Friday, August 26, 2005

Holy crepe!

Crepes are one of those dishes that seem harder than they are. They're so thin and fragile looking that it's easy to imagine only the most competent of home cooks should even attempt to make them.

Well, that's just plain wrong. If I can make them, I'm sure anyone can. I like to think of myself as a "better-than-average" cook, but I certainly didn't graduate (or even attend, for that matter) Le Cordon Bleu.

A few words of wisdom should help you whip these babies up in no time flat. For starters, though you can use a whisk to combine all the ingredients in a bowl, it's far easier to just use a food processor or blender. Once you've made the batter, let the batter sit for a bit. And instead of sitting around, twiddling your thumbs while the 20 minutes tick away, start heating up your skillet--it's important that it's up to temperature before you add your first crepe, otherwise it'll be a wasted, soggy mess.

My most important piece of advice? That would be to try one (or two or three) of these wondrous creations topped with some Nutella (or other cocoa-hazelnut spread) and some chopped, roasted hazelnuts. Fruit and other toppings (including dulce de leche) are more than fine, but there's nothing more mouth-watering than a crepe filled with Nutella!

Enough of my blathering. On to the recipe!

4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
1 1/3 cup milk
1 1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pour all of the above ingredients into a blender or food processor and "blitz" (as Nigella Lawson loves to say) until smooth. This shouldn't take more than a few seconds, so make sure you don't walk away!

Let the batter sit for 20 minutes. Near the end of that time, start heating up your skillet. Make sure the skillet is well greased with oil or butter, especially if the one you're using isn't non-stick, as the crepes have a tendency to cling to the pan.

When the batter has set for 20 minutes and the skillet's up to temperature, pour a ladle-full of batter into the skillet and swish it around so that the batter coats the bottom of the pan. You'll likely use about a ½ cup of batter per crepe, though I like to buck tradition and make mine a little thicker.

Let the crepe sit until the edges become lacy and golden and the top seems dry (this should take 1-2 minutes). Use a spatula to loosen the edges of the crepe and then flip it over. Cook the second side for another 15-30 seconds and then slide it on to a plate to cool.

This recipe should make about 10 crepes in a 10-inch pan. If you're using an 8-inch pan or don't want to make so many crepes in a 10-inch pan, go ahead and cut the recipe in half.