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Crepe batter...what's the chill for?

Recently tried crepes for the first time. Turned out great. Recipe said to refrigerate for an hour, "if you have the time." I was starting dinner at 10:15, so most definitely did not have the time. Have now poked around other cookbooks and the Internets a bit, and see many recipes call for refrigerating overnight, or for 7 or 8 hours. No explanation as to why. So, is the point just to chill the batter before it hits the pan, or does some additional intra-batter sciencey thing happen, with, like, molecules and stuff?

Again, I've eaten more crepes than I care to admit over the years, and these seemed spot-on without the chill/rest. Does some crepe ecstasy await if I actually plan something in advance and make the batter the night before? Thanks in advance.

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  1. The refrigeration maintains freshness throughout the resting period (7 - 8 hours) during which the flour in the batter is provided time to hydrate more completely. It's not essential that you ferment the batter for the period listed in most recipes but the flavor of the crepe does improve somewhat after a reasonable waiting period.

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      What todao said, plus you're developing the gluten, hence the improved flavor and texture.

      1. re: mamachef

        Thanks to you both! Maybe it's b/c I don't bake much outside of biscuits, french bread, cornbread, and my mama's buttermilk pancakes, but I'd just never heard of resting a dough without leavening. Now I feel not very houndy. Will give it a try. Thanks again...

        1. re: mamachef

          I think that you are actually letting the gluten strands relax after the vigorous mixing they got when making the batter. To give you a more tender less "springy" texture.

      2. Have to say I've made pancake batter and let it rest and I've made batter and not let it rest. Can't tell the difference.

        1. The chill is just to make longer resting periods safer. The resting period lets an gluten (that developed during mixing) relax, and improves the hydration of the flour (i.e. lets it more fully absorb water). Apparently hydration is more important with buckwheat batters. And since crepes don't have baking powder or soda, resting does not hurt.

          But it is not essential. I haven't noticed a difference based on resting period.

          3 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            Is this the same reason for letting popover batter rest before baking? That takes more time in the AM when I am ready to get baking.

            1. re: mgebs

              Yes, popover batter is similar. I bake a Dutch Baby (same batter in a hot 10" skillet), without the rest period. If you can afford the experiment (a few eggs etc), try popovers without the rest period.

            2. re: paulj

              I find that buckwheat crepes made with unrested batter tend to feel a little coarse almost grainy and the texture a little bit dry, both a symptoms of not being fully hydrated.
              They also seem to be a little milder in flavor. I think that there is a development of flavor during the rest may be even a little fermentation.

            3. keeps them flat and prevents them from getting tough.

              1. It's to allow the gluten to RELAX, not rest.
                I've used crepe batter within hours of making (or less) but much prefer to make it at least a day ahead.
                You can see the difference when frying crepes from a single batch if you cook them over multiple days.
                They get nice and spidery in the pan, with frilly edges. This is also determined by heat and fat.
                I love a good crepe, even with fresh batter, but I've learned crepe batters just get better with age.