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Crepes for Pancake Day

This recipe is from Tante Marie, a famous French cook who, according to some “set new standards for French cuisine”. With a name like “Aunt Marie”, however, I find it rather difficult to believe that there actually was such a person. I could be wrong here, but it probably isn’t unlikely that the name was a creation of someone trying to sell a cookbook. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because the recipes that originated with Tante Marie’s French Kitchen(now out of print, I think) are some french classics.
Take this crepe recipe, for example. It is lighter than most, using a combination of water and milk in the batter. It comes together amazingly fast, is versatile and delicate in taste and texture. The crepes are also very easy to work with, which makes them ideal for rolling or folding around different fillings, both savory and sweet. This recipe was also chosen as the best pancake recipe by a group of chefs who include Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater and Heston Blumenthal (of the Fat Duck) . I’m still partial to the fluffy american style of pancakes, but these are excellent.
Let me stress that you do not need a crepe pan to make crepes. All you need is a good skillet, lightly greased. I think that a lot of people have never made crepes at home because they thing they need special equipment to do it, but this is definately not the case. Once the batter is in the pan, use the handle to lift it up and swirl the batter around to create a crepe of uniform thickness.
My absolute favorite way to eat crepes is with jam, for either breakfast or dessert. The ones in the photo above have raspberry and cloudberry jam in them, and are topped with a bit of confectioners sugar. Other sweet fillings that are good are butter, sugar and lemon juice or Nutella and banana slices. For savory fillings, I recommend leaving out the brandy or vanilla extract, which is a good substitution if you do not want to buy a whole bottle of brandy to use one teaspoon. Try filling the crepes with peppers, cheese and shredded chicken or a sauté of peppers, onions and mushrooms, with or without feta cheese, for a great main course.

Basic Crepes

(recipe from Tante Marie)
200 ml. milk (2/3 cup)
100 ml. water (1/3 cup)
100 g. all-purpose flour (3/4 cup plus 2 tsp)
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp brandy (optional)

Place flour in a large bowl, add milk and water gradually, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Beat in eggs, salt, vegetable oil and brandy (or vanilla extract), if using. Make sure batter is very smooth, then set aside to rest for at least 20-30 minutes.
Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease and pour a measure of batter onto the skillet (I used a scant soup ladel full, about 1/4 cup). Pick up the skillet and swirl the batter around until it even coats the entire bottom of the pan.
Cook until the edges come away from the pan and the top of the crepe looks almost dry, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for about a minute.
Fill with jam (or other desired filling) and serve immediately.
Makes about ten 10-inch crepes (can be doubled or tripled)

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  • Cindy
    February 28, 2006

    Nice looking crepes although french crêpes are more golden. Anyway, they look nice and I’d eat one if I could 🙂

  • Adelle
    February 28, 2006

    This looked so good that I went ahead and made them for myself for lunch!

  • Gillian Young
    February 28, 2006

    I’ve just recently found your site, and I’ve got to say that every recipe and photo that you post sends me into awe. Everything looks amazing and suited to my taste buds. You’ve had me drooling onto my keyboard more than once. I love to cook, but can’t bake to save my life, so this site keeps me dreaming. Merci from Paris.

  • Anonymous
    February 28, 2006

    I always enjoy your blog…thought I’d let you know Tante Marie is real. She has a cooking school here in SF: http://www.tantemarie.com/about.html

  • Niki
    February 28, 2006

    Hi Nic. I made your wholemeal pancakes for my shrove Tuesday and they were fantastic.
    I agree with Cindy that the French style crepes I’ve seen look a bit different; a bit thinner or lighter or something. I’m actually not a huge fan. My preference is the English pancake texture, in between crepes and American pancakes. Still floppy enough to wrap up in a tube, but not so thin as to flop in half. Mmmmm….Pancake Day….

  • Nic
    February 28, 2006

    I believe that the reason that these crepes don’t look very brown is that there is no butter in the recipe. They are actually quite thin, but there isn’t much to brown. If I had used butter to grease my pan, I probably would have gotten a browner result, as well.

  • Cathy
    February 28, 2006

    Wish I’d known today was pancake day! Wouldn’t you know I didn’t read yours and Niki’s blogs until after dinner. Your crepes look wonderful Nic!

  • CameraDawktor
    March 1, 2006

    These look so yummy. My mom used to make crapes and I would help her, but I never have. I think my kids would love them! Good idea…

  • Catherine
    March 1, 2006

    Yum! I remember my mum always made these on pancake day. I’ll have try these

  • leo
    March 1, 2006

    nice recipes.. =) I don’t usually have the effort of posting recipes on my blog, only the finished product.

    leaves everyone to drool =)

    Cheerios! Leo

  • delia
    September 26, 2006

    Hi Nic,
    made the crepes last nite and well, to say that i’ve never tasted such soft & light crepes b4. thanks for such a wonderful recipe. also tried out ur orange pudding cake.

  • DJ
    November 26, 2011

    I made crepes for the first time in my life using this recipe of yours.. and they were drool worthy. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

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