Many of us are following the Christmas and New Year festivities with another period of lockdown, which, in the depths of winter, doesn’t look like a whole lot of fun.
The flipside (geddit?), though, is that it’s just the excuse we were looking for to spend more time in our kitchens perfecting our culinary savoir-faire. And with just six weeks to go until Shrove Tuesday, we think it’s perfectly fair to start practising our crêpe-making skills. Warning: you will unfortunately have to eat any that don’t work out too well… as well as the ones that do.
Of course, in France, they don’t have so long to wait as Pancake Day is celebrated on February 2 as part of the Catholic holiday of la Chandeleur.
It was in the run-up to another French holiday, le 14 juillet, that I was taught to make crêpes by a Frenchman named Didier. As a 19-year-old I was working as a courier on a campsite in the Gard département, and one of my duties was to organise regular socials, such as cheese and wine evenings, for our holidaymakers. With Bastille Day upon us, I thought it’d be a good idea to host a crêpe evening… I reckon I made several hundred over a few hours from the very sweaty kitchen of a mobile home on the campsite! We didn’t have any weighing scales but Didier’s recipe worked a treat. Why not give it a go yourself?
How to make crêpes…
Take a large bowl and half fill it with plain flour.
Mix in one sachet of vanilla sugar.
Make a well in the middle and crack in two medium eggs.
Pour in a walnut-sized glug of olive oil.
Mix up a litre of 50% whole milk and 50% water.
Add some of the liquid slowly into the well and stir in the flour from around it. Keep adding the liquid slowly, stirring in more flour until you have the right consistency (the batter should still have body but not be too thick or it will end up as pancakes rather than crêpes) − and no lumps, of course!
Heat your frying pan without any oil in it until it is hot then turn down to a medium heat.
Ladle some of the mixture into the pan and tilt the pan around so it spreads to the edges. This is where there’s some guesswork – you will learn very quickly exactly how much batter to put in your pan to get the correct thickness of crêpe. And if they’re too spongy, try adding a little more milk/water to your batter.
Expect your first one or two to be rubbish as you get the pan to the right temperature and perfect your mixture.
With a palette knife, loosen the edges of the crêpe, give it a good shake to loosen it from the pan and flip it over.
You can make a whole batch and refrigerate them if you wish; the batter will also keep in the fridge for several days.
Enjoy sprinkled with sugar and lemon, chocolate spread, fruit… whatever your heart desires.