Lessons in Living a French Life

Bringing a touch of French culture to everyday life

Today's Weekly Voilà: The French Crepe. A delicious treat to enjoy any time of year ☺️💕🇫🇷



 Love is a fire of flaming brandy upon a crêpe suzette.

- Anatole France, French novelist 


The French Crêpe. Sprinkled with sugar and eaten hot. That golden color that tempts you to take a bite. Thin and transparent like fine handkerchief linen. The edges like fine lace. What an exquisite dish.  Crêpes form an integral part of French traditions. Served with cider, they are linked to the most joyful occasions.

Striving for the perfect color on a French crêpe requires the perfect pan. Nonstick allows you to add the butter to the batter, rather than the crêpe pan. This is my trick for getting a consistent golden brown color. 
The word "crepe" comes from the Latin word "crispus" which means "crisp." (Just about the extent of my high school Latin, I'm afraid.) Tradition holds that the first crêpes were made in Brittany, in the northwestern part of France, perhaps in the 13th century. Legend has it that some good Britton woman spilled porridge on a hot skillet and the French Crêpe was born. Wheat does not grow in this region but buckwheat thrives. So you will find traditional crêpes are made with buckwheat flour.

Since ancient times, the French have marked the beginning of February with light-hearted pagan celebrations marking the end of winter. It was also a time when leftover seed could be ground and consumed as a thin pancake. The eating of crêpes at this time was believed to bring prosperity in the new year. Pagan traditions were blended into early Christian celebrations. February 2nd is a Holy Day for Christians called Candlemas. It commemorates the presentation of Jesus to the temple. For centuries, Christians would bring their candles, representing the "Light of the Lord" to their local churches to be blessed and thus, provide protection against evil throughout the year. Crêpes were continued to be consumed as part of this holiday because - well - they're delicious.

Today in France, February 2nd is known as La Chandeleur or "the return of the light."  It symbolizes that Spring is on its way. Think of it as France's Groundhog Day. And like their pagan ancestors, they celebrate by eating crêpes because this thin pancake looks like the sun and reminds one that the cold days of winter will soon be over. 

You don't have to be French to observe "the day of the crêpe." The recipe comes down to the simplest of ingredients: flour, milk, egg, and butter. The key to the perfect crêpe is the pan. You can purchase an expensive but traditional and oh so beautiful copper pan to make your crêpes. Or you might have your family's well-seasoned iron crêpe pan. I love my 10 inch quality nonstick crêpe pan that I bought in France. No matter what you use, the sides must be low so to allow you to flip the crêpe. Trust me on this. I speak from experience.
1/4 c. (30 g.) butter
1 c. (150 gr.) flour
11 oz. (325 ml.) milk
1 large egg
Dash of salt (optional)
  1. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly.
  2. I use a blender to mix the flour, milk, and egg.
  3. Add the melted butter and blend briefly.
  4. Allow the liquid to rest for an hour or two. I often prepare the night before and place the mixture in the fridge. In the morning, stir in a bit of milk if the liquid is too thick. You are looking for the consistency of cream.
  5. Heat your seasoned or nonstick pan and add a small ladleful to the center. Swirl it around so the batter coats the bottom of the pan without being too thick. Remember we are going for transparent handkerchief linen ;)
  6. It takes just a minute or two to cook. The edges will start to brown. Flip the crêpe using a spatula (it takes a bit of practice) and cook the other side for 30 seconds or so. 
  7. Remove the crêpe from the pan and stack them on top of baking paper. Store in a warm oven while you prepare the remaining batter.
After they are made, you can fill your crêpes with whatever you like. They can be salty with cheese and spinach. They can be sweet and filled with jam or chocolate. I like them with a bit of sugar and fresh lemon squeezed over the top.

Up for a bit of French flair? Pour the juice of 2 oranges into a saucepan with the zest of 1 orange, 1/2 cup of butter (it's France after all), and 1/2 of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes until syrupy. Overlap 8 pre made crêpes folded into quarters into a flameproof dish such as a copper gratin pan (Look at the photograph below and swoon.) Pour the warm syrup over the top. Then heat just a bit to warm the crêpes through. If you like, warm a bit of Grand Marnier in the empty syrup saucepan, pour over the warmed crêpes, and light on fire.

Voilà! Crêpes Suzette!
Photo by Lis Parsons from Nigella Lawson's cookbook, Nigella Express.
The crêpe vendors in Paris make this French delicacy so effortlessly. It does take a bit of time learning how to flip your crêpe. A wooden crêpe spatula helps but is not required. Be sure the crêpe is cooked thoroughly on its first side and the edges are golden brown before you turn it. It looks harder than it really is. Just a bit of delicious practice. 

This weekend, try mastering the art of French crêpes.
Your family will be glad you did!

À bientôt mon amie,

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I have added my handmade needle books to Le Shop. I'll also be hunting for some more vintage Christmas treasures over the next two weeks. Click here to enter the shop and learn more. I'll be making other goodies inspired by my French lifestyle essentials after the first of the year. You'll find my handmade items under "Made By Moi."