The French have a knack for placing food at the heart of any good tradition, religious or otherwise and you know what, I don’t mind even if following them all seems to tip my bathroom scale more and more in the wrong direction.
The holiday season only just ended and while I’m still trying to shed the weight from the extra calories and actually putting to use the gym membership, it’s already time to think about another foodie holiday in France. In December was no doubt full of feasts fit for queens and kings. January came and we were all about the galette des Rois (king cake), and now February is upon us and it’s La Chandeleur. So what food are we honoring this time? Crêpes – those delightful extra light French pancakes that are sure to please both kids and adults alike.
Crêpes steeped in tradition (as usual)
But instead of just enjoying Crêpes on what would otherwise be another Catholic holiday (Candlemas), the French take it one step further adding in a bit of a pagan element – fortune-telling – we can argue later about who’s tradition this was first – the pagans or the Catholics). What in the world do fortune-telling and crêpes have to do with each other you ask. The story goes like this: If you are able to flip a crêpe in the pan while holding a coin in your writing hand, your family will be prosperous for the year to come – it is harder than it sounds, but I love the idea and the hysterical moments that it could produce. Just last month we were hiding children under tables and selecting a king for the day for the galette des Rois for the day of Kings. You have to love the quaintness of all these traditions.
Daunted by the challenge and not prepared to lose one single delicious crêpe, I think I’ll leave the flipping to the experts. I did, however, decided to get into the tradition by enjoying a few crêpes with family and friends – albeit a tad earlier than the official day of February 2nd – but who complains about eating more crêpes. In true branding fashion, Nutella and Tefal have both decided to make the whole month of February the Fête de la Crêpe so party on.
It’s a Crêpe Party all over
Crêpes are not just in Brittany. They are everywhere to varying degrees of deliciousness. In major French cities, like Paris, Lyon, Montpellier, or Marseille, you will find a fair share of crêpes stands. Every festival or fair I have been to in France has had his and the long lines were surely a testament to the love of these treats. I mean these stands are sporting bottles of Grand Marnier & Cointreau – they have to be high class, no?
I don’t often buy crêpes outside unless it is the buckwheat variety (which is gluten-free for those who are concerned, and thus harder to make), simply because they are so ridiculously easy to make at home – just need a few hungry mouths to feed so I don’t have to feel and look like a glutton.
Why not get creative?
So I didn’t flip but I can be creative at least. During a past “Jour des Crêpes”, I decided to test my creative talents and amuse my son with a few shaped crêpes. Eric “warned” that it may not work quite as well as with thicker pancake batter, but I had to give it a try all the same. It was a great way to make use of those squeeze bottles that I was criticized for buying – You see I DID find a use for them.
If you want to see someone who has some actual talent in designed pancakes, you have to check out dancakes. But please don’t go laughing at my less than perfect creations – I’ll be better next time, I’m sure. I actually think the snail came out pretty well. Wish my son had been more impressed. I eventually gave up – it was just taking too long and company had arrived. I resorted to a classic crêpes preparation. Our visiting friends were able to help us clear off all those crêpes. We washed it down with some delicious cider – as you should.
Start Making Crêpes at home
Now if you want to join in the fun and make your crêpes at home, here’s a recipe that is simple and foolproof courtesy of our chefs. My secret for extra thin crêpes, when you don’t have a dedicated crêpes pan (and even if you do), is to pour in your batter (a reasonable amount), swirl it around, and pour out the excess. It works! I kid you not. Give the crêpe time to get nice and crispy and you can easily turn it over with your fingers or use a wooden spatula, much better than the rubber ones here.
Enjoy your crêpes anyway you like them – sprinkled with sugar, slathered with Nutella, or with marmalade or both. Go crazy and enjoy but please no rioting in the grocery store aisle over jars of Nutella; you’d be better off making your own. If you want to use these crêpes for a savory meal, with ham and cheese, for example, eliminate the sugar and the orange zest and the alcohol. Presto instant Woman or Man of the year!
Tip: For the batter, you could mix by hand but better yet, combine the ingredients in a blender or use a hand mixer.
Grab our crêpes recipe:
Basic Crêpe Recipe
- Mixing Bowl, Wood Spoon, Wooden Spatula (preferably), Emulsion blender (optional), Whisk, Crêpe pan or Shallow Frying Pan
- 120 Grams All-Purpose Flour (4 oz)
- 2 Eggs
- 125 Milliliters Milk 4 floz
- 125 Milliliters Water 4 floz
- 1/4 Teaspoons Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Butter (melted)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stir to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
- Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
- Leave your crêpes batter to rest for a minimum of 4 hours or ideally 24-hours for the best crêpes.
- Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe.
- Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
- Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.
- Serve hot (or cooled down if you prefer) with your favorite spread, or sugar, or jam.
For more great recipes browse our site and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter where we’ll be sending you 1-2 new recipes each month. Of course, you can always drop into our schools in Paris or on our Culinary holidays and snag yourself some expert cooking tips from our professional chefs. Whether you are interested in half-day, week-long, or private online classes, we’ve got wonderful French cooking classes for you.
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