There’s no doubt that crepes are popular in France. There are whole restaurants dedicated to eating Crepes called “les crèperies”. Street vendors sell crepes outdoors when the weather permits and there’s even a whole day dedicated to eating crepes in the month of February called La Chandeleur which you can read about it here: Holy Crepe Day: The French Groundhog Day.
But you don’t have to fly to France to try a real French crepe because they are extremely easy and quick to make at home. You probably have all the ingredients you need already in your pantry.
CREPE FACTS IN FRANCE
Before I divulge this super easy crepe recipe, here are a few things you might not know about making and eating crepes.
- Crepes are not like pancakes: The batter for crepes is very thin with a syrupy like consistency. There are also no leavening ingredients like baking soda or baking powder which is the main reason French crepes are so thin compared to fluffy pancakes.
- Let the batter sit: Crepe recipes often include instructions to let the batter rest for 30 minutes or so which results in an even flatter crepe, unlike pancake batter which is usually used immediately. (if you’re in a hurry it’s ok to use the batter right away).
- The secret ingredient: There are way more eggs in “real” French crepe recipes. The extra eggs are the secret to a great tasting crepe in my opinion. Sorry Vegans, it’s just not the same without them.
- Ingredients: A typical French crepe recipe usually contains 5 basic ingredients: flour, milk, eggs, butter and sometimes salt. If you are making dessert crepes, it’s not uncommon to add sugar or orange zest or vanilla extract and even Rum. It’s really a matter of taste. Just use the base recipe and add what you want.
- Not for breakfast?: In general, crepes are not eaten for breakfast in France. They’re reserved for lunch or dinner and are eaten as a main course or as a desert.
- No maple syrup. French people DO NOT PUT SYRUP on their crepes. I repeat, they NEVER put syrup on their crepes. NEVER is a strong word but I have yet to meet a French person who actually uses maple syrup. I’m sure they exist however they are mostly outliers since the general population doesn’t consume syrup at all.
- The pan: I recommend using a non-stick crepe pan or if you have the budget, go for an enamelled cast iron crepe pan. Enamel pans combine the heat distribution benefits of an iron pan with non-stick properties. Don’t bother trying to make crepes without one of these because you will fail miserably. I’ve been there.
- Diner or dessert: You can start by cooking some savoury crepes (without sugar) and fill them with cheese, eggs or whatever. Then serve a few desert crepes (batter made with sugar) and let people put their own toppings like, Nutella, confiture, or au Sucre et citron which is just a dusting of sugar followed by squeezing a few drops from a fresh lemon over the crepe. Remember adding sugar to your crepe batter is optional. Some people prefer not to add sugar because the dessert topping will be sweet enough. I actually prefer desert crepes with sugar added.
*Like all recipes, there are always variations. Take this recipe and adjust it to your liking. Just make sure the batter is runny otherwise the crepes will come out too thick.
A Deliciously Simple & Classic Crepe Recipe
This recipe makes approximately 8 large or 12 small crêpes
Keep in mind that crepes cook extremely fast. Don’t cook them for more than a minute on each side or until lightly golden. Also, pay attention to the order of operations. Don’t throw everything in at once.
250 grams of white flour (2 cups flour)
4 eggs (You can use 3 to 5 eggs)
500 ML Milk which is (1/2 litre) or about ( 2 1/2 cups)
30 grams melted butter (1/4 stick which is about 1 oz. or 2 TBSP)
Pinch of salt (this brings out the flavours but you can omit if you like)
OPTIONAL: If making dessert crepes
20 grams sugar ( 2 tablespoons of sugar)
zest of an orange or lemon
- Mix the flour, pinch of salt in a bowl. (If making dessert crepes you can add sugar)
- Make a hole in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Start whisking immediately while adding milk a little bit at a time. If you let it sit, you will get lumps.
- Stir in the melted butter. Some recipes add oil, but I prefer butter. The batter should be runny. The biggest mistake people make is making the batter too thick.
- Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. (some people like to put the batter in the fridge but I let it sit at room temperature.
- Heat a crêpe pan or deep, non-stick pan, greased with a little butter.
- Pour in a ladle of the batter while holding the pan and tilting left and right so that the batter spreads out thinly on the pan. You want the crepe to be as thin as possible. I sometimes use a crepe rake to spread my crepe which results in a perfectly thin crepe and then I use a crepe knife to flip the crepes but these tools arn’t necessary. I just find it easier to use them. (See 2nd video below for a demonstration on how to use a crepe spreader and crepe knife.)
- Cook over medium heat until the crêpe comes away from the rim, about one minute or until the crêpe is golden brown.
- Stack the crepes on a plate or cover with aluminium to keep warm or whatever method you want to use.
- Serve with Nutella, sugar and lemon, strawberry confiture or whatever else you want then fold into a delicious treat.
Here are two videos demonstrating how to make crepes.
I included this first video so you could see the method I use to mix the ingredients together by making a hole in the centre of the flour for the eggs plus how to hold and tile the pan to make thin crepes.