Crêpe (English pronunciation: /'krep/; Breton: krampouezhenn) is a type of very thin pancake, usually made from wheat flour. The word is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning "curled.
" While crêpes became a specialty from Brittany, a region in the northwest of France, their consumption is nowadays widespread in France and they are considered a national dish. In Brittany, crêpes are traditionally served with cider. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, from the most simple with only sugar to flambéed crêpes Suzette or elaborate savoury fillings.
Origin of Crêpes:
While the origin of crêpes remains a mystery, the story goes that Galettes appeared around 7 000 B.C. They were made from water and various flours. Nowadays, the concept is found in every world civilization.
In Roman Times:
During the Lupercales, the Romans were already baking pancakes of flour and water, sweetened with honey. Their golden color served as a symbol of the warm sun. The return of the sun was also highly anticipated by the people of Northern Europe and the Celts. Pope Gelase would feed the pilgrims with pancakes when they reached Rome. Crêpes were made with the flour from the previous wheat crop, and that flour could be used somewhat liberally since the new crop was not that far away anymore.
Crêpes introduced to Brittany:
Crêpes/pancakes were made all over Europe long before bread was baked; they were not necessarily specific to the Brittany region. The Bretons became famous for the galette, which is a crêpe made with buckwheat flour (sarrasin) instead of wheat flour (froment). The buckwheat plant, originally from Asia, is introduced in Europe during the 15th century and makes its way into Brittany where it is well-suited to the poor, acidic soil of the region. Because the seeds are black and yield gray flour, buckwheat is also referred to as "blê noir" (black wheat).
Originally, galettes and crêpes were made on a "Billig", a disk of cast iron set on a tripod directly into the fireplace; later on, the Billig was placed on a gas stove; nowadays, electric Billigs are more prevalent. One thing that has not changed, though, is the "rozell", the toothless rake used to spread the batter uniformly on the cooking surface.
The crêpe is flipped over with a long-bladed spatula but, when using a regular frying pan, it brings good luck and prosperity to flip it one handed, while holding a coin in the other hand.
The Tradition in France:
In France, crêpes are traditionally served on Candlemas (La Chandeleur), February 2. This day was originally Virgin Mary's Blessing Day but became known as "Crêpe Day", referring to the tradition of offering crêpes. The belief was that if you could catch the crêpe with a frying pan after tossing it in the air with your left hand and holding a gold coin in your right hand, you would become rich that year.
There are all kinds of French proverbs and sayings for Chandeleur; here are just a few:
- À la Chandeleur, l'hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur/ On Candlemas, winter’s over or strengthens
- À la Chandeleur, le jour croît de deux heures/On Candlemas, the day is longer by two hours
- Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte/Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days of losses
- Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière heure/Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour
In Other Countries: Crêpes can be compared to the African injera, the Indian Dosa and Kuzhalappam and the Mexican sope. In Norwegian, it's called Pannekake, and in Dutch it's pannenkoeken. In Italy, crêpes are called crespella. In the Spanish regions of Galicia and Asturias they are tradi-tionally served at carnivals. In Galicia they're called filloas, and may also be made with pork blood instead of milk. In Asturias they're called fayueles or frixuelos. In Turkey they are called "Akitma". In Argentina they are called "panqueques" and are often eaten with dulce de leche (caramel).
B. LA RECETTE (Serving approx 20 crêpes)
500g de farine, du sel, 6 œufs, 2 cuillères à soupe d'huile, 2 cuillères à soupe de rhum ou de vanille, 50 mL de bière, 50 mL de lait
Put all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl in this order:
1. mix flour + salt; dig a well
2. Add eggs + oil/butter
3. Add milk and beer slowly: add 1 cup in mixing bowl and start mixing slowly till you obtain smooth and lump free dough. Then, repeat the process.
4. Let rest at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
5. You can keep crêpe batter for up to 5 days depending on the freshness of the eggs and milk used. Mix well before using and store in refrigerator in airtight container or bottle.
Tips: You may adjust this recipe to your liking by increasing the proportion of the following:
- More Flour = Thicker
- More Eggs = Richer taste and more colorful
- More Sugar = More Golden, crispy
- Water instead of Milk = Lighter, more crispy
- More whole Milk = Richer, tastier
- More Oil = More marbled
- More Butter = Richer taste & color
- More Beer = more cheeky ;)
P.S: You could also try to make some Crêpe Suzette, a crêpe with beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier or orange Curaçao liqueur on top, prepared in a tableside performance, flambé.
Here is a recipe in French: