Crepes For 15

While serving up crepes for a Sunday brunch at my place, I learned a few things that weren't necessarily in the recipe books. I'll share them with you here.

Batter Up!

- I made two different batches. Alton's Good Eats crepe recipe takes 5 minutes to combine, and 10 seconds to blend. The Crepes de Froment, stolen out of this French crepe recipe book, takes at least 30 minutes of hard work, the old-fashioned way.
- You cannot avoid the egg yolks; they're important to the chemistry of the batter. Try EggBeaters instead, if you are a yolk-paranoid health freak.
- The more you work the flour / batter mixture, the tougher and more chewy your crepes will be. (That's bad.) That's why Good Eats' method was actually more tender (though we could attribute this to my growing experience as well).
- Batter consistency is really hard to get perfectly, but should be kind of like buttermilk. To thin out the batter, they might tell you to add water, but use 50-50 water-milk so you don't lose the richness.
- Each person is likely going to eat 3 to 5 crepes, so plan accordingly (since the batter has to rest). And it might not look like much batter, but these are crepes, not pancakes: crepes use barely any batter at all!
- You definitely need to rest the batter for at least two hours, says Alton. Even overnight is fine. (Says me.)

alton brown, my culinary idol

Now We're Cooking!

- Keep the pan on medium-low heat. Last night, they were coming out great -- heat setting was 4.8 (out of 10).
- You don't need a special crepe pan -- a flat bottom one that is either seasoned steel or non-stick (like mine) does fine. And you don't need a special crepe spatula either.
- You only really need to butter the pan for the first crepe, and then wipe it down with a paper towel -- when there isn't any visible butter left, that's the perfect amount! I found that all crepes afterward needed no buttering (if you're using a decent non-stick pan); healthier.
- The first crepe is always a throw-away; it's a last-minute check on the pan temperature and batter consistency.
- Drop the batter and try to swirl the pan; if the batter is running in streaks instead of coating the surface nicely, your pan's too hot. Feed that one to the dog, or use as a taste test.
- If your crepe is almost frying on the bottom, your heat's probably too high and you have way too much butter underneath.
- If you see bubbles puffing up your crepe, it's too thick. (I figure this is because the bubbles can't escape that kind of thickness, so a thin crepe allows bubbles to get away.)
- A crepe spreader helps a lot in making them thin as possible -- but it needs to be slightly wider than the radius of the crepe pan. My spreader was cheap, but far too wide for the pan, so I don't use it.
- If the crepe is thin enough, it should only need to cook for about a minute or two each side.
- Flipping the crepe is not hard, once you get the right wrist motion, but don't try it for your first time with spectators (unless they're ready to catch it).
not a crepe that i made- As soon as you flip the crepe, start with the toppings, particularly the cheese to be melted. The rest can come later, after you've served it on a plate.
- Serve the crepe on a plate and have the gourmands take it outside to top with their favourites (and get the heck out of your way).
- Crepes are supposed to be light and tender, so don't expect them to hold stuffing like your everyday wraps or burritos, unless you like it all over your pants.
- Once I get the timing down, I could probably handle three pans in parallel if someone else can put the toppings in them.
- People get antsy waiting for their crepes -- you can either have it fast, or done right, not both.
- And they all think they can do it better than you. Even if they never cooked before.

Ooh, I just found another site that describes a different recipe and has play-by-play pictures. I'm certainly no master at it, but it really isn't anywhere near as hard as people think. Anyway, I think I need to pay another visit to the Los Gatos Farmer's Market to watch that guy do it again.

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