This is the standard batter that I use for so many of my crepes, both savory and sweet. To boost the “dessertiness” of the crêpes, add about 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the batter. I always use the blender to make crepe batter, but you can of course whisk together the batter by hand, if you like.
My advice is to make a double or triple batch of these crepes. Spend 45 peaceful minutes making them, and then tuck them into your freezer in packets of around eight crepes each. Then you’ll have the best fast-food option on the planet at your fingertips. If you’re new to crepe-making, prepare to mess up the first crepe (or even more) as you get the hang of swirling the batter into the pan, having your pan at the right temperature, and the timing. These are a popular after-school snack for kids lucky enough to live in crepe loving countries.
Incredible flavor comes from the addition of brown butter, or beurre noisette in French, which means “hazelnut butter.” It’s an apt name because the milk solids in the butter get toasted into a lovely mellow nuttiness. You can instead anoint the crepes with butter, sugar, and lemon. (See Variations following the recipe.)–Martha Holmberg
LC Fold, Flip, Flop, Or Otherwise Finagle Note
Yes, the making of crepes is pretty much dictated by precise techniques and turns of the wrist. But the folding, flopping, or otherwise finagling of crepes onto plates is a lot less defined. As author Martha Holmberg notes, “All ways are good. The key is to eat them right away while they’re warm, and watch out for dripping butter!” Amen to that. Still, it’s handy to have a few optional flourishes in your apron pocket. For beginners, you can simply flop a crepe on a plate, leaving it flat as a pancake, and call it a day, er, journée. Or you can stack two or three crepes on a plate for more robust appetites. Beyond that, you can simply fold a crepe over itself to create a half-moon. Or take that half-moon and flip it over again into quarters. Or roll it into a tight cylinder. We’re fairly certain there are more ambitious crepe shapes you could attempt—airplanes, anyone?—though the aforementioned options have proven to be more than sufficient for us.
Basic Crepes Recipe
Hands-On Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes | Makes 15 to 18 crêpes
- 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
- 1. Place 1 3/4 cups milk, the eggs, and salt into a blender. Whiz for a few seconds to blend everything together. Remove the lid, add the flour, cover, and blend again until very smooth, about 20 seconds. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and whiz until combined, about 10 seconds more.
- 2. Pour the batter into a large glass measuring cup with a spout (or a bowl that’s large enough to easily dip a 1/4-cup measuring cup into). Let the batter rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. (If resting for more than 30 minutes, cover and stash the batter in the fridge.)
- 3. When you’re ready to make the crepes, test the batter’s consistency; it should be as thick as heavy cream but not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in a little more milk at a time, using up to a 1/2 cup more.
- 4. Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. Using a folded paper towel, spread about 1/2 teaspoon butter around the interior of the pan. You want the pan to be sufficiently hot so that the butter sizzles upon contact, but not so hot that it instantly burns and turns brown.
- 5. Pour about 1/4 cup crepe batter into the center of the pan and at the same time (or very shortly thereafter) lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan into a thin circle. (If the crepe has any holes, quickly add a few drops of batter to fill them. Or if you’ve ladled in too much batter and the crepe looks too thick, immediately pour the excess back into the measuring cup or bowl of batter; if there’s a “tail” that’s left behind, you can trim that later.)
- 6. Cook the crepe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan and the bottom is nicely browned, about 1 minute. (To check for color, use a table knife, slim off-set spatula, or your fingers to lift up an edge of the crêpe and peek underneath.) When the first side is ready, use the knife, spatula, or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats and then cook until the center is firm and the second side is browned, about 20 seconds more. The first side is almost always much prettier and more evenly browned (in these recipes, we’ll call it the presentation side), while the second side tends to be more spotty.
- 7. Slide the crepe from the pan onto a large plate or cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more butter as you cook. You can stack the crêpes on the plate as they’re done. Serve the crêpes individually or in short stacks or, if desired, fold the crepe in half to create a half-moon shape, or fold it again into quarters.
- 8. To stash the crepes in the freezer, place pieces of waxed or parchment paper between the crepes so they don’t stick to one another. Then wrap the stack in plastic wrap, slide it into a large resealable freezer bag, and keep in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Let the stack sit at room temperature until the crepes are pliable, about an hour, and then peel them apart and proceed with your recipe.
To stash the crepes in the fridge, just stack them neatly; no need for the paper separators. (Keep the stacks small if you usually cook for just a few people, or make the stack larger if you find yourself cooking for a crowd most nights.) Slide the crepes into a large resealable plastic bag and toss them in the fridge.The crepes will keep like this for up to 3 days. Let the stack sit at room temperature until the crepes are pliable, about an hour, and then peel them apart and proceed with your recipe.
- Brown Butter Crepes
- For most recipes, I not only melt the butter, but I cook it until the water has boiled off and the milk solids are starting to turn golden and take on a toasty flavor. At this stage, it’s called beurre noisette in French (“hazelnut butter”) or brown butter in English. I think it’s such a clever way to add a depth of flavor to the crêpes. Simply substitute brown butter for the butter, tablespoon for tablespoon, in the ingredient list above. To make brown butter, melt 7 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling the pan every few seconds, until all of the water from the butter has sizzled off and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan begin to turn a pale golden color, 2 to 4 minutes. Continue cooking the butter until it turns golden brown and smells nutty and delicious, another few seconds. Immediately pour the brown butter into a bowl to stop the cooking. Let it cool to room temperature before using. (You should have about 6 tablespoons brown butter.) When you add the butter to your crêpe recipe, be sure to include the delicious toasty brown milk solids.
- Lemon, Sugar, and Butter Crepes
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Lay the crepe, presentation-side up, in the skillet and let it heat through for about 15 seconds. Flip it over, and using a rubber spatula or the bottom of a spoon, spread it with 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature. Sprinkle the butter with 1/4 teaspoon granulated or confectioners’ sugar (or more to taste), then fold the crepe into a half-moon shape and sprinkle again with sugar, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Then fold once more into a triangle. Sprinkle with more sugar if desired. Slide the crepe onto a plate and eat it right away. (Or, if you’re the lazy sort, just stack two or three crepes on a plate, each one buttered, sugared, and “lemon-ed.”)
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Basic Crepes Recipe © 2012 Martha Holmberg. Photo © 2012 James Baigrie. All rights reserved.