Until just a few years ago I had never really eaten crepes at all. Sure, we made the obligatory crepes in French class in high school, but the whole thing seemed difficult and overdone (much like my teacher) to me. She went on and on about making them and being authentic and blah, blah, blah... then she pulled out styrofoam plates filled with batter and an upside down pan that we were to dip into the batter to cook our crepes. Somehow this didn't seem to authentic to me.
Now, I'm not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with that type of crepe pan, but, since most of us couldn't get the batter on there without melting styrofoam onto the pan as well, it just didn't seem like such an incredible thing to me - especially since the crepes tasted about as good as the styrofoam - at least there was ice cream though - oh, and chocolate sauce.
Fast forward, oh about six years to working with one of the attorneys in our office who had spent a few years in France. He always went crazy when anyone mispronounced crepes (still does) and claimed to make wonderful authentic crepes - which he also does. They were incredible and seemed to be out of my culinary reach. He had the secret batter, the special pan and tools, just the right technique, etc. I was duly impressed and happy to consume several of the crepes he made for us.
There is something about simple French foods that just intimidates me at times into thinking I just can't make it - or so I thought.
Fast forward again, about two more years to breakfast at a friend's house where crepes were served. I knew that this family often had crepes with fresh fruit and cream and juice and had the most wonderful al fresco breakfasts out on their deck overlooking the valley and lake. The crepes were flavorful, tender and perfect. I once again figured that they must have been an awful lot of work to make and that they must have all the special tools. I just resigned myself that I would someday have the money to get all the "right" tools and until then I would just love those crepes from afar.
This brings us to about two years at same friend's house. I was there when we were going to make breakfast and she was going to make crepes. I thought, "oh yum, I'll get to see how it is done." So, how was it done? On a regular old big countertop pancake griddle, with the back of a metal spoon to spread the batter and a regular spatula to flip. And this is how they are always done at her house. Now, I am a big fan of authentic techniques and tools, but this showed me that I too could have crepes any time I wanted. So. Now we do.
I have tried several different batter recipes and until now, hadn't found one that I just loved hands down. I tried one, but since it called for a large amount of alcohol (and we don't drink or ever have alcohol on hand) the recipe seemed difficult to me to adapt - of course I could just sub water, but where is the fun in that? Besides, I wanted to find a recipe I loved where I would always have all the ingredients on hand.
When Suzana of Home Gourmets announced that the latest round of Hay Hay It's Donna Day! (that wonderful event created by Barbara and now cared for and organized by Bron) was going to be all about Pancakes! -- well, you know I just had to throw something into the ring. I am so glad that I did because I decided, rather than using that other crepe recipe I mentioned above, I would use one of Donna Hay's recipes (well, I changed it a bit to add some extra flavor in the form of butter and vanilla).
I love this recipe. I'm sure that I would love it without my changes as well, but for the purposes of what I wanted to do, this was absolutely perfect. The batter was simple and straightforward to make and wasn't so runny that it made a complete mess on the griddle trying to cook the crepes.
So, for my entry for HHDD, here is Donna Hay's crepe recipe - slightly changed by me - and served two ways. For a very decadent breakfast treat you can serve these as I did, filled with a spread of chocolately Nutella and folded then drizzled with some warm Burnt Caramel Hazelnut Praline Sauce for good measure (first picture). I did mention it was decadent, didn't I? For this sauce, I just melted a bit of butter, caramelized it with some sugar and tossed in a handful of chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Yum!
For a slightly simpler way to serve these (and actually, my favorite) I just cooked the crepes and then melted some butter and sugar together in the pan and recooked the crepes so they were covered in the melty, caramely sugar. Yeah, what's not to love about that. If you want to be slightly healthier than me, well, add some fresh fruit. Me? I just eat them by the stack. Either way, I hope you'll give this crepe recipe a shot, because, for me - I've finally found my go-to recipe.
(Adapted from Donna Hay Modern Classics 2)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 2/3 Cups milk
2/3 Cup cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or pure almond extract
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the caster sugar and salt. Combine the eggs, milk, cream, and extract, whisking well. Add the melted butter and combine well. Slowly whisk into the flour until smooth. Allow to stand for 20 minutes. Cook the crepes in a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat until light golden on each side. Serve warm. Makes 20.