Every so often, I feel suddenly overwhelmed by an urge to drop my books, ditch my stuffy dorm room, and take to the kitchen. These yearnings—part peckishness, part culinary zeal—overtake me at unpredictable times, but when they do, crêpes are my go-to recipe. It matters not the time of day, nor what ingredients I have on hand; crêpes can be whipped up on a whim and enjoyed in a seemingly endless variety of ways. Because crêpes use only basic ingredients, a tedious trip to Weshop is rarely necessary. Moreover, depending on the choice of topping, crêpes can be either sweet or savory, and fill the role of a light, exotic snack, dessert, or even rich main course. This ability to conform to the wants and needs of the eater makes crêpes a perfect choice for the spontaneous cook.
Although the batter itself is more or less foolproof, the frying technique requires finesse and may take some time to master. If your crêpes are somehow flawed—if they turn out brittle or gummy, for example—then the problem most likely lies in your handling of the batter rather than in the batter itself (that’s right, its not the batter, its you). Excessive heat results in fragile, inelastic crêpes, while inadequate heat leaves them pale and mushy. A crêpe made with too much batter will end up heavy, difficult to flip, and prone to cracking. For first-timers, a little trial and error is par for the course.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the crêpe-cooking experience, once mastered, is the opportunity to exult in the graceful art of crêpe frying. A particularly daring cook—preferably equipped with a nonstick pan—may try flipping the crêpe without a spatula. To do so, fling the crêpe in the air by thrusting the pan in a gentle upward arc, and then catch it once it has completed a half turn. Of course, this takes practice, but once mastered, it is both immensely satisfying and impressive to onlookers.
1 cup flour
1 cup milk, plus more to adjust consistency
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Powdered sugar and cocoa
Walnuts and honey
Fried egg, ham, and goat cheese
Be creative, invent your own!
1. Combine flour, eggs, oil, and one cup milk in a mixing bowl. Whisk vigorously until smooth. While continuing to mix, add the remaining milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the batter has reached the consistency of maple syrup.
2. Using a heat-resistant pastry brush or oil-soaked paper towel, lightly grease a frying pan and keep it over medium heat. Using a ladle or measuring cup, spoon about 1/3 cup batter into the hot skillet, and immediately tilt the pan in all directions, and allow the batter to flow and spread evenly over the pan.
3. Once the edges of the crêpe have begun to brown, flip it. The second side will take much less time to cook than the first. Apply desired toppings and roll up the crêpe. Serve immediately.
4. Re-grease the pan before cooking each crêpe.
5. One final note: the first crêpe of each batch is almost always the ugliest. Adjust your expectations accordingly.