Easy French crêpes for sweet or savoury meals

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Nya

French-pancakes

While February 2nd is known as Groundhog Day in North America, in Europe, we don't have groundhogs (or Bill Murray), but an old pagan-turned-Christian celebration. In France, it is called Chandeleur, aka Pancake Day! Everyone, Christian or not, rejoices in stuffing themselves with crêpes (French-style pancakes).

Now we don't need excuses to eat pancakes all year long (and we certainly want to), so here's my recipe…

Ingredients for 30 crêpes:

  • 250g wheat flour
  • 50 cl milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tb spoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions:

Following the above order, pour the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk slowly before you add each ingredient. You should obtain a runny batter, like thick milk. If it's clumpy, smooth the hell out of it with a hand blender.

Let it sit for up to 24 hours in the fridge if you can. If you can't, just start making crêpes already.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Add some batter with a ladle. Tilt and turn the pan at the same time to allow it to spread thin. You can also add some batter, let stand for 10 seconds, then start spreading the batter around the pan with a wooden spatula.

When the edges are golden, you can flip it. Flip it dramatically in the air with an elegant flip of the wrist like a seasoned pro while saying "oh la la." Or simply adopt the no-fuss, no-mess way: take a wooden spatula and flip it sternly.

flipping crepes

The first crêpe is always messy. ALWAYS. It will burn, or you'll have to scrape it off the pan like mad, or it will tear. It's ok. It will be yummy anyway.

After the first crêpe, things should be smooth: you should be able to cook and flip the crêpes without them attaching to the pan. Cook the whole batter, piling the crêpes in a plate, and leaving it in a low-temperature oven (50°C) until you eat them all. They keep fairly well in the fridge, too.

This recipe is a blank canvas on which you can eat whatever you like. Food snobs will argue this is a sweet recipe, and that savoury crêpes ought to be made with buckwheat flour. I say: Whatever, this recipe is delicious both with sweet and savoury stuff. So here are a couple of suggestions for 1 crêpe:

Savoury:

  • egg, bacon, grated cheese, pepper (my husband's favourite)
  • grilled mushrooms, grated cheese
  • wiener bits, sour cream, grated cheese
  • red pepper and tomato
  • goat's cheese, walnuts and honey
  • potato, grated cheese
  • salmon, sour cream, chives

Sweet:

  • sugar and a dollop of butter
  • sugar and a dash of lemon juice
  • sweet chestnut purée (my favorite)
  • banana and melted chocolate/Nutella
  • maple syrup and apple
  • cinnamon and applesauce
  • grated coconut and chocolate
  • berries and vanilla ice-cream
  • Death by crêpe: vanilla ice-cream, salted caramel, chocolate chips and whipped cream

Everything goes well with crêpes, so try your favorite combination of food. We often serve them as a crêpe bar with a lot of ingredients and everyone just chooses what they want.

If you're with friends, just put whatever you fancy in, roll it like a tortilla and eat with your fingers. If you have to behave, fold it in half and use fork and knife. It's not as much fun, though.

Traditionally, crêpes are served with chilled apple cider. Bon appétit!

  1. So, what sort of pan do you find to be best for crêpes? My only nonstick pan has straight sides and is two inches deep. I'm guessing curved sides makes it easier?

    Also, the goat cheese/walnuts/honey idea sounds divine.

    • You could totally make square crêpes if you want! Or you can simply pour a bit of batter in the pan, and spread it thin with a wooden spatula to have a circular crêpe. Depth doesn't matter.

      Non-stick works best of course (even if the first crêpe will always always be messy, even if you have the Grand Winner of the Best Non-Stick Pan In The World Contest). I have an iron pan which usually sticks a lot, but with enough oil and heat (after the first crêpe), you'll be able to flip the suckers like you're French.

      Walnut/goat cheese/honey is a staple in crêperies (pancake joints), and a favorite of vegetarians 🙂 I love it!

  2. Mmmm, I'm going to have to try some of those topping ideas. I'm the resident pancake maker and mine tend to be more crepe-like. When I was a kid we would make almost-crepes and spread strawberry jam on them (my favorite), then roll it up so the jam is in the middle and then spray some reddi-whip on it so it looked all fancy. The problem was making them fast enough to keep up with how quickly they were devoured. One perk of being the cook – I always start eating first, so I've already eaten two usually by the time my husband takes his stack.

    Oh and more often than not I wreck the first one too. I think I actually had an edible first pancake last time, I can't remember the last time that happened.

    • You nailed the major problem with crêpe-making: if you're cooking them on the spot as people devour them, somebody's got to be standing the whole time to make them. I guess that's why they invented party crêpe makers.
      That's also why, after to many a crêpe party where I would be alone in the kitchen, I decided that making them in advance and keeping them in the oven was the way to go.

  3. I feel compelled to post Julia Child.

    I love these with fresh fruit, brûléed with a bit of sugar. Since I currently don't have a torch or the courage of my convictions (as Julia might say) to flip, I usually just buy my crêpes pre-made and cover them with pie filling.

      • Fresh (ish)… not refrigerated or frozen, at least. 🙂 At my grocery store, they come wrapped a bit like a pack of tortillas, and they're usually displayed near the fresh fruit. (For those in certain lucky parts of the US, I'm talkin' about Kroger and occasionally Meijer.)

        This is them on Amazon, though they're generally much less expensive per pack in store.

      • We can get the pre-made crêpes in QC, I imagine that they're probably findable in NB as well. Do you have Provigo there? You might need to ask someone who works at your local grocery tho, as I've mostly seen them stuck in slightly random places and not in a specific reserved section.

  4. I love crepes! And I agree that the first one is always a mess…it's the one I eat with my fingers while I cook the others. When I first graduated from college, I didn't really know how to cook, so I ate ham and cheese crepes for dinner a couple of times a week. I never got tired of them!

    [totally non-related: Nya – I'm dying to know about your name. I just had a baby and named her Nya. Is it a common name in French? Do you pronounce it to rhyme with Maya or Leah? Do you know the history of your name? Thanks!]

    • Your daughter has such a great name! Congrats!

      It's going to be disappointing – Nya is my blogger name only, I have a very Frenchy French name IRL. That's Japanese for "mew", which I find insanely cute. Remember the Nyan cat? I used Nya before he went viral on his rainbow.
      Anyway, I have used it for so long that some friends call me Nya now, and we prononce it "n-ya", in one syllable.

  5. Since my father's side of the family is French, I always look forward to Grounhogs day for crepes (any day with crepes is a good day :). We follow the tradition that if you hold a coin in one hand and if you flip your crepe over perfectly on Le Chandeleur you will have good luck and good fortune the rest of the year. Since the family lives all over the country we email each other pictures of us trying to do the perfect flip. Unlike some holidays that are stressful and filled with obligations, this one is one of my favorites because it is about having silly fun and knowing where ever we are we are all eating crepes made with my Grandmother's recipes.

    I like my crepes the best simply with a little sugar, but there are so many ways you can serve them. You can even stack them with fillings and make a kind of cake. My parents would often sprinkle theirs with a little cointreau and I felt like it was a right of passage when I finally got to try it that way.

    • Haha the coin-flipping tradition sounds familiar, though I never do it. I should, it seems like fun!
      My family would make Grand Marnier crêpes, and flambéed them. It fet very dramatic. The day I finally got to try crêpes this way was very anti-climatic, what with the bitter taste of this alcohol. That's when I got back to sweet chesnut purée 🙂

  6. I completely gorged on pancakes (the French-style ones, obviously) this Pancake day! And EVERY pancake day, actually. Since I was little and my family would have pancakes for dinner and dessert on Shrove Tuesday, I wouldn't miss it for the world. Even when I was living in Uganda I would throw pancake parties and invite all my friends around for pancake feasts. We would have it buffet style too, and have pancake flipping competitions!

    My favourite savoury pancake is smoked salmon and cream cheese.. Heaven. Then followed by good old Nutella and banana. And a few sugar and lemon for good measure.

    The tradition comes from Shrove Tuesday being the day before lent starts, when traditionally people would stop eating eggs, milk, sugar and other fatty foods as a type of lent fasting. The idea was to empty all the 'bad' foods out of the cupboards. I used to always give up chocolate for lent, so many chocolate pancakes for me on pancake day!

    • Your crepes sounds like the Sunday breakfast I make for my boyfriend and I most of the time: bagel and lox.

  7. Loved reading this. In Flanders (Belgium) we also have the tradition on (Maria) lichtmis (=Mary Light Mass), but my Dutch friends had never heard of it. Probably because the Netherlands are mainly protestant. Catholicism is dying out here, but our atheist family does keep the pancakes for Feb 2nd going! The tradition is slowly dying out though. (But how could it? A perfectly fine reason to have pancakes for dinner?!)

    We also have the saying: "Met lichtmis is er geen vrouwtje zo arm, of ze maakt haar pannetje warm." -> "At Light Mass, there ain't a wife too poor to heat up her pan." It's supposed to have a double-entendre in Olddutch, supposedly "pannetje"/"pan" means something sexual too. 😛

  8. Ham and cheese crêpes might be the best food ever made… I had no idea how to make them and now maybe I do, just have to sort out the measurements because silly imperial system… Thank you!

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.