Happy Chandeleur, it’s crepes time!

Today, I am not going to speak about wool, yarn or knitting. I hope you won’t hold me grief for that. Instead, I wanted to share with you one of the French traditions. I mentioned it in this post last week: today is crêpes day! So I made some, and wanted to share them with you too (well, at least, the recipe!).

In France, la Chandeleur (“Candlemas”) is a pagan tradition, linked to light, although it also corresponds to a Christian holiday. For me and as far as I can remember, la chandeleur has always been the “day of the crêpes”. Celebrated on 2nd February, it is a popular tradition of making and eating crêpes. A common belief, is that one has to flip the crêpe (making it “jump” in the air) while holding a gold coin (some also say a Louis d’or, a gold coin first introduced by Louis XIII in 1640), in order to assure prosperity for the family throughout the year. In case you wonder, I had already my hands full with managing two pans of crêpes, and a hungry toddler… so no, I didn’t flip a crêpe while holding a gold coin. And no, I don’t even know where I could get hold of a gold coin! Bad luck for our prosperity then for 2013… Luckily I’m not superstitious.

Juggling with two pans. Sweet crepe on the left, savoury crepe on the right.

Juggling with two pans. Sweet crepe on the left, savoury crepe on the right.

Anyhow, I made my crêpes before dinner, and we had a very nice family meal tonight. To be honest, it is definitely not the kind of “meal” that should be eaten often, as there are very few fruits or vegetables involved, if you see what I mean… As a matter of fact, I made two kinds of crêpes: some “sweet” ones and some “savoury” ones. We ate the savoury ones as the main meal, and a few sweet crêpes for dessert. Yummy! And, bonus: there are a few left for breakfast tomorrow!

The “usual” ones are made out of white flour, eggs and milk. You will find a multitude of different recipes: some people add a little bit of (sunflower) oil, some add rum, or sugar, or orange blossom water, etc. The possibilities are pretty much endless. But I prefer to make mine as simple as possible, and then add whatever flavour I like on top of them. As a result, there is no clash of flavour if, say, I had added orange blossom water to the batter, and decide to spread the crêpe with some pureed fruits or jam… So, if you please, I am happy to share with you my “naked” recipe for crêpes:

For 4-6 people (-ish):
–          500 g white flour
–          6 eggs
–          Approximately 1-1.5 L milk (2-3 pints). Amount varies depending on quality / type of flour, size of eggs, how long the batter rests, and how long it takes you to make all the crêpes (it is not unusual to add some milk as one goes through the pile of crêpes to cook, because the batter tends to thicken with time).

You will also need a pan. The size of the pan does not really matter; it is important though that the pan be slick. Also a flatter pan makes it easier to flip the crêpes, but that’s not mandatory. You can also “cheat” and use a flat utensil to flip the crêpes instead of flipping them in the air.

Sweet "naked" crepes

Sweet “naked” crêpes

In a large bowl, put the flour, and the eggs. While mixing everything together with a whisk, pour the milk little by little. Make sure you get rid of all lumps, and continue diluting with milk until the batter is rather liquid. The more liquid, the thinner the crêpes! Heat up your pan. You may want to grease it very slightly with some oil, applied with a cloth for instance. When the pan is really hot: using a ladle, pour a little bit of batter (half a ladle?) in the centre of the pan while making it rotate to spread the batter evenly all over in a thin layer. Remember that the first crêpe is usually not a pretty one, because the pan is not at the right temperature in general (but it’s just as good, so just eat it! it also gives a good excuse to have a taste before everyone else). Once the bottom is cooked (the sides start to become a little brown), flip the crêpe over so it cooks on the other side, then put the crepe on a plate. To avoid it to dry, I tend to cover the cooked crêpes with another plate (upside down), to keep the moisture there. Make as many crêpes as your stock of batter allows.

Sweet crêpes with crème de marron

Sweet crêpes with crème de marron

To eat them, I recommend using your favourite jam (spread in a more or less thin layer), pureed fruits, or simply sugar or honey. To indulge yourself, I recommend putting a crêpe back in the pan (add a little bit of butter under it so it does not stick to the pan), placing on top a few squares of your favourite dark chocolate, when the chocolate starts melting, cut half a banana on top, fold the crêpe on itself, and let the chocolate melt some more. Eat warm!

And because I have a (very) sweet tooth, I also love my crêpes with some crème de marron (chestnut spread). The only one I trust (the best one in my opinion) comes from the Ardèche region in France, and I’d like to thank my mum for making sure I never run out!

In short, just let your imagination go wild, and eat your crêpe with whatever you fancy!

Galettes de "blé noir"

Galettes de “blé noir”

I mentioned two kinds of crêpes… and all these refer to the recipe above. So you may wonder what the second kind is like. Well, it is not made with standard flour to start with. It is a speciality of the Brittany region in France and the crêpes are not called crêpes, but galettes. The flour used is called “blé noir” (which would translate as “black wheat”, but it’s not wheat!): it is sarrasin (buckwheat). Again, there are lots of recipes to make the galettes. I won’t share with you the one I used tonight, because I am still not 100% happy with it. I have made improvements to it, but I think there is still a lot of room for improvement. Once the galettes are made, they are re-placed in the pan, and there too, let your imagination go wild! I like the simplicity of the traditional “egg-cheese-ham” galette: break an egg on the galette, and break it/spread it with a fork; while it cooks, spread some grated cheese, add a couple slices of ham, salt and pepper. Once the egg is mostly cooked, fold in half and let it continue to cook a little… Eat straight away! Yummy! Of course, you can add lettuce and tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or go for something totally different.

Right, I think I have been talking about food for long enough… At this point, either I scared you, or I made you very hungry. In both cases, I am really sorry. For those of you I didn’t scare with all this food-talk, please let me know if/when you try making crêpes, tell me what you think! And of course, feel free to ask questions if you have any!

And next time, I promise, there will be less talk, and more knitting. Well… more knitting, for sure!

Happy Chandeleur everyone, happy crêpes!

This entry was posted in Cooking, crepes, France, French Traditions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Happy Chandeleur, it’s crepes time!

  1. Janice says:

    Yummy! x

  2. Crepes Day! Definitely a holiday worth celebrating! Not that Candlemas isn’t a good holiday, too..

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