Crepes – the French pancake

I like pancakes, more specifically, baking pancakes. I don’t know why, but somehow, baking pancakes is just lots of fun. Recipes are always easy to put together, we tend to have all ingredients in the house and there are so many possible variations. I like eating mine with fruit for breakfast, or with spinach + salmon + creme fraiche for dinner, or even better, with ice cream! My husband on the other hand prefers pancakes with cheese and bacon, no matter whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, or whatever time of day!

This time I (correction, my husband) felt like making (or in the case of husband, eating) crepes. Crepes are very thin French style pancakes. They taste so different than American (thick and fluffy) or Dutch pancakes (not so thick, and large), so I decided to share them with you today!

The recipe I used is from De Banketbakker.

Crepes - the French pancake
Author: 
 
This recipe makes about 5 large, but very thin, crepes.
Ingredients
  • 75g flour
  • 1 egg
  • 200ml milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 25g melted butter
  • some vanilla
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients (I prefer to start with the dry ingredients and the egg, butter and half of the milk, this allows me to get rid of clumps, after that I add the rest of the milk).
  2. Leave to stand for up to one hour
  3. Heat a frying pan and distribute the batter on the pan, using the complete surface and keeping it very thin. Crepes have to be thin, there is no raising agent to lighten up the pancake, so making it thick will likely make it very heavy.

To be honest, the recipe is not that hard as long as you keep it natural. Take a spoonful of mixture and spread it around in a thin layer on your pan. It’s important the layer is thin, very thin, that’s what a crepe should be like.

Crepes
Yes, that’s a Christmas tree in the background, who says you have to put your Christmas tree away straight after Christmas?

I like my pancakes with something in them. However, these pancakes are so thin that it’s virtually impossible to bake it with ingredients in it. I tried thin slices of apple, but my crepes kept on falling apart if I did that. So I decided to just make the crepes plain. Once it was just about cooked through I either added some slices of cheese or baked apple, folded it over and voila, a crepe with a filling.

Less sweet

Theses crepes are pretty sweet, if you prefer them less sweet, take away at least half the sugar, or even all of it. The taste will be a little more eggy, but still jummy.

Science of crepes

Is there science behind crepes? Of course there’s science when pancakes are involved! When making crepes (or any other type of pancake actually), the following takes place:

  1. Ingredients are mixed – the starch in flour will absorb moisture, as will some of the protein
    1. Note, quite a lot of batter recipes will call for resting the batter, this is often because of the moisture absorption which can take a while
  2. The batter is poured into the pan and fried:
    1. Moisture will evaporate, thickening the batter.
    2. Egg proteins are sensitive to heat, they will coagulate and thicken, this will give the pancake a firmer structure. Since crepes contain so little flour the eggs are essential to prevent the crepe from falling apart.
    3. When heated starch granules will absorb more water and swell (whether or not this happens and to what extent will depend on the recipe, sugar for instance can influence the process.
    4. The crepe will turn brown, this is because of the Maillard reaction in which proteins and sugars react to brown colours. Have you ever noticed that when you don’t use any butter or oil or oil instead of butter there is a lot less browning? This is because less proteins are available for the browning reaction.

So, there is science behind pancakes, it’s not rocket science, but it’s science. When your pancakes or crepes fail it is probably due to one of the processes which hasn’t taken place properly.

 

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