I'm a pretty decent cook, but I've never made a crepe in my life, and would like to try my hand at it. So...I'd like advice re what is the best crepe pan for the beginner, and also what is a good basic crepe recipe? And if there are any hints for turning (flipping) crepes in the pan (or do you really need to do so), stacking them, keeping them warm, etc. Any advice will be appreciated.
I hadn't either until a couple of months ago. I bought a 7 1/2 inch De Buyer Blue Steel Crepe pan and followed directions on seasoning (very easy). It works great and is very non-stick. I like this pan so much I have asked for a 9" one for Christmas.
I use Alton Brown's crepe recipe (google it) and that works fine. I think it is the same as Julia Child. You can also google Julia Child crepe demo and there is a video out there.
I let the batter sit overnight in the fridge before actually cooking the crepes (definitely let the batter "rest" for at least an hour before making the crepes).
One of Alton's recipes makes about 10 crepes (depending on size of your pan).
I put each one on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to cool for little (while I am cooking the next one or two), then I stack them and put a sheet of wax paper between each, put them all in a freezer bag and pull out however many I need when I am ready to actually use the crepes (thaw and warm them up in microwave or skillet).
All works slick and easy.
I use Alton Brown's recipe too and cook them in a basic 8" nonstick skillet. Although not necessary because of the nonstick, I brush on a little bit of melted butter to coat the pan. The batter is runny and will form a nice circle just by tilting the pan without having to use a special crepe turner. They are very easy to flip using a long silicone spatula, which you should do to get them just a little golden on both sides.
Two eggs, a cup of milk, a cup of flour. Let sit an hour before cooking, then stir and thin slightly with milk if needed for the consistency -- about like heavy cream -- that works best in cooking, which you'll quickly learn by doing.
That is essentially the classic French core recipe for crêpes. WHY every single new cookbook author needs to have "their" particular "recipe" for this (among the most basic and ancient of cooked foods) is seldom explained. In earlier times, parents simply taught their kids to do this.
There are one or two practicalities to the mixing. A blender does it easily and mindlessly, but then needs cleaning. I usually go by hand, with fork or whisk, first beating the eggs lightly, then adding some flour to form a sludge -- it mixes easily with eggs due to the yolk fat -- finally adding milk and more flour alternately. Easy with a little experience.
You can add all sorts of junk and seasonings, salt if you like, sugar for dessert crêpes; but the core idea is the thing to learn.
Learn it, don't google it.
re: c oliver
Haha! I have never had experience with freezing crêpes because there are never many left! It's the truth.
Occasionally, some get refrigerated. My production-line practice when making crêpes is to keep the cooked ones on a plate in a warming oven (around 150-180 F) and as each new one comes hot off the pan, add it to the stack and swipe a little butter or oil over the top so the next won't stick. Yields a versatile stack for serving or further cooking, and what's left can be refrigerated w/o further separation. Cover in ziploc or etc to avoid drying out. They come apart with only maybe the occasional minor sticking.
Crêpes are such a versatile basic that if I were ever teaching cooking, I might start with them. The unleavened pancake also is among fundamental prehistoric foods worldwide. Whether called blini, tortilla, bao pin, etc.
I checked Molokhovets (Russia's traditional national cookbook, Russian counterpart to Mrs Beeton or Ada Boni) in Toomre's 1992 edition/translation. _Bliny obyknovennye,_ "ordinary" pancakes, are unleavened, essentially French crêpes, also called _blinchiki_ in Russian (incidentally a word imported to North America, often in a filled version, as "blintzes"). There are also _bliny gollandskie_ ("Dutch pancakes") made with beaten eggwhite, _bliny s pechenkoju_ (savory crêpes stacked with a liver and vegetable filling), and the ceremonial _Russkiye bliny_ (Russian pancakes), associated particularly with pre-Lenten Carnival, served then with caviar ("rather expensive in some places") and sour cream; those are leavened with yeast or soda, made with wheat or buckwheat flour or both, and look, minus the religious connection, like the basis of the "blini" in most US cookbooks I've seen.
But the word itself in Russian is more generic, and figures even in the famous Russian saying (one of the first things I saw quoted on any internet food discussion, literally decades ago) to the effect that the first pancake always [comes out as] a blob. A very apropos version of "if at first you don't succeed..."
I think I've mentioned this before, but I like to use 2 pans when making crepes. The crepe is formed in the usual way by swirling the batter in the first hot pan. Pour out any excess. When ready to turn, just invert the pan with the crepe over the second hot empty pan, and it will drop into position. While the crepe is cooking on the second side, you have time to form another crepe in the first pan. The usual caveats about it taking a crepe or 2 to be sure your pans are hot enough and well enough lubricated apply here too.
Yes they can be frozen.
I use a 10" Cuisinart non-stick crepe pan with a recipe from Joy of Cooking. I use a ladle and pour the batter onto the hot pan and spread it around. I flip with a thin wooden crepe spatula. Crepes are really not that difficult. Most recipes are a bit thick, though, IMHO, so I always add some extra liquid.
A steel crêpe pan is essential, in my opinion, but it doesn't have to be deBuyer. Mine is a generic French pan which works as well as any other. An important consideration is to get the size you prefer. Diameters are specified at the top, but that's not the size of the crêpe. The rim is about two cm, so you need to subtract four cm to get the crêpe diameter.
Tossing the crêpe in the air is not essential, bit it's the fun part. The crêpe should come loose from the pan when the first side is done. You test this by shaking the pan with a sideways motion. When it's loose, toss it in the air and catch it to cook the other side. The tossing motion sends the crêpe over the side of the pan away from the handle and up. The rim imparts the turning motion to the crêpe.
My great-grandmother always added a drop or two of orange extract to her crepe batter so I do too when I'm making them for breakfast. I omit the extract if I'm making creeps to use for manicotti.
I have only made them once but they turned out so well I thought I would share. I used the Joy of Cooking recipe which was very easy. I would like to be the voice of dissent about the crepe pan. I just used a small maybe 8 in non stick skillet. I was able to turn th using the method in the recipe. I would definitely try your hand at crepes using what you have in hand before purchasing fancy equipment. The ingredients are cheap so you can can practice all you want.
I also have found the type of pan not very important, though with nonstick pans I need very little butter at all, after the first one or two pancakes (which sort of season the surface). A quick wipe of the pan surface occasionally after that, with a paper towel that has soaked up excess butter from a first application.
Different size pans make different size crêpes, obviously. I have a stack of 20cm ("8-inch") standard "omelette" pans from a restaurant-supply firm; they make small crêpes, a little smaller than I prefer, but a large skillet can make big ones. In uses where they're to be folded, or folded around something substantial (like mushrooms, spinach, and cheese -- a good combo) for further cooking, large crêpes like 12 inches across are very handy.
If you have a restaurant supply outlet near you (we used to say, "look in the Yellow Pages") -- in the US there's a large chain called Superior Products which also sells online or by phone, and many independents -- one of their volume commodity items is heavy aluminum skilllets with riveted handles and nonstick coatings, used literally by the hundred in restaurants. I recall a wall with pans hanging, by size in one direction, by coating toughness in the other. The prices went up somewhat as the coatings became more durable, but started around US $10 for crêpe-size pans. Restaurants use such skillets incessantly, wear out the nonstick surface, and replace them.
I feel that's a more practical way to go than the sort of pricey, celebrity-endorsed, high-tech multilayer alloy pans, coated with diamonds or whatever -- the details change every few years -- that are marketed to consumers as status cookware.