Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sweet Crêpes

February 2nd was la Chandeleur (Candlemas) and next Tuesday is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). It is traditional in France to eat sweet crêpes on both days. I can't remember my parents making crêpes on both days... but I do remember eating home-made crêpes at home (my dad would flip them in the air!!) 
French people eat a lot of both sweet and savory crêpes (savory crêpes are called galettes and made with buckwheat flour). If you go to Britany, or places where a lot of Bretons moved to (like close to the Gare Montparnasse in Paris), you'll be able to find crêperies: restaurants dedicated to crêpes: any kind of crêpes you can think of, but just crêpes (and maybe a salade to go with them). It is also traditional to drink apple cider (cidre brut ou doux), not wine with crêpes. My grand-mother used to make her own cider in her house in Normandy. It was part of the annual ritual and she could not even think of missing the day when cider had to be made. C'était sacré!
She used to have fields with tart apples (for cider) but would also purchase extra from other farmers to have enough to make her cider. On the day when the moon (yes, la lune!) was supposed to be when it's time to make cider, someone would come to her place and crush the apples. Before that we would have washed the old-like-they-are-going-to-fall-apart barrels where the cider was going to rest. Once ready, we would drink this cider, straight from the barrels that were kept in the Vieille Maison (see picture). It was a competition among my siblings and cousins to fill the pitcher of cider from the barrel despite the fact that we had to go to the Vieille Maison that was full of spider webs. And yes, even though we were maybe only 7 or 8 year-old, we were entitled to drink cider at lunch. Or rather, we were allowed to have a tiny bit of cider with a lot of water!
Some years, my grand-mother would make cidre en bouteille. It took longer to put the cider from the barrels into clean glass bottles closed with a tight oak cork but the cider would keep fermenting and become bubbly. It was SO much tastier than the other cider...  but more dangerous to open! It was safer to go outside to open the bottle than take the risk to have a geyser of cider reaching the ceiling of the dinning room (it happened a lot!). Because everything was artisanal, some bottles were obviously better than others...but we all liked it better than the cidre du tonneau.
Along with cider, my grand-mother was also making her own Calvados... but that's another story for another post, because unless you intend to have crêpes flambées, I would not recommend drinking Calvados with your crêpes. At home, we generally serve our children sparkling apple juice!

I personally love crêpes, especially the savory ones. I could eat some everyday and never get tired of it. It's so easy to change the filling that the options are really unlimited. Same with the sweet ones if you are willing to mix simple ingredients such as cane sugar, honey, lemon juice, almonds, jam, chestnut spread, Nutella, almond butter, pear butter, pumpkin butter, plain salted butter, and even peanut butter (why not?). My children prefer theirs (I give them two) with Nutella. My husbands who could eat half-a-dozen crêpes for dessert (his maternal grand-parents would eat 12 each on the day they would make crêpes!)  prefers his with chestnut spread or lemon juice and sugar. I personally like my sweet crêpes with honey, lemon juice and toasted almond slices.

Making crêpes is very easy and as long as you are OK to leave the batter to rest for a while, you'll be on for a nice pleasing dessert. Every family has their own recipe. This one is not from my family but from my friend O. who, being from Belgium, pours beer in the batter. We have been making crêpes following her recipe not twice but three times in the last 10 days. I had indeed volunteered to make some for my daughter's class but they got snowed in because of the storm... so we were left with another batch of crêpes! Il y a plus grave, non? Bon Appétit!

- 2 cups (220 gr) All Purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- (7 Fl Oz) 400 ml of whole milk
- (3 Fl oz) 180 ml beer (your could use water instead but the beer helps make the dough lighter)
- 2 Tbs melted butter
- 1 ts of Orange Flower water (optional)
- Butter to spread on pan

  • Sift flour and salt in a bowl
  • Make a well and put the four eggs in it. Mix well.
  • Stir in the milk and beer (and orange flower water)
  • Cover and let stand on the kitchen counter (under cloth) for at least 30mn (the longer, the better)
  • When ready to make the crepes, add the melted butter in the batter and stir until smooth (the consistency is faily liquid; don't think "pancakes" please!)
  • Butter a crepes pan over medium heat
  • When the pan is hot, take a ladle of batter and spread it on the pan
  • Cook the crêpe on one side for about 2 minutes, then flip it over and cook for another minute. It has to remained a little bit on the "uncooked" side so that you can easily fold it.
 My Personal Comment:
  • You could use Vanilla extract instead of orange flower water for an easier flavor
  • The first crêpe is always ratée (spoiled) so don't worry if you do not make your  crêpes right the fist time. 
  • You can cook the crêpes in advance and put them on a plate (covered with foil) above a pot with simmering water. If you are making them a day in advance, keep them in foil overnight and reheat them in a pan just before serving.
  • I use a special pan (crêpière) to make the crêpes. It's really flat (and non-stick) with a very low edge. It's not necessary to have one to make good crêpes but it helps when spreading the batter.


  1. Tested your recipe for goûter today. I like the beer (suis pas belge pour rien) it gives a nice twist to the crepes.Our main problem is we have to bake them in a flat wok. Our only le Creuset pan is definitely of the stick kind. Next buy will be a crepe pan, definitely. The kids wolfed the whole stack down and asked for more. They also repeated that there "is beer in these crepes"!!!Sandra

  2. Ooh, now I'm craving crepes! I will have to try the beer in the batter next time, sounds wonderful.

  3. I haven't made crepes in forever but have been craving them, so your post comes at a great time!! The beer sounds like a great idea. I'm going to have to dig my crepe pan out of the basement (wish me luck in that maze). I can almost taste a warm crepe dripping with butter and sugar right now.

  4. "Sacré" here as well! And because my father lives in Caribbean, I use some rum instead of beer! I know, I know...