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Crepe pancakes are extremely thin rounds of cooked batter which originated in the northwest region of France, where they were once a dietary staple among farm laborers. They may be eaten plain or folded around sweet or savory ingredients. Preparing crepe pancakes involves mixing a simple batter and then cooking a thin layer of this batter on a hot surface. Since their invention, crepe pancakes have attained popularity as both a street food and a restaurant dish in Europe and North America.
The region of Brittany, located in the northwest part of France, is generally credited with the invention of crepe pancakes. Here, these pancakes were once a dietary staple among the working class, largely because they could be prepared quickly and cheaply. Unlike the crepes known to many modern diners, however, the original crepes of Brittany were not made from refined white flour, but rather from the more affordable buckwheat flour. As of the early 21st century, crepe pancakes which are made from buckwheat flour are generally called galettes.
Perhaps the most notable difference between crepe pancakes and the pancakes most commonly associated with American breakfast cuisine is that the former are significantly thinner and lighter than the latter. Further, a crepe pancake generally has a neutral flavor, which means it pairs well with both sweet and savory fillings. Common sweet crepe fillings include hazelnut spread, bananas, jam, powdered sugar, and ice cream. Savory crepes are often filled with cheese, ham, eggs, mushrooms, or a mixture of these.
Those who wish to make crepe pancakes at home can do so by preparing a simple, thin batter of flour, eggs, milk, and salt. A small amount of this batter is poured onto a preheated frying pan and then quickly spread into a circular shape either by tilting the pan or using a spatula. The pancake is cooked for 30 seconds to one minute and then turned. Next, its surface is layered with the desired fillings. Then, it is tipped out of the pan onto a cutting board or plate and finally folded into quarters.
As of the early 21st century, crepe pancakes are popular in both Europe and North America as a quick snack, a dessert, or even a complete meal. Street vendors throughout France and many other European countries sell sweet and savory crepes from carts or small mobile kitchens. In North America, these pancakes are commonly filled with fruit preserves and served as a breakfast item.