Every French household makes use of crêpes, not only as a festive dessert for Mardi Gras and Candlemas Day, but as an attractive way to turn leftovers or simple ingredients into a nourishing main-course dish. Crêpes may be rolled around a filling of fish, meat, or vegetables, spread with sauce, and browned under the broiler. More spectacular is a gâteau de crêpes in which the pancakes are piled upon each other in a stack of 24, each spread with a filling. This is then heated in the oven and gratinéed with a good sauce. Or the crêpes may be piled in a soufflé mold with alternating layers of filling, heated in the oven, unmolded, and coated with sauce. Whatever system you decide upon, including rolled crêpes, your dish may be prepared in advance and heated up when you are ready to serve. Dessert crêpes, called crêpes sucrées, and entrée crêpes, crêpes salées, have slightly different proportions, but their batters are blended and cooked in the same way. The following recipe is made with an electric blender, because it is so quick. If you do not have one, gradually blend the eggs into the flour, beat in the liquid by spoonfuls, then the butter, and strain the batter to get rid of any possible lumps. Crêpe batter should be made at least 2 hours before it is to be used; this allows the flour particles to expand in the liquid and insures a tender, light, thin crêpe.
Yield: About 12 crepes, 6 to 6 1/2 inches in diameter
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
½ tsp salt
1½ cups flour (scooped, see Notes)
4 Tb melted butter
A piece of fat bacon or pork rind; OR 2 to 3 Tb cooking oil
Put the liquids, eggs, and salt into the blender jar. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If, after making your first crêpe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time. Your cooked crêpe should be about 1/16 inch thick.
Method for Making Crêpes: The first crêepe is a trial one to test out the consistency of your batter, the exact amount you need for the pan, and the heat. Rub the skillet with the rind or brush it lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke. Immediately remove from heat and, holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant ¼ cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. (Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl; judge the amount for your next crêpe accordingly.) This whole operation takes but 2 or 3 seconds. Return the pan to heat for 60 to 80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crêpe. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crêpe is ready for turning. Turn the crêpe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan. Brown lightly for about ½ minute on the other side. This second side is rarely more than a spotty brown, and is always kept as the underneath or non public aspect of the crêpe. As they are done, slide the crêpes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate. Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and proceed with the rest of the crêpes. Crêpes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in a slow oven. Or they may be made several hours in advance and reheated when needed. (Crêpes freeze perfectly.) As soon as you are used to the procedure, you can keep 2 pans going at once, and make 24 crêpes in less than half an hour.
Equipment: An iron skillet or a crêpe pan with a 6½- to 7-inch bottom diameter, a ladle or measure to hold 3 to 4 Tb or ¼ cup, a pastry brush, a rubber scraper
Scoop the dry-measure cup directly into your flour container and fill the cup to overflowing; do not shake the cup or pack down the flour. Sweep off excess so that flour is even with the lip of the cup, using a straight edge of some sort. Sift only after measuring.