By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
Last week in our food appreciation classes we made savory buckwheat crepes stuffed with ham and cheese. I knew the kids would be thrilled if we continued our exploration of French food by sampling the sweeter side of crepes cuisine. Dessert crepes are just as easy to make, and strawberries are in high season. The result: crepes wrapped around strawberries and whipped cream. Naturally, the kids loved it.
After last week's crepes adventure my wife, who knows a thing or two about making crepes from her years as a catering chef, said mine were too thick and flabby. Obviously, she said, I wasn't getting my pan hot enough, and my batter was too thick. She pulled a real crepe pan from under the stove (who knew we had several?) and demonstrated a proper technique--after adding some more milk to my batter.
So this week I followed her instructions and voila! Crepes that are light and nicely browned, as you see in the photo. I may not be an expert, but my crepes are starting to look more like what I remember eating in my travels through Brittany years ago.
Crepes are basically the French version of pancakes, but the batter contains no rising agent and is much thinner. Start by whisking together 2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup water and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup flour and 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour the egg mix into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, then add 2 tablespoons melted butter.
To make the crepes, use a well-seasoned skillet. An authentic crepe pan of heavy steel works best as it will heat up to the correct temperature and is less rounded--more angular--where the bottom meats the sides. When the pan is hot, grease the bottom with a little butter, tilt the pan at an angle and pour in just enough batter to coat the bottom. Move the batter around by tilting the pan one way, then another.
When all signs of wetness have disappeared from the top of the crepe and the underside is browned, use an offset spatula to flip it over. You won't need to cook the other side more than about 15 seconds, or until it is lightly browned as well. You should get a dozen or more crepes from this recipe. Just add a little more milk if it seems to thick.
We didn't do anything special to the strawberries. Simply remove the stems, slice each into four pieces and toss with a little sugar to draw out the juices. Scoop some into the center of each crepe, the top with whipped cream. (Hint: add a little vanilla to the cream). Fold each side of the crepe toward the middle and flip it over. Serve with a dusting of confectioner's sugar.