works at the Villa Jasmin was telling me that the best way to make crêpes is with warm milk, because it melts away the dreaded grumeaux (new vocab word: lumps). There is also, of course, an infinite choice of things to put in your crêpes: butter, sugar, nutella, chocolate sauce, ice cream, whipped cream, lemon juice, orange juice, Grand Marnier, or you could go the savory route and fill them with meat, cheese, and veggies. I mixed my batter with orange flower extract, and opted for sugar, lemon juice, strawberries, and whipped cream for the filling.
-300 grams (about 2 cups) of flour
-1 tbsp orange flower extract
-1 tbsp neutral oil (plus more for greasing the pan)
-1/2 liter (about 2 cups) of milk
-1 packet of active yeast
-1 packet of vanilla sugar (or 1 tbsp of vanilla extract)
-Recommended filling: sugar, lemon juice, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream
Step 1: Measure 300 grams of flour and add to a mixing bowl.
Step 2: Make a hole in the center of the flour and add eggs, orange flower extract, and oil.
Step 3: Beat the egg mixture in the middle of the ring of flour. The flour will fall in and incorporate very gradually, which will prevent lumps from forming.
Step 4: When the flour is about halfway incorporated, measure out 1/2 liter of milk. Pour into the center gradually, while continuing to beat the batter and incorporate the flour until batter is formed. Make sure to beat the batter vigorously.
Step 5: Add yeast and vanilla sugar (or extract).
Step 6: Cover with a dishtowel and let sit for an hour.
Step 7: Set up your workspace! Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat. Pour a small amount of neutral oil into a bowl and lightly dunk a paper towel into the oil. Move the batter near the stove, and set up a ladle, spatula, and plate nearby. If the batter looks lumpy or too liquidy, add a little more milk and beat vigorously until it pours in smooth ribbons.
Step 8: When the pan is hot, lightly swirl the paper towel dunked in oil around the bottom and sides of the pan.
Step 9: Pour about half a ladle of batter into the center of the pan. Swirl the pan until the bottom is coated with batter and the batter is no longer viscous. The crêpe should be very thin!
(this one’s a little too thick in the middle)
Step 10: When the edges of the batter become stiff and start to lift off the edges of the pan, it’s time to flip your crêpe!
Step 12: At this point, the crêpe is mostly cooked, so you should only leave it on for a few more seconds before flipping it onto your plate. Repeat steps 8-12 until the batter is finished, then add the filling of your choice.