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Choose a batter that matches your fillings well. There’s a great classic recipe in the Joy of Cooking, or you can find one online. The basic ingredients are flour, baking powder, salt, sugar for sweet crepes, egg, milk, and vanilla or lemon juice. If you’re making savory crepes, consider using galette batter – galettes are a dark brown buckwheat crepe and have a distinctive flavor that goes wonderfully with meats and cheeses. If you’re doing sweet crepes, consider adding a flavor, like dark chocolate. The key is to combine wet into dry with a few swift strokes (don’t worry if it’s lumpy) and let rest at least an hour before cooking.
Get the Kitchen Ready for Easy Cooking
First, select a pan. You don’t need a special crepe pan for this technique – a ten-inch cast-iron skillet works great. Make sure you have a spatula that works well with your pan, especially if you’re planning to fill it entirely with batter. Skillets with no edges work especially well for this. Put the pan over medium heat, medium-low if it’s cast iron griddle. Use a paper towel to wipe lightly with oil.
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Fold a paper towel or dish towel and put it next to where you’re going to rest your bowl of batter. Get out a measuring cup (a quarter-cup or third-cup works well) and put it on your towel. Put another towel down for resting the spatula when you’re not using it. Have a plate ready within reach, and a stack of aluminum foil squares unless you’re planning to eat as you go.
Foolproof Cooking Technique
Once the pan is hot, give the batter a few quick stirs. It should be quite thin – if it isn’t, just add some milk. To make sure the pan is the right heat, throw a few drops of water on it. They should jump, but not evaporate immediately. If they do, the pan’s too hot. If they don’t jump, the pan isn’t hot enough.
Dip your measuring cup into the batter, and have a potholder ready in the other hand. Lift the pan and pour the cupful of batter from the center outward in a spiral shape. At the same time, gently swirl the pan – this will convince the batter to stay thin, moving outwards. If you fill the entire pan, you will get a circle shape, but if the shape is a bit funny, don’t worry. It will taste just as good.
Put the cup back on the towel and wait until the crepe looks dry. When all the glossiness is gone, use your spatula to loosen the edges and flip. If the crepe is large, use your other hand to help it flip over. The cooked side should be a golden color. If you want something melted on your crepe – cheese or chocolate, for example – add it now. The other side should cook about thirty seconds to a minute, and if your filling hasn’t melted, you can fold the crepe in half to encourage it. Then transfer to a piece of foil on your waiting plate, fold in halves or quarters, and enjoy right away or fold up the foil to keep it hot.
As you keep going, remember to add a little oil whenever the pan gets dry, and if the crepes start cooking too quickly, lower the heat. This is especially a danger with cast-iron, but easy to prevent if you’re paying attention. With fillings, less is more – think thin, flat things like cheese, deli meats, Nutella, or thin sliced fruit. A common French sweet treat is to sprinkle one side of the crepe with sugar, then splash with Grand Marnier or lemon juice before folding up. This has to be tasted to be believed!
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