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PASTRY SAMPLER QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What flour should be used in making crêpes?
All About Crêpes - Recipes, Tips and More
By Renee Shelton
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I love crêpes, and not just because they taste great plain sprinkled with granulated sugar, but they are simple in preparation, can be made ahead, and can be stuffed with just about anything, sweet or savory.

The types of flour used in crêpes really depends on what types of crêpes you'll be making. When making plain crêpes, all purpose flour is generally used. You can find recipes for buckwheat crêpes or whole wheat crêpes, and those recipes use buckwheat flour or whole wheat flour respectively. Some recipes use a combination of specialty flours and all purpose flour, or pastry flour and all purpose flour.

There is no added leavening in crêpes; no baking powder or soda is added to the batter like regular pancake batters to help them fluff up. Also, crêpe batter is relatively thin compared to pancake and waffle batter. This is the key to the crêpes themselves. They are thin and can easily be formed and be folded in any number of ways after cooking for holding fillings. Crêpe batter is generally rested to relax the gluten, and allows for the flour to expand in the batter. This resting time also gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquids the batter is mixed with and can intensify flavors a touch. In Paul Bocuse's French Cooking, he writes:

It is important to prepare [the] batter at least 2 hours before using it; keep it in a warm place to produce an almost imperceptible fermentation.

Another advantage to resting the batter is that it just plain saves time and makes for great mise en place for cooking—one more thing to prepare in advance for you in the kitchen. And while the school of thought is to always rest the batter, I have made crêpes successfully without resting the batter when pressed for time, and Jacques Pepin says on his website that crêpes do not have to be rested.

My Tips:

  • After mixing, if you notice lumps don't fret: simply strain. I usually strain my crêpe batter in any case because it seems to help get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed in the batter. But it isn't necessary and most recipes do not call for straining.
  • If, after resting, the batter changes consistency and thickens, simply add a touch more liquid. The optimal consistency is have the batter run like cream.
  • When pouring the batter into the pan, make sure the pan is hot (or you may have to scrape the bottom to get the crêpe out). The first one or two made will probably soak up any excess fats used for greasing the pan, so they will generally be discarded.
  • Do not pour too much batter into the pan you're using. The key is thinness for crêpes, and if too much is added you risk the chance of having a very heavy, flat pancake. The simple way to know how much to use is to just do a sample run: place desired amount of batter onto prepared pan's surface and quickly swirl the pan to get the batter even. If it's too thick, use less and if doesn't coat the surface, use a little more. The amount will obviously change with different sizes of crêpe pans.
  • After finishing a crêpe, place on a towel-covered plate. When making crêpes for sweet applications, you can sprinkle very lightly each crêpe with granulated sugar before stacking another fresh one on top. Any crêpe when being made, should be stacked one on top of the other as they are being made. You really shouldn't have any problems with them sticking to one another and it helps keep them soft and fresh and prevents them from drying for use in your filling and rolling applications.
  • Crêpes can easily be refrigerated or frozen for advanced prep.
  • When making them, you will have an obvious 'presentation' side: the side that was cooked first. If folding or rolling use that side for the outside as it is the most attractive.

The last thing to know about crêpes is that they are not something left only for professionals to cook. You should have fun making them. While the name or cooking technique may be intimidating to those who have never made them, do not be tempted to purchase frozen crêpes for use in your cooking. If you want to save time, make your own and chill/freeze. You and your guests will definitely give thanks for the extra time cooking them for fresh made crêpes will always taste better than manufactured, whether or not they are perfect in shape.

Here are some great online tips and guides for crêpes that I've found. Maybe one or two will help you. Recipes from various sources are at the bottom.

  • From Jacques Pepin: Here is Jacques Pepin's technique and recipe for making crêpes. Also info on various thin pancakes from other cultures.
  • From the Alberta Egg Producers, here is how-to's on using the regular and upside-down versions of crêpe pans, with recipe and tips.
  • If you're just looking for recipes: from RecipeSource, here are many different recipes to try out, including recipes with curry powder, aramanth and garbanzo flour, regular and blue cornmeal, liqueurs, whole wheat and buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, chopped hazelnuts, Cream of Wheat, beer, herbs, and the list goes on.

Crêpes Ménagères (Crêpes home style)
Adapted from Paul Bocuse's French Cooking (my husband's signed copy, thanks Mr. Bocuse!). A basic dessert recipe.

2 1/2 c sifted flour
Pinch salt
1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c boiled milk (and allowed to cool)
Flavoring, such as dash of orange-blossom water, rum, kirsch or other desired liqueur

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the eggs, mixing each well into the batter before adding another. Add in the milk in small quantities while beating. Let the batter rest at least 2 hours. Finish by adding a flavoring just before using.

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Basic Crêpes (Savory)
This is adapted from Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cook Book, and can be used in a variety of savory applications. His recipe calls for straining the batter, and doesn't call for letting the batter rest before using it.

1 egg
1/2 c flour
Pinch salt
1/2 c plus 2 T milk
2 T butter, separated

Put egg, flour and salt in bowl and beat with whisk, adding in the milk. Melt 1 T of the butter in a non-stick pan (or your desired crêpe pan) and pour the melted butter into the mixed crêpe batter. Mix well. Pour the finished batter into a sieve over a mixing bowl, and press on any solids with a rubber spatula. Melt the remaking butter separately and use to brush the surface of the pan as necessary when cooking them.

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Crêpes
This recipe uses bread and cake flour, and is an industry recipe. This will make a little over 4 lbs. of batter: enough for about 50 crêpes. This is adapted from Professional Baking.

8 oz bread flour
8 oz cake flour
2 oz sugar
.5 oz salt
12 oz eggs
2 lbs milk
5 oz clarified butter

Sift flours, sugar and salt into bowl. Add eggs and just enough of the milk to make a soft paste with the flour; mix well until smooth and lump free. Gradually stream in the rest of the milk and the clarified butter. If there's lumps, strain it. It it's too thick add a little water. Let rest 2 hours before using.

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Daniel Pinaudier's Crêpes
This recipe comes from The Roux Brothers on Patisserie, and uses cream in the batter. The suggested flavorings include vanilla, orange blossom water, lemon zest or Grand Marnier, or they can just be mixed up and cooked plain.

2 1/4 c flour
2 T sugar
Pinch salt
4 eggs
2 1/4 c milk, boiled and cooled
7/8 c heavy cream

Desired Flavoring

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, and add the eggs, 2 at a time, mixing well. Stir in 1/3 of the milk until you have a smooth, homogenous batter, then add in the cream and the rest of the milk. Leave to rest in a cool place at least 1 hour before using the batter. When ready to use, stir in the chosen flavoring, and use clarified butter for the oiling of the pan.

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Here are two recipes from old clippings of a newspaper, the food section "FoodDay" of The Oregonian. Both recipes come from Madeleine Kamman, dates unknown.

Basic Dessert Crêpe Batter

3/4 c flour, sifted 2 egg yolks
1/4 t salt 1 c milk, less 2 T
1 T powdered sugar 4 T melted butter
2 eggs 2 T liqueur of choice

Put the dry ingredients in bowl. Make a well in center, and add eggs and yolks and mix until the mixture is shiny; do not whip the batter too much. Add the milk gradually, then the butter and liqueur. The result should be a texture lighter than heavy cream, and should be strained to remove any lumps. Let the batter stand for about 15 minutes before using. Stir batter before making each crêpe. Leftover batter can be stored in refrigerator for a day.

Basic Savory Crêpe Batter

3/4 c flour, sifted 1 c milk
1/2 t salt 4 T melted butter
3 eggs  

Put the dry ingredients in bowl. Make a well in center, and add eggs and mix until the mixture is shiny; do not whip the batter too much. Add the milk gradually, then the butter. The result should be a texture lighter than heavy cream, and should be strained to remove any lumps. Let the batter stand for about 15 minutes before using. Stir batter before making each crêpe. Leftover batter can be stored in refrigerator for a day.

 


References used:

Bocuse, Paul. Paul Bocuse's French Cooking. New York: Pantheon, 1977.

Claiborne, Craig. The New York Times Cook Book. Revised Ed. New York: Harper, 1990.

Gisslen, Wayne. Professional Baking. New York: John Wiley, 1985.

Roux, Michel and Albert. The Roux Brothers on Patisserie: Pastries and Desserts from 3-Star Master Chefs. New York: Prentice, 1986.

"Crêpes." Alberta Egg Producers. Recipe and instructions for crêpes. Site accessed 31 May, 2006.
     <http://www.eggs.ab.ca/recipes/basics/crepes.html>

"Crêpes from Everyday Cooking." JacquesPepin.net. Info and recipe for crêpes. Site accessed 31 May, 2006.
     <http://www.jacquespepin.net/members/recipes/crepes.html>

Recipe Source. Online search results for crepes. Site accessed 31 May, 2006.
     <http://www.recipesource.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?search_string=crepe&any=off>

Recipes from Madeleine Kamman clipped and adapted from The Oregonian "FoodDay," no date, recipe noted from The Making of a Cook by Madeleine Kamman.

Copyright © 2004-2010 Renee Shelton.
All Rights Reserved.


 

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