Sarjano is passionate to help us make the perfect crêpe
I want to convey why crêpes mean so much to me. When the Americans landed in Italy, I was a child. They did not conquer me with their cokes or chewing gums. Nor with popcorn or chocolates, but with American pancakes!
I went on to love them a lot but they were out of fashion by the time I reached Paris. There, in a little street of Le Quartier Latin, I met le crêpes. They were not very different from pancakes, but they are about three-quarters thinner. They were almost crisp and so delicious that I could eat half a dozen at a stretch and still hope for more.
In fact I went to Paris to learn to paint and ended up making crêpes Suzettes! Of course crêpes can well imitate a pallet of colours where you can create your own painting.
makes 15 crêpes
250 gms refined flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
500 ml milk
50 gms butter
A note on the sugar and salt: this batter is a suitable base for both savoury and sweet crêpes. If you are planning to use it only for a savoury dish, then you can ignore the sugar. If you are going to use it for sweet crêpes, then add an extra spoon of sugar.
Sift the flour with salt into a large bowl.
Add the sugar and start whisking the mixture even before adding the milk.
Then add the milk. First add 125 ml, stir until well amalgamated, then add the rest and stir again. It’s easier to mix while adding a little milk at a time.
Whisk the eggs and add them to the batter, while continuing to stir.
Melt the butter slowly in a non-stick pan over a very low flame, then pour it into the batter. Keep on mixing firmly but gently till well blended – and the batter is ready.
My trick is to prepare the batter well in advance and leave it in the refrigerator for a few hours before using it. The scientific reason for this is that the colder the batter, the crispier the result.
To create thin pancakes, use the same pan in which you melted the butter. It should be a flat pan of a reasonable size, ca. 18 – 22 cm.
I personally have a large ladle, which represents the exact measure of batter I need to create the perfect crêpe. So I fill it and pour it gently into the hot pan. If you start before the pan is hot, your creation will stick to it.
Note that you do not pour your batter into the centre of the pan but you pour it along the edges and then rotate your wrist to move the batter around so that it is thinly and evenly spread in the pan.
You could add some natural essence like vanilla or almond. But then all the crêpes will have the same flavour. So leave the crêpes plain and introduce variety with the fillings or the toppings!
How long should it cook? Till the crêpe slips away by itself!
As I do not know what kind of flame you are using, I cannot say 3 minutes…anyway, for this preparation you need a medium flame. A low flame will mean longer cooking and the crêpe will be dry from inside. If the flame is too hot it will turn everything into poison because of the butter in our batter. There is nothing as poisonous as frying butter on a high flame. Get it?
After a minute or two, move the pan from side to side, gently but firmly, and if your batter has been made correctly, the crêpe will slide. You do not need to move it with a spatula. But you may need it to invert it.
But me? I am an old acrobat so I flip my crêpes in the air with great show. Anyway, if you are not confident about flipping, use a flat spatula to turn the crêpe over, which you cook for another thirty seconds only. The first side takes longer than the second to become golden.
Pile up the crêpes and if the size is large, count one for each guest.
We proceed with filling the crêpes. Place a crêpe in front of you, spoon a large portion of the filling along one side of the crêpe and roll it like a spring roll, but do not tuck in the edges.
There are two other ways to fold a crêpe, half-moon or triangle. For newcomers I suggest the first, especially because the second option requires your crêpes to be really thin. Plus when crêpes are half-moon shaped you can cut it with a spoon to give it a smile.
From the book ‘Food is Home’ by Sarjano