>My kids are not fluent in French. When we visit my mother, they smile and nod blankly whenever anyone addresses them directly with, what is to them, a torrent of French babble. I tried. Bella spoke better French than English until she was three, but then my attempts to infuse my native tongue into her life were drowned out by her brother’s needs, not enough time in France, and the world around us. I still pepper their days with vocabulary words and dare them to roll their Rs, but French is definitely a foreign language to them.
My children may not be fluent in French, but they have French palates. They appreciate a good croissant, love roast chicken with a light shallot sauce, and spread butter like champions.
When they say “crepe” the R is soft and awkward on their tongues, but the texture of the wafer-thin pancake is familiar to their tongue. Crepes are what they clamor for when they burst into my room on Sunday mornings demanding to be fed.
When I was a child, crepes were our grilled cheeses, our easy Sunday night dinners. My mother would whip up the batter and serve us some cheese crepes, ham and cheese crepes, and even ham, cheese, and egg crepes before launching into dessert crepes. My kids morphed that tradition because they wanted nothing to do with cheese crepes. Crepes became a treasured Sunday breakfast, topped with butter and sugar, nutella, jam, and even fresh fruit and sweetened condensed milk. They stand at attention, empty plates outstretched before them, waiting for me to flip their crepe before turning to the buffet of toppings options.
Like many French foods, crepes sound fancy and difficult, but you could have them on the table faster than you can boil pasta. Just throw 4 ingredients in a food processor, pulse a half a dozen times, and get cooking. No need to flip the crepes – I did it for the first time this year purely for entertainment purposes.
The recipe below is for sweet crepes. Traditionally buckwheat flour is used for savory crepes. However, I find buckwheat crepes to be too bitter for even my adult tastes so I use this batter for both sweet and savory.
Crepes (Makes 15-20 small crepes)
1 cup of flour
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups of milk (I always used whole or 2%, but this weekend I used skim and found the crepes to be thin and tasty)
2 tablespoons of melted salted butter
Toppings: Butter, Sugar, Jam, Nutella, Sweetened Condensed Milk and fruit
- In a food processor, pour the flour, milk and eggs. Pulse 3-6 times until just blended.
- Pour into a bowl, add the melted butter and stir together. The dough should be very liquid, much looser than American pancake dough. Add more milk if it feels a little thick. You can always add a little more flour to even things out. Err on the runny side, better to have a thin crepe than a thick one.
- Many cookbooks would tell you to rest the crepe batter for 20 minutes at this point to let the gluten in the flour relax. I sometimes do this, but often the kids are out of their minds with hunger and I just get going.
- Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat until hot. Pour some vegetable oil on a bunched up paper towel and grease the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the crepe dough into the hot pan, swirling the pan around until all the batter has been spread around. Keep on swirling until no batter is moving.
- Place pan back onto the flame. Cook the crepe until the bottom is lightly browned, peeking for doneness with a spatula. Flip the crepe either with a grandiose flick of the wrist (after loosening it with a spatula), or the old fashioned way with a spatula. Cook it for another 30 seconds to a minute and serve.
- For butter and sugar crepes (my kids’ favorite flavor), I melt the butter on top of the crepe as soon as I flip it.
- You can serve these immediately, cooking and eating as you go, or make a big batch that you cover with plastic wrap and reheat in the microwave for 5 seconds a crepe.