This recipe is in my mom's (very distinctive) handwriting, which probably explains why it is the most clear and concise recipe I've made from the box so far. Also it's written on the back of a piece of stationery from the beauty supply store where she bought all of her hair products back when she was a hair stylist, which is... well, to be expected, I guess. Now, I think I need to explain how I feel about crepes before we start this recipe.
I lived in France for a year. I got married in France. I eat a Nutella crepe every time I see a stand in Edinburgh selling them. But I have never attempted to make them before finding this recipe, convinced they'd be too difficult for me to handle.
Plus, I don't have one of those wooden squeegee things that the creperies in Paris use to make sure each super-thin pancake is perfectly round and of perfect, uniform thickness. Luckily for me, it turns out you don't need a wooden squeegee or a degree from Le Cordon Bleu. What tempted me out of crepe-related timidity? Pancake Day.
I had never heard of Pancake Day before this year (how did I miss this last year?), but it's basically just Mardi Gras. Pancake Day celebrates the last day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and a season of major self-sacrifice, if you're into that sort of thing.
As an incredibly devout Catholic, Eleanor was really into Lent. I don't know the kinds of things she'd give up, but my mom still talks about Fish Fridays when she was growing up, and in a box of family photos I went through to make this site, I found at least a half dozen Catholic funeral cards and a card for the “patron saint of traffic” that Eleanor carried in her wallet. Proof positive she would've been into Pancake Day, if only they celebrated it in mid-twentieth century central Florida.
So how are these two things linked, you may be asking? Well... in Britain (where celebration of Pancake Day is so widespread that grocery store signs boast of stocking “ALL YOUR PANCAKE DAY NEEDS”), Pancake Day is a big deal and pancakes here are actually crepes. So I figured Pancake Day was as good a time as any to debut this recipe.
Oh, also: maple syrup pretty much doesn't exist here in Scotland-- if you find it, it'll be in a specialty grocer and it costs more than my monthly cell phone bill. Plus, you don't eat maple syrup on crepes. But since this entire project is focused on blending Eleanor's life with mine, I figured I'd serve the crepes the way that people eat them here: with lemon and sugar.
If there is a way that the whole “lemon and sugar” thing is supposed to be done, please don't tell me. We just squeezed lemon halves over our crepes and then sprinkled a spoonful of white sugar over them. As far as I was concerned, this was a far inferior substitute for Nutella (though delicious in its own right, I'll grudgingly admit), but Judson, whose tastes, inexplicably, do not run toward chocolate hazelnut spreads, loved it.
Anyway, the crepes were amazing! I conquered my crepe fear! I want to make nothing but crepes for the rest of time! People will be so impressed with my breakfast skills! I'll have to set up a waiting list for next year's Pancake Day because guests will be coming from far and wide to taste my crepes! Half-credit goes to my mom, for writing an incredibly specific and clear recipe, and 25% credit goes to Judson, who took all the pictures so I could focus on spreading the batter in the pan.
Some important crepe notes:
The recipe says to use an iron skillet, and while I'm sure that would make it more legit, it would also make them (probably) far more likely to stick. If you're as inexperienced as I am, use a non-stick pan, preferably in the exact size that you want your crepes to be.
Don't skimp on the butter! Make sure you brush a little melted butter into the pan before every crepe. It turns out the butter in the pan is what gives crepes that really beautiful marbled texture. We tried with and without (when I forgot it), and if you skip the butter the crepes just look like pancakes (BORING!).
We got exactly 8 crepes out of this recipe, and they were on the small-ish side (because that is the size of our pan). If you're feeding more than 2 people, I would scale the recipe up.
I used a small gravy ladle, filled ¾ full for each crepe. When you pour the batter into the pan, pour it directly into the center of the pan, then IMMEDIATELY swirl the pan to spread the batter. You want the last few drops of batter to cover the last remaining bit of your pan-- it shouldn't be thick like a pancake.
We ate these for dinner because Pancake Day is a Tuesday, but they'd be great for either breakfast or a très chic dessert.
5 Spoons out of five! Try this soon and you'll be in awe of your own cooking skills. (Or don't try it and consult me about tickets to the Pancake Day breakfast I'm already planning for 2016). ;)
½ c unsifted all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled plus additional for brushing the pan
1 egg plus 1 yolk
¾ c milk
Garnish as desired with butter and sugar (Judson's favourite), Nutella (my favourite), apricot jam (if you're feeling French), lemon and sugar (if you're feeling British), or whatever else your heart desires.
In small bowl, combine flour, melted and cooled butter, egg and yolk.
Add milk gradually, mixing all the while until very smooth.
Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
Slowly heat a non-stick pan until a drop of water sizzles and rolls off.
Preheat oven to 300F/150C.
For each crepe, brush pan with lightly with butter.
Using a small ladle or something similar, pour about 2 tbsp batter into pan, rotating pan quickly to spread batter completely over bottom.
Cook until lightly browned, then flip with a spatula and brown on the other side.*
Turn out on wire rack or cookie sheet and keep warm in oven until all crepes are done.
Best eaten fresh, but stack with waxed paper between every two crepes if not eating for several hours.
*When bubbles start to form at the edges and the very rim of the crepe begins to pull away from the pan, it's ready to flip. This only takes 30-45 seconds per crepe, so keep an eye on things.
Makes about 8 crepes-- enough for 2 people as a meal, or more if being used as dessert.