Today is “Chandeleur day” in France. This is an important day: the day of pancakes! Every mum prepares crêpes (French pancakes) served generally at 5PM for the kid afternoon break. Today French supermarkets will certainly make an hit with eggs, milk and flour, the key ingredients of French crêpes. We generally serve them with sugar or generously filled with jam, Nutella (hazelnut and cocoa sweet spread) or sweet chestnut cream. We can also top them with whipped cream. Here you have all the reasons why people, and particularly kids, expect with enthusiasm that day! ?
Do you know Chandeleur? It is an old French tradition coming from ages: originally it was a Roman festive day organized on mid-february to celebrate the lengthening of days. Celts celebrated Imbolc on February 1rst in honor of the goddess Brigit. Farmers carried torches in the fields and pried the goddess for fertility and purification of the lands after the end of winter. In 472 it was transformed into the celebration of the “presentation of Jesus in the temple”, precisely 40 days after Christmas on Febrary, 2. In the churches, the torches were substituted by holy candles whose light is supposed to drive evil away and remember that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. After the ceremony, christians brought the candles into their home for protection.
So why crêpes? What the link between Jesus, fertility celebration and the crêpes? Here comes the explanation: the crêpes (French pancakes) have a round shape and their golden colour remembers the sun, coming back after the darkness of winter. Moreover, beginning of February corresponds with the beginning of seeding. The excess of seeds was used to prepare crêpes which were a symbol of prosperity for the coming year.
We French have totally forgotten all of this (thank you wikipedia for remembering me ?) but we never never forget to prepare crêpes that day!
Genuine French pancakes recipe
- Preparation: 5 minutes
- Rest (optional): 1 hour
- Cooking: 2 minutes each crêpe (about 30 minutes for a dozen)
- 1 cup (250g) wheat flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Butter or neutral oil for cooking
- Beat the eggs into a bowl
- Pour the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add a pinch of salt and the eggs. Mix together.
- Add 1/5 of the milk. Mix well. Add another 1/5, mix. Keep adding and mixing progressively the milk into the flour. Tip: if you use warm milk, it will be easier to avoid the lumps
- Warm the butter in a micro-wave or in a saucepan at very low heat. The butter should be liquid but not cooked
- Add the butter to the preparation and combine together
- The crêpe batter should be smooth and fluid
- If you have one hour, it’s better to leave the preparation (covered) in the fridge for one hour. The result will be better. Mix again the preparation and add eventually milk if the preparation is too thick
- Warm butter or neutral oil in one pan on medium fire heat. Ideally, use a brush or a paper towel. The pan should be just oily (avoid to have to much butter or oil in the pan…). The pan should be as flat as possible.
- When the pan is hot, pour one ladle of the preparation into the pan. Shake softly the pan: the preparation should cover all the surface of the pan and be as thin as possible.
- When the surface of the pancake becomes dry (cooked), turn over (try to toss it if you want, I never do it, it’s always a disaster!) and cook the other side. Personally I prefer when it’s almost crispy, my husband prefers when it’s still smooth… try and adopt your best cooking strategy!
- Lay the pancake on a plate.
- Process similarly for all the pancakes. Superpose the French crêpes on the plate. They will remain warm.
- Serve warm and propose a choice of fillings (see below). Everyone will fill his own pancake.
- In France, we use to eat them rolled or folded into 4
Suggestions of fillings
Caster sugar, jam, chestnut cream and cream, Nutella (my kids and husband favorite!), chocolate sauce, banana slices with Nutella or chocolate sauce, whipped cream, caramel sauce, etc…
You can add to the Pancake dough either 1 tablespoon of liquor (Rum, Kirsch, Grand Marnier, Cognac, Calvados, Pastis, Cointreau) or lemon zest or orange zest or vanilla and/or 2 oz (60g) sugar
Famous French crêpes for tea time
Butter and sugar crêpes
When you turn over the French pancake in the pan, drop immediately on it one to two teaspoons of salted butter and one tablespoon caster sugar. Leave on heat till the butter becomes liquid and sugar starts to caramelize. Fold in four. Serve immediately.
Butter and lemon crêpes
Same as butter and sugar crêpes but add a dash of lemon juice
Four options of crêpes served as a dessert during a dinner
Crêpe is not only an option for tea time but also a tasty dessert.
This recipe is the healthy version. If you prefer the standard one, just keep the same pancake dough (with whole milk and butter) and replace honey by sugar (quantity of your choice)!
Crêpes with a scoop of ice cream
- Just add a scoop of ice cream of your choice and whipped cream to one crêpe
Crêpes “Mont-Blanc” (with chestnut cream)
Add 1 tablespoon Rhum to the pancake dough
Ingredients for the filling
- 14 oz (400g) whipped cream
- 7 oz (200g) chestnut cream
- Line a small bowl with a crêpe
- Fill it with a tablespoon of chestnut cream and whipped cream
- Close the crêpe with a ribbon or a wood stick. Each crêpe forms a little bag
- Present it on a dessert plate. You can add toppings of your choice to decorate
That recipe is not particularly easy because you need to flame alcohol on the crêpe when serving. An easier alternative would be to remove that flaming part and replace it by pouring same quantity of Grand Marneri in the dough before cooking…
Ingredients to fill a dozen of crêpes
- 5.29 oz (150g) unsalted butter
- 5.29 oz (150g) icing sugar
- 1 orange zest
- 3 tablespoon Grand Marnier (French orange alcohol) (for the filling)
- 7 tablespoons (10 cl) Grand Marnier (for burning)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Add to the crêpe dough half of the orange zest. Cook them
- Combine together the icing sugar, the Grand Marnier, the remaining orange zest and the butter.
- Spread that mixture thinly on the crêpes and fold them into four
- Put them in a oven-proof dish and warm in oven for about 10 minutes (low heat)
- Warm the Grand Marnier
- When serving, pour a little bit of sugar on each crêpes and Grand Marnier and flame it (be careful!)