Crepes, one of the wrappers featured in today's Page 1 story, are actually very thin pancakes. They aren't difficult to make, but the cooking technique does take some practice.
For the traditional method of making crepe batter, a wire whisk is used to blend the egg whites and yolks, then beat in the water, milk, salt and oil. Add to the flour gradually, beating to keep the batter smooth; strain if there are any lumps. Crepe batter may also be prepared with an electric mixer, blender or food processor.
Cover and refrigerate the batter at least an hour, allowing the flour to absorb the liquid, expand and soften. This step ensures the cooked crepes will be light and tender.
Although there are pans made especially for preparing crepes, you may also use a small skillet or omelet pan with a flat bottom 5 1/2 to seven inches in diameter. Place the pan over moderately high heat and brush lightly with melted butter or oil. One source we checked suggested placing a piece of raw potato on the end of a fork, dipping it in melted butter and then rubbing it over the bottom of the pan.
Stir the crepe batter well before using. Then pour about three tablespoons batter into the center of the pan (Step 1). With the other hand, quickly tilt the pan so the batter runs evenly over the bottom of the pan (Step 2). It should form a thin, even coating and almost immediately begin to form tiny bubbles.
Set the pan directly on the burner and cook about 30 seconds, or until the underside is lightly browned. Run the tip of a knife or metal spatula around the edge to loosen the crepe.
The traditional way of turning a crepe is to flip it into the air by pulling the pan sharply toward you and up. Those less adventuresome, however, can turn it with the assistance of a metal spatula and their fingers (Step 3). Cook 15 to 20 seconds to brown the crepe on the second side. (This side will only brown in spots and should be used as the inside of the filled crepe.)
Place cooked crepes in a single layer on wax paper or parchment. Do not stack crepes until they are completely cool.
Often the first crepe will not turn out that well because the pan is either too hot or not hot enough. It takes a little adjustment of the heat and practice at tilting the pan to distribute the batter. As the batter stands, it may need to be thinned with a few drops of water.
Crepes may be prepared ahead, covered well and refrigerated up to two days; or freeze up to two months. To thaw frozen crepes, place in a covered dish and heat at 300 degrees about 10 minutes, until warmed through enough to separate easily. Then fill as desired--we used sour cream and strawberries (Step 4)--or according to recipe directions.
The following basic recipe is from "Cooking A to Z" (Ortho Books: 1988, $32.95).
1 cup flour
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine flour, water, milk, eggs, oil and salt in blender or food processor. Process until batter is smooth, stopping motor once or twice to scrape flour from sides of container.
Cover and refrigerate batter at least 1 hour. Blend batter well before making crepes. Makes 16 to 20 crepes.
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