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Crepes are thin pancakes which are a popular part of traditional French cuisine. In France, crepes are usually rolled up around a savory filling and served as a snack, but they can also be served with sweet fillings if desired. While many people associate crepes with gourmet cooking and think that it is hard to make crepes, this dish is actually a cinch to make, and it can be a big hit.
A basic crepe batter recipe starts with beating four eggs, and whisking in a pinch of salt and two cups (256 grams) of flour. The mixture should be thick and lumpy at this stage. Once the ingredients are blended, two and a quarter cups (533 milliliters) of milk can slowly be poured in to make a smooth batter. Finally, one quarter cup (57 grams or half a stick) of melted and cooled butter should be whisked in, and the mixture should be allowed to rest.
This batter can be made up to a day ahead of time, and stored in the refrigerator. The ingredients may separate a little bit while the batter is resting, but they can quickly be whisked together to make a homogenous mixture. This crepe batter may seem a bit watery when compared to the pancake batters which some people may be used to, but watery is the goal, because the best crepes are very thin.
After the batter has rested for at least two hours, it's time to heat up a skillet or crepe pan, and add a thin layer of oil or butter. Getting the heat right can be tricky, as the goal is to have a heat which is high enough to cook the batter through, without burning the crepes. Usually a setting close to medium is appropriate, although this may require some adjustment. When the pan seems hot enough, sprinkle a few drops of water into it: if they sizzle and steam, it's time to cook crepes.
The batter should be ladled into the pan while the pan is swirled so that the batter coats it. As the crepe cooks in the pan, the top will start to bubble and firm up. Once the batter is firm all the way across the pan, the crepe can be flipped to cook the opposite side. Finished crepes can be stacked on a pan in a warm oven and held until the batch is done so that everyone can eat at once, or served immediately, depending on personal tastes.
Flipping crepes can be difficult. Some people develop a practiced method which involves jerking the pan to loosen the crepe and flip it, but it's easy to make a mess doing this. It is perfectly acceptable to use a spatula to gently loosen and flip the crepe. Cooks should also be aware that even professionals mess up a few crepes, especially the first one, so if the first crepe out of the pan looks like a total mess, this is not a cause for concern.
Some ideas for crepe fillings include: fresh fruit and cream, chocolate spreads, peanut butter, roasted vegetables, pate, roast meats, grated cheese, creamy seafood, green salads, and applesauce.
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