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Francophone Sweetness

March 21, 2012

When you think of a French dessert, what do you think of?  Creme brulee, probably…  and what’s the next one?  Crepes!  Everybody loves those thin layers of tasty.  Folded or flat, topped with fresh fruit and some ice cream or whipped cream, crepes can be found in pretty much any movie or book set in Paris.

In Hungary, crepes are also a favorite – however, we stuff them.  Sometimes sweet – with cottage cheese and raisins, chocolate, or cinnamon-sugar fillings -, and sometimes even salty: pureed chicken stew with sour cream, or even ham and cheese, deep-fried.

Here is a quick and simple recipe that can be used for both sweet or salty fillings!

I learned this recipe for pancakes when I was working at a large hotel in Hungary – this is kind of an “industrial standard” recipe.  Here the proportions are majorly scaled down: I used to make this from 30-60 eggs every day!

To start off the batter, mix together 2 eggs and 200 g of flour (or for an easy reference, 10 eggs to a kilogram), using a wire whisk.  Don’t use an electric beater – the batter can get overworked from that, getting too many air bubbles which in turn cause holes in the crepes.

Eggs and flour

So... few... eggs...

Slowly add enough water to this to form a very thin batter – way thinner than pancake batter!  I used about 2 cups of water at first, then ended up needing a little more.  As the mixture slowly gets smooth, add a big slosh of vegetable oil – just enough so that as you pour it in, you see it “bubble back up” to the surface.

Oil

Bubbling back up

Now that the batter is almost done, let it rest for about 15 minutes.  This will give time for the flour to form its gluten fibers, so the batter will reach its final thickness.  Once the rest is over with, mix the batter once again.  If it thickened up a lot, add more water, until it’s thin enough to just lightly coat the back of a spoon.

Batter

A little clue on how thick the batter should look

In a large skillet, or preferably a crepe pan, heat just a few drops of vegetable oil over medium-high to high heat.  Do not use cooking spray – they tend to burn onto the surface at these temperatures, making the pan ultimately stickier!  Once the pan is hot, pour about 1/2 cup batter into the center of the skillet, then move the pan around to spread the batter everywhere in a thin, uniform layer.

Frying 1

Spread the batter out over the pan

Let the crepe fry until it releases itself from the bottom, then flip it around.  You can use a spatula for it, but the “real pros” flip it mid-air by tossing the crepe up and catching it upside down with the pan!  My pan was kind of too large, hence my sunburst-looking crepes.

Flipped

Flipped

Put the crepes in a nifty stack on a large plate until they are ready to fill.  If you’re using dry fillings, like cinnamon-sugar or cocoa-sugar, fill them while still warm, so the steam and the heat helps transform the fillings into gooey goodness in the center.  If you’re using cold fillings, like cottage cheese or jam, let them cool down to room temperature.

Stack

Stackin' up

For the cinnamon-sugar filling, use about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon with 1/2 cup of white sugar; for the cocoa-sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa with 1/2 cup of sugar.  You can also use fruits, jams, Nutella – even peanut butter and jelly!  Just spread the filling in a thin layer over half of the crepe, then roll it up starting with the filled edge.

Rolling

Roll, roll, roll your crepe...

In Hungary, crepes are commonly seen as a “Dad treat” – something that’s often made by fathers who have a day at home with their kids.  While you cook the crepes, the kids can mix up the fillings and fill the crepes, and then everyone can sit down for a snack; a great way to spend an indoorsy Saturday!

Crepes

Crepes

Enjoy your meal!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 21, 2012 08:58

    I like the part about it being a dad treat, but since I don’t have kids I’ll tell my hubby it’s a husband treat. 😉

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