There are very few culinary inventions more versatile than a crepe.
With just a bit of flour, milk, egg and butter, you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, appetizers — dressed for fine dining or quickly rolled, served hot or cold or even ablaze in a sauce of syrupy liquor. You can have them savory, filled with meats or cheese or vegetables smothered in a creamy sauce. You can have them sweet, stuffed with whipped cream or ice cream and topped with nuts, fruit and chocolate fudge. You can even stack them layered with sweet cream to make a refined cake with the most unique texture.
There are also nearly endless variations of crepe batter beyond the basic plain pan bread. Try adding pureed spinach and herbs to the batter, matcha, cocoa, curry spices or pumpkin puree. Try adding extracts or sweet liqueurs to impart sophisticated flavors. With this dish, the flavor options are as infinite as your imagination.
Mastering this simple recipe is an attainable goal even for first-time cooks, and with supervision, even school-age children can try their hand at rolling the batter around the pan and flipping the crepe with a satisfying slap.
The two most important points for successful crepe making are temperature control and speed: manage your heat and move quickly, and you won’t fail.
One caveat — this process is a lot easier if you have a high-quality nonstick pan. Of course, it can be done with basically any large fry pan, but if things tend to stick in your pan, you’ll need to grease it between each batch, which might trip you up or slow you down.
And, as with basically all pan-fried breads, the first one is meant to be ugly — it’s for the cook to sample and approve before going ahead with the rest of the batter… you might also “sample” another one halfway through, just to be sure.
Ingredients for plain crepes — makes about 8
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup water
2 tablespoons cooled, melted butter
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, milk, water and eggs until very smooth. You could also use a blender for this to be positive there are no lumps, but a thorough whisking works just fine.
Drizzle in your melted butter and whisk (or blend) until incorporated.
You might consider running the batter through a sieve at this point to catch any lumps or egg proteins. This will guarantee a perfectly smooth batter and consistent crepes.
Heat your pan over medium heat. If you need to grease your pan, have a pastry brush and some clarified butter at the ready — you will need to brush a thin layer over the pan before every addition of batter.
When the pan is hot, pour a bit of batter in.
Immediately lift the pan off the heat and swirl the batter around to cover the pan in a very thin layer. How much batter you need will depend on the size of your pan. Use the first attempt to inform your batch size.
The edges will start to lift first as the crepe cooks. Use a rubber spatula to lift the sides and check underneath for doneness. When the crepe moves freely in the pan and the bottom has some golden spots, it’s time to flip.
Carefully lift the crepe with the spatula and flip it quickly over. Do your best to aim it so the crepe lands flat on the pan. Crepes that land half on the edge are more likely to rip.
When the crepe moves freely again and the bottom has turned golden, remove from the pan and stack on a plate to hold.
Repeat the process until all the batter is gone.