Crepes stuffed with cheese and strawberry jam are the traditional Sunday breakfast at my house. I started making crepes after my daughter tried them for the first time while we were on vacation in Maine. She was only three at the time, so when she told me Daddy should learn to make these, of course I had to.
I used to use a non-stick crepe pan. Those are almost fool-proof. Just pour in a little batter, swirl it around the pan and flip.
The one draw back is you can only make crepes as large as your pan. Mine was 6 inches, which was fine for breakfast sized crepes but not for big dinner crepes stuffed with savory meat and veggies. To make those big boys, you need a flat top griddle and a crepe spreader like they use in creperies. You also need a little practice spreading the batter thin and flipping them.
For the flat top I use a Baking Steel griddle.
This easily handles crepes up to 12 inches. It’s also an excellent multi-tasker. Its griddle side is great for pancakes, English muffins, potatoes, steaks, pretty much anything. Flip it over and you got a baking surface better than any stone. I make baguettes, boules and ciabattas every week and always get fantastic results.
A Note on the Gear
There are two kinds of crepe spreaders, the good kind and the bad kind. Don’t get the bad kind.
The good kind is simply two round dowel rods joined into a T. You put about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle and put the thicker rod in the middle of the batter. Then you use the thinner handle to spread the batter into a thin round crepe. The spreader floats on the batter so you don’t have to worry about controlling the thickness of the crepe. Just work fast and keep twirling.
The bad kind has a flat blade with sharp corners. The corners tend to tear the crepe as it begins to set up.
In addition to the griddle and spreader, you’ll need a thin, offset spatula. A bench knife or dough scraper is also handy for clean up.
The basic crepe batter is similar to a thin pancake batter but without any leavening agents. It’s suitable for savory and dessert crepes. There are dozens of variations, including herbed crepe batters, cornmeal, rye flour and others.
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBS melted butter
1 TBS solid butter for the griddle
Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow bubbles to dissipate and flour to absorb the liquid. Overnight is better but not necessary.
After resting, the batter should be a bit thicker than heavy cream.
Heat the griddle over medium to medium high for 10 to 15 minutes. This is the trickiest part. The griddle should be hot enough the a few drops of water thrown onto it immediately boil but not so hot that they “dance” on the griddle. You’ll have to experiment with your stove top to get the right temperature.
Rub the griddle with butter. The butter should sizzle but not brown or smoke.
Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour batter into the center of the griddle. An 1/8 cup makes roughly a 6 inch crepe. A scant 1/4 cup will yield a 10 to 12 inch crepe.
Next, use your spreader to distribute the batter into a thin circle. It will take several passes to fill any holes and get a nice round shape. Getting the twirl right will take a little practice, but it’s not hard.
The crepe should be ready to flip in roughly 1 minute. Watch the edge. When it gets crisp and starts to curl, slide your spatula under the crepe and make sure it hasn’t stuck anywhere. Then flip the crepe and cook the other side for another 45 seconds to a minute.
For our breakfast crepes, I fill them with mascarpone or just cottage cheese and jam, then roll them up and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Use the last bit of batter to make a little crepe for your dog. He’ll appreciate it.