Although Crêpes Suzette were popular in France over 100 years ago (and even 60 years ago when I was a budding wanna be cheffette),
I think in the past 10-15 years crêpes have crept from the Continent (of Europe)—likely aboard luxury cruise liners—across the Atlantic
and are now on trend in American menus!
In France four years ago, we were delighted to find little storefront crêperies everywhere vending both savory and sweet crêpes as fast food options—both as meals or for snacks.
It was with great relish that our team stopped to test both types, carrying them off to a local park to savor for our picnic lunch.
However, I was more than impressed to see that there are now crêperies springing up in Michigan, not only in Lansing (our capital), but even in our tiny little hometown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, right across from the Soo Locks!
How fun is that? Of course, we had to stop in for breakfast the next morning after we visited the Soo Locks!
We sampled everything from their “Farmer” (stuffed with egg, bacon, spinach, tomato, cheddar, and hash browns) to a traditional Nutella and strawberry crêpe . . .
and even their “Birthday Cake” which included cream cheese frosting, waffle bits, and sprinkles.
Now, just for the record, I’ve been making crêpes for years, and they’re not really very hard to make, so I think it’s time to share what I’ve learned over the years!
The hardest part is to make the batter light enough. I’ll give you two recipes. The first is the “legit” way to make them, but I’m usually running behind so usually “cheat” by using pancake mix, which seems to taste and crisp just as well. The traditional method also includes letting the batter rest for a half an hour (or two . . . or even overnight, if you’re really organized and able to run ahead of schedule). If you have time, great! If you don’t have time to let it rest (and how many of us have time even to rest ourselves at such times as we’re likely to go to the fuss of making crêpes?), then you can do what I do and just whip up the batter and spread in on your hot, well buttered pan.
Option One (Traditional)
In a mixing bowl, whisk together:
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons melted butter
Non-Traditional (but quick and easy) Crêpe Batter
In a mixing bowl, whisk together:
1 cup pancake mix
1.5 cups milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
(When I make batter for savory crêpes, which is what I posted above, I often substitute 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings for the melted butter and sometimes add bacon bits)
The second hardest part is learning how to spread the batter thin enough and cook them fast enough and hot enough to make them very light and crispy without burning them. Professionals have large, smooth cooking surfaces with no edges, but most of us mortals can’t afford such a luxury. However, having a batter spreader is very crucial to success and a luxury almost any of us can afford.
“Fearless Leader” (as I affectionately dubbed our church team leader during our trip to France) went to great pains to help me find this simple tool, which was not (at least four years ago) sold commonly in kitchen stores in America but goes for 1E everywhere in France and can be bought very inexpensively from Amazon now as long as you know what search for: “crêpe batter spreader.”
If you have a flat, 9″ cast-iron skillet, that’s ideal, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Start by making sure the entire surface area of the skillet is lavished with butter (that has melted). Over medium heat, pour about 1/4 cup of mix onto the steamy surface, smoothing the batter out as much as possible, and fry the crêpe until it bubbles, which should only take about a minute. If you want your batter a bit thinner (and this one above is pushing the edge of too thick), you can add just a touch of water as needed.
Once the batter bubbles, loosen the edges with a spatula and flip the crêpe over. As you can see, I didn’t do a very professional job of flipping mine, and it didn’t end up centered properly, but in a few seconds you can usually coax it back into a more centered position. Also, make sure your pan is squarely over the heat. The far edge of this one was not equally close to the center of the fire so was underdone.
Making crêpes “hot and now” is really a full-time job, so it’s great if you can pursuade someone into being your sous chef. Thankfully, my son is an excellent cook in his own right and always willing to help, so while I pump out the crêpes, he fills and serves them. If you have to work alone, you can stack them with parchment paper in between and keep them in a warm oven, but I can’t make oodles of these fast enough for a sit-down breakfast so prefer serving them one kid/adult at a time, as they emerge from their sleepy beds. (If it’s just Alan, Joel, and I, we can make enough quickly to sit and eat together.)
Although you need to prepare your fillings first so that all the meats and veggies are fully cooked (just keep the pan covered and warm while you make your crêpes), I’m going to discuss the fillings last, because you fill the crêpe hot off the press if possible. This one has sausage, cheese, red peppers, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes, but the options are legion and depend totally on your taste and what you have on hand.
Just think ahead about what you want to use so that it’s fully cooked or else ready to be added. Any meat, veg, or cheese that you enjoy in an omelet will taste great served in a savory crêpe!
The other super popular types of crêpe are the sweet ones. On cruise ships, you can usually pick your own toppings. The morning I took this photo, I added Nutella (almost a staple in Western Europe), cherries, blueberries, and whipping cream.
I’m a huge van of all things sweet, but if you think you should have some protein, you can always add it as a side (or an under!). 🙂
Or, you can make crêpes as a “part” of a balanced breakfast, along with eggs and bacon (or whatever).
For sweet crêpes, my grandchildren’s favorite is the one above, but whatever you like on toast can work: not only Nutella but peanut butter and all sorts of jams (or fresh fruit, which will stick nicely in the Nutella or peanut butter).
If you haven’t tried making crêpes yet, I hope this inspires you to try . . .
or at least to look around for a local crêpe shop where you can stop by for a bite!
If this is new to you, start easy, but have lots of fun!
(Written by Thomas Ken in 1674)
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”