Meet Crepes: Pancakes' Skinnier, Fancier Cousins

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A crêpe might look like a skinny pancake, but it's so much more versatile than the good old American flapjack!
Yes, they are both made from a thin batter and cooked on a flat surface, but what happens to a crêpe after it comes off the griddle sets it worlds apart from the pancake.  
Unlike the pancake, the crêpe is generally used as a wrapper for other foods rather than the main attraction.  Crêpes can be sweet or savory, and they're eaten as hors d'oeuvres, entrees and dessert. It really is a world-class dish, and as such, it answers to many names:

In Italy, crêpes are crespelle. They're often filled with cheese and baked like manicotti. In China, they're known as "bing," and filled with everything from green onions to fruit. And in Russia, crêpes become blinis, stuffed with all sorts of sweet and savory ingredients.
Today we're focusing on the French version, the one we might know best stuffed with banana and Nutella and eaten out of hand on a Parisian street corner (in our daydreams!). They named their pancake "crêpes" because their thin, lacy edges resemble the fabric of the same name.  Traditional crêpes are made using lots of eggs and melted butter, then extra melted butter coats the crêpe pan for cooking. Ooh, la, la, that's heavy!
I found a way to put my crêpes on a slim-down and fiber up plan.   
For the wet ingredients, instead of using whole eggs and additional egg yolks, I used egg substitute and instead of cream or whole milk, I swapped in non-fat milk.  When it came to the dry ingredients, I increased the fiber by using buckwheat flour along with all-purpose flour.  By using buckwheat flour, I was able to incorporate the flavor of the traditional crêpes made in the Brittany region of France. There, crêpes are called galettes, and they're often served with cider.
Nonstick cooking spray worked great to prepare the pan for the batter--who needs butter? Not in this recipe!
And by the way, you really don't need to purchase a fancy crêpe pan.  I use my omelet pan,  which is just a 6-inch non-stick pan, for making my crêpes. If you don't have an omelet pan, you can use any flat non-stick pan. I found a copper crêpe pan online that sells for $290!  For that much money it should produce the best crêpe in the world--I doubt it. Save your money and put your omelet pan on overtime like I did.
To rest or not to rest, that is the question.
When it comes to crepe batter, cooks always ask whether it need to rest.
Give your batter a break and let it rest for 30 minutes up to overnight. (Note: If you're resting the batter for longer than an hour, cover it and put it in the fridge.)  Resting the batter is one thing that separates crepes from pancakes, in addition to the thinner batter.

Resting allows the protein in the flour (the gluten) to absorb the liquid in the batter and for air bubbles incorporated during mixing to dissipate, which will ensure a thin, lacy crepe.

(Note: Buckwheat flour is gluten-free, but even traditional recipes use a mixture of it and all-purpose flour. You could substitute whole-wheat or white whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose flour, but the texture will be heavier.)
Guidelines to perfect crêpes
  • Bring eggs and milk to room temperature before mixing.
  • Use a blender to mix the batter.  It will be ready in a snap.
  • Cover and allow batter to rest at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat and spray the pan before pouring the batter into the pan to cook.
  • You can keep the batter in the blender--it's easy to pour into the pan that way.
  • The batter will show you when it's ready to be flipped.  Bubbles will rise to the top and then pop, just like with pancakes.
  • If you can handle the heat, the best way to flip is actually with your finger tips.  Use a spatula to pull up an edge then grasp with fingertips and flip.  (Note: Don't burn yourself, and don't let kids do this! If you're in doubt, use a rubber spatula.)
  • Have parchment or wax paper ready to go, to slide between each crêpe as you remove them from the pan.
  • Crêpe batter doesn't freeze well, but crepes freeze beautifully.
  • If you plan on freezing extra crepes, make sure you cool the crepes completely before placing in the freezer.  Crêpes will freeze well for one month.  Thaw them on the countertop, then warm in a skillet or heat according to your recipe's directions.
Ready to give crepes a try? Check out my recipe for buckwheat crêpes.
For a quick dessert, heat the segments of half an orange in a small saucepan with the juice from the other half of the orange. Bring to a simmer, then pour the oranges and juice onto a cooked crepe. Fold into quarters and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Want to make a super fancy but easy savory dish? Try my crab and asparagus crêpe recipe.

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Crepes are so good! Report
USMAWIFE 4/4/2020
thank you Report
you'd think pancakes and crepes are the same thing Report
Pancakes and crepes are related Report
Great article! Thanks! Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
My brain read this as "meat crepes", so now I want to wrap meat around things. Report
I made these last week, had the asparagus and crab , delious. Then strawberries and orange sauce. I froze some for later, but have already used them up. Spread with Nutella and fold up and eat as a snack. There are so many ways to use them. Report
mmmm, thanks for this suggestion Report
I had a crepe pan from Ron Poleil (remember him? He had the first Infomercials, back in the Bronze Age!) that I used all the time. Then a neighbor borrowed it and put it in the dishwasher, ruining the finish. I've used my omelet pan ever since. Sometimes you can find already made crepes in the produce department with the fresh fruit, but I'm sure they are much higher in fats and calories than Meg's. They really are a snap to make and so very impressive. Definitely give these a try. Report
I enjoyed reading, because it reminded me of my Dad who I miss so much. He was a great cook and his crepes were the best with fresh fruit and powered sugar. I look forward making the crab and asparagus crepes. Yum! Report
I've always known these as pancakes (I guess crepe is a posh term). Lemon juice and low cal sugar is a house fav here. Never had them as a savory, always a dessert. If we want them as savory we put the batter in the oven and have yorkshire puddings. :-) Report
Well, I'm done eating for the day but these suggestions are waking my appetite! We have crepes at home for dinner or desert. I love them! I will definitely try the low-cal-low-fat version Chef Meg is suggesting. Thank you and Bon Appétit! Report
I didn't know to let the batter rest either. It would be nice to pull the batter out of the fridge in the morning and have a nice crepe breakfast. I'm always looking for new breakfast ideas for my family, but never considered crepes because they're time consuming. This would help a lot. Plus, late risers could still have fresh crepes. Thanks for the tip! Report
I love crepes. I'm going to have to give this recipe a try. Report
I grew up with the thin kind and have tried the thick pancakes a few times; the latter are awful in comparison, sorry :) Report
I love creeps. Report
ooh la la! Report
Thank you. I can hardly wait to try them Report
Crepes... right up my alley! I love them! I recently ordered the chicken/spinach savory crepes at IHOP and they were delish! I would order them again. Report
Ooh, I love crepes but I have never made them! I will have to try this healthier version. Thank you! Report
Crepes with chicken filling. YUM! Remembrance of days passed joyfully in Prague. Report
I loed making crepes years ago. I had a cute little pan, not an expensive purchase, that I used. The crepes were cooked on the bottom of the pan. I did not have to flip them. Unfortunately, I don't have the pan anymore. The filling went on the unflipped side. I used to make them and freexe them for later use. they really make an elegant dessert or savory dish. I will make them again Report
Thank you for the tip in letting the batter rest. I never thought to let it rest but I do notice my first few crepes from the batter always seem to be thicker. Report
I ::heart:: crepes, I will definitely use these tips! (And stuff them with greek yogurt + strawberries - YUM!) Report
I'm looking forward to making these - buckwheat and asparagus are a great early spring treat. Report