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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Buckwheat crepes are originally from Brittany and parts of Normandy. Buckwheat is called blé noir in Brittany, and sarrasin in the rest of France.
There’s no agreement about what a “real” crepe is made of. The original peasant version was made of buckwheat flour, water, and salt. But buckwheat batter is much easier to handle if it has a little wheat flour or an egg in it, so most modern recipes call for one or both. We’ve tried many combinations; two follow. The first is a simple “pure” version; the second is a more modern blend, easier to handle on the griddle. For either, try using two griddles, because flipping the crepes over can be tricky.
Like many basic food techniques, crepe making takes practice to master. The happy news is that we “outsiders” can, with a little effort, turn out good-tasting crepes that are a pleasure to eat, even if they aren’t as fine and perfect as those of a crepe master. You can make the batter by hand or in a stand mixer or food processor. Before you begin to cook, put out an offset spatula or a large ladle for spreading the batter. And make sure your griddles are well seasoned and smooth.
For the Basic Buckwheat Crepes:
By hand: Place the flour and salt in a bowl, add 1 cup water, and stir with a wooden spoon or your hand until smooth and stiff. Add more water, stirring, until you have a batter with the consistency of mayonnaise. Beat for 10 minutes.
Using a stand mixer or a food processor: Place the flour, salt, and water in the bowl and mix or process for 5 minutes.
Cover the batter while you heat two griddles or heavy skillets over medium-high heat. Wipe the cooking surfaces with a lightly oiled paper towel or cotton cloth.
Scoop up 2 to 3 tablespoons batter and dribble it in a spiral on one griddle, then immediately spread it from the center outward, using the back of a large ladle or an offset spatula. (Your first few crepes will be a little thick and uneven as you experiment with temperature and quantity and as you work out a system for spreading the batter.) Cook the first side for about 1 minute, then flip the crepe onto the other griddle and cook until set, about 1 minute. Put a little butter on top and, when it melts, fold the crepe in half and serve it. Repeat with the remaining batter.
For the Modern Crepes:
By hand: Place the flours and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add the egg and 1 cup water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until a smooth, stiff dough forms. Add more water, stirring, until you have a smooth batter; do not beat.
Using a stand mixer or a food processor: Combine the flours, salt, egg, and water in the bowl and mix or process to a smooth batter. Heat two griddles and cook the crepes as directed above.
Once you’ve flipped the crepe over, you can break an egg onto it in the center. Use a fork to scramble it, or just spread the white. Top with a little butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the egg sets, then fold the four edges over to cover the egg. Serve with a little pat of butter on top.
In upper Brittany, galette is the word for buckwheat crepes and the word crepe is used only for the more recent (in the last one hundred years or so) wheat flour crepes. In lower Brittany, around Quimper and the Bay of Douarnenez, the whole range of the species, savory or sweet, made with buckwheat or wheat flour or a combination, is known as crepes.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Serving size is 1 crepe. Nutritional information is based on the Basic buckwheat crepe recipe and does not include butter for serving.