Though a close relative of the British pancake, the French crêpe has evolved into a thinner, more elegant, more luxurious offering altogether with its fine frilly edges. Below are the essentials to succeeding in making these perfect French Crêpes, as well as tips for making a vegan version so that no one has to miss out.
Organic eggs from free-range hens have deep golden yolks, so a crêpe made with them will naturally have a better colour.
The flour should be plain, the milk can be semi-skimmed or full fat. A tiny pinch of salt, for sweet or savoury crêpes is essential, as is a splash of frothy beer.
The consistency of the batter is crucial. It should be light and smooth with the look of single cream, and a gentle frothiness from the beer. You don't have to let the batter rest before you use it, but if you have the time to set it aside for half an hour this gives the protein in the batter time to relax and the starch time to expand.
Don’t bother with mixers and blenders, just give the batter a good and thorough whisk. Don’t overdo it, though – once it’s smooth, leave it, or you’ll encourage gluten to form, which will make the crêpes tough. The batter should have the consistency of single rather than double cream. The batter can be used straight away but can be left, covered, for an hour or so.
Ideally, use a flat, iron pan with shallow, gently sloping sides to hold the batter and make turning the crêpes far easier. If you are buying a new one, look for one which is heavy to hold and with a solid base that won't warp in the heat.
Although crêpes cook quickly, you want the pan to heat up slowly and retain that heat evenly as you cook.
Get the pan hot slowly, over a low to moderate heat. The best way to test whether it is ready is to splash some drops of water into the pan. If it splutters and evaporates, start cooking.
Crêpes are always at their best when eaten fresh out of the pan but, if you want to make a batch in advance either: Set a plate over a pan of simmering water, pile the crêpes up and cover them with another plate or place them in on a foil-lined baking sheet, covered with foil, in a low oven. Crêpes will keep for two days in the fridge or two months in the freezer.
Toppings are up to you – from savoury Traditionelle with sweet fig conserve, goat’s cheese, ham and pickle salad to luscious Crêpes Suzette with its rich orange liqueur sauce, or simply a generous filling of fruity conserve and a dusting of icing sugar, it’s all a matter of taste.
Never wash your crêpe pan. Simply wipe it with kitchen paper to remove any butter and the surface will soon become well seasoned and virtually non-stick with use.
No one should have to miss out on Pancake Day this year. Below are the ingredients you will need for Vegan Crêpes - full recipe here.
To make 12 Vegan Crêpes you will need:
- 150g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 250ml oat milk
- 1 tbsp melted sunflower oil or coconut oil, plus extra for the pan
- Splash of vegan beer, about 2 tbsp
For a whole range of delicious pancake recipes - folded, flipped, rolled, as a showstopper 'cake' or even a classic Crêpe Suzette see our recipe collection.
We hope this helps you create the perfect crêpe for Pancake Day this year.