My first experience with crêpes was in high school. I took French back then, and joined the French Club for something to add to my college application. I even became the secretary of the French Club, meaning that I did, basically, rien. Nothing. It was the perfect role for my nerdy, lazy, 17-year-old self. Anyway, we had an annual French Club party, and Madame Gordy would bring in her crêpe maker so we could all enjoy sweet crêpes together.
A few years later, I spent a semester in Bordeaux, France. We visited Paris often, and we liked to stop at street vendors and order crêpes for a treat. I always admired the elegant swoop, swoop movement of the vendor’s hand as she spread the batter around the surface of the crêpe maker. She (or he) would hand us our crêpes, filled with Nutella and folded into quarters so they were easy to hold. I distinctly remember this day, when I was meandering through the Latin Quarter by myself. I sat on the edge of that fountain with a crêpe and watched families and tourists go by, and admired the old streets, the bookstores and the bridges across the Seine.
When I was in Kansas City last month, my friend Jordan decided to make crepes for breakfast. She reminded me that crepes do not, in fact, require a crepe maker. They’re also much easier to whip together and cook more quickly than one might think. She filled ours with scrambled eggs, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes. So good.
So I’d been meaning to cook crepes, and I also wanted to try the rhubarb sauce for this week’s Food Matters Project recipe. With my brother’s birthday and Easter last weekend, I hadn’t gotten a chance to try it. Tuesday rolls around and I decide to go for it, and what would I decide to go with it? Crepes. The buckwheat crepes I had bookmarked in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.
Unfortunately, nothing worked as planned. Thanks to last summer’s drought, I couldn’t find fresh rhubarb anywhere. My hopes for shooting shockingly bright pink stalks of rhubarb dashed, I finally found frozen rhubarb and decided to give it a go. I didn’t give much consideration to how well tart, sweet-and-sour sauce and nutty whole grain crepes would go together.
Onward. I whizzed the crepe batter together in my food processor and heated up my cast-iron skillet, hoping that it be a sufficiently non-stick surface (I gave away all my non-stick pans last year). My first crepe didn’t cook up right, but it still tasted great, so I shared it with Cookie as I cooked up the rest of the crepes. Fortunately, I got the temperature setting and technique down and the next few crepes were round paper-thin around the edges, just the way I like them.
I spread vanilla Greek yogurt over a crepe, folded it into quarters and topped it with rhubarb sauce. Hm. It wasn’t very pretty and it didn’t taste as great with the crepes as I had hoped. The crepes and the sauce were great independently and the combination was 100% edible, but they just weren’t meant to be together.
Savory crepes to the rescue! After this asparagus frittata, I knew how well eggs, goat cheese, shallot and asparagus go together. I snapped off the tough ends of a handful of asparagus stalks and tossed them in olive oil with salt and pepper. I baked the asparagus at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, in a cast iron pan, for about 10 minutes, until they were fork tender. I sautéed some shallots, then added scrambled eggs with a dash of milk and folded in crumbled goat cheese at the end. Crepe met asparagus, scrambled eggs landed on top, and voilà, an amazing savory springtime crepe was born.
- 1/2 cup whole spelt flour*
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar (up to 1 1/2 tablespoons for sweeter crepes)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
- In a food processor, blender or big bowl, combine the flours, sugar and salt. Pulse it a few times or whisk it to combine.
- Pour the milk into a liquid measuring cup and add the eggs and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the food processor, blender or bowl and process or whisk until the batter is well blended. Scrape down the sides once during the mixing process.
- Heat a medium-sized pan**. Once the pan is hot, pour in a bit of melted butter. Use a clean rag or paper towel to spread the butter evenly, you don’t need a ton in there.
- Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle batter into the pan. Quickly pick up the pan and swirl the batter around in so it evenly covers the entire surface of the base. Cook the crepe until the bottom is firm and speckled with brown spots, less than 1 minute. Loosen the edges and flip the crepe to cook on the other side (I used a large silicone spatula for this step). Once the crepe is speckled and golden on both sides, slide it onto a plate. Repeat until you have used up the batter (keep stacking the crepes on the plate to keep them warm).
- Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.
- The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons brandy, which I did not have, so I replaced it with 2 extra tablespoons of milk. I’d be interested to know how brandy affects the flavor, especially since I enjoyed the crepes so much without it.
- *For gluten-free crepes, use all buckwheat flour.
- **I used a 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron pan here, which worked fine and yielded 8 crepes (5 of which were perfectly round, the rest were broken or misshapen… that may have had more to do with me than the pan!). An 8-inch crêpe maker or non-stick pan would also work. The original recipe says it will yield 10 to 12 8-inch crepes.
Random Rhubarb Sauce Recipe for the rhubarb curious. It’s great, just not on crepes!
Adapted from Green Market Baking Book
- 2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped
- 1/4 cup honey (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1/3 cup water
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly with a small whisk or a fork for several minutes, until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
- Done! If you’re going for a super smooth texture, you might also want to go to the trouble of blending it and straining it through a fine mesh strainer. I haven’t tried.
This makes a tart, honey-sweetened rhubarb sauce. You can also trade berries for the rhubarb; a sweet berry sauce would probably go nicely with these crepes. See my blueberry sauce variation here and cranberry sauce here.
You know what this sauce would be great on? Ice cream. Vanilla bean ice cream. If you’re interested in savory uses for rhubarb sauce, check out the comments under this week’s Food Matters Project post.
Lastly, I’d be honored if you would vote Cookie and Kate for Saveur’s Best Cooking Blog Award. Note that you have to be registered and logged in to vote (look under the voting choices for a link to login or register now. You’ll know that your vote has gone through when you get a popup that says, “Thanks for voting!”). Thank you!