Crêpe Batter

Appareil à Crêpes

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Good crêpe pans are made of heavy iron. They differ from omelet pans only in that the sides are lower and more oblique; in their absence, small omelet pans will serve.

Like all flour-based batters or doughs, crêpe batter is usually left to relax, losing the elasticity that is developed to an extent relative to the length and violence of its beating; but the nature of crêpes—the simplicity and the rapidity of their preparation, their usefulness as an elegant means of disposing of leftovers or of tossing off a hastily improvised dessert—thrusts them often into the category of last-minute-decision preparations. Care should be taken to whisk the batter gently and no longer than necessary to perfectly combine the ingredients and they may, then, be prepared immediately.

The best crêpes are made with a proportionately high egg and low flour content. Cognac is a useful flavoring agent, and a certain amount of either melted butter or olive oil is necessary—otherwise it seems to me to make little difference what they are moistened with; good crêpes can be made moistened only with water, or only with beer, or heavy cream may be added to enrich the batter. The precise proportioning of ingredients is of little importance, but the consistency of the batter is of the greatest—its body should be approximately that of American fresh heavy cream (that is to say, very thin).

Sugar is usually added to dessert-crêpe batter; after years of dumbly respecting this rule, I realized that I preferred unsweetened crêpes; whatever their ultimate treatment, they will receive a large sufficience of sweetening. Recipes calling for an addition of chopped fruit, crumbled macaroons, or other cookie-like substance to the batter may sound attractive but, in practice, the added bulk necessitates the use of too much batter to make a crêpe and its finesse suffers greatly, thinness being part of its essential character.

For non-sweet preparations, finely chopped fines herbes are often added to the batter. Powdered saffron—as much as one can heap on a knife tip—may be dissolved in a bit of hot water and stirred into the batter. Saffron crêpes seem to me particularly useful as a wrapping for mixtures based on crustaceans or shellfish—shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops, mussels, clams . . . Spread with softened butter, rolled up, and eaten hot from the pan, they are sublime; buttered, folded in four, arranged overlapping in a buttered gratin dish, spread with stiff cream (or a small amount of stiff béchamel generously creamed), the surface sprinkled generously with grated Parmesan and put in a 500° oven for 10 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the surface colored, saffron crêpes cannot help but elicit admiration.