“Crêpe” is the French word to describe what can be seen as the European version of a pancake. You can see a “Crêpe” as a larger pancake, the size of a plate, but it is actually much more thinner.
A little history about a special French day tradition when we cook crêpes:
In France, February 2nd is a special day called Candlemas Day (La Chandeleur). It is not an official holiday, but more a moment when family, friends gather to enjoy eating “crêpes”.
But why eat “crêpes” for a day which is supposed to be the feast of candles? The answer can be seen as the result of two traditions that have evolved, mixed together throughout the years. The name Candlemas Day finds its roots in the Catholic religion. February 2nd is seen by the Catholic Church and according to the Bible as:
• The day where Jesus Christ was presented in a temple to an old man called Simeon and recognized as the one who comes to be the light of all the nations.
• It is also the feast of the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At that time, women were believed to be impure for six weeks after giving birth.
Both events were celebrated during the Middle Age with a long procession of candles called the “feast of candles”.
The custom of eating “crêpes” finds its roots in the ancient beliefs of Celts (ancestors of the French, living at the time of the Romans). The “crêpe” seems to have been the symbol of the Sun. For centuries, farmers have believed that not cooking these “crêpes” would bring bad luck and illness to their wheat fields.
I don’t really have in mind the religious day or the ancient Celts’ belief every 2nd of February. However, my family try to follow another custom. It is said that flipping the first crêpe in the air, and catching it correctly in the pan, while holding a gold coin in the left hand, brings luck and prosperity to the family for a year. I don’t know if this is really true, but it is still worth a try.
In France, you can find two type of crêpes: sweet or salted.
Today I am going to give you the salted recipe version, which uses the buckweat flour. This type of crêpe originates from the region of Brittany in France. The batter is traditionally cooked on a crêpe maker (flat circular hot plate). It is spread on a disc using a rozell (a small wooden rake). I don’t have a crêpe maker and use a 12-inch non-stick pan.
Buckwheat crêpes are often filled with sausage, meat (ham), fish (salmon), vegetables (mushrooms, spinach…), cheese, eggs, etc… One of the most common combination is grated cheese,a slice of ham, and an egg, cooked directly on the crêpe. It is called a “complete” galette (see my Buckwheat Crêpe Complète: Ham, Cheese, Fried Egg post).
For the recipe, I usually use buckwheat flour imported from France. When I run out, I buy buckwheat flour at our local Farmer Market (see picture below). For me, the taste of this flour is similar to what I buy in France. I tried other brands such as Bob Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills, but find the taste too strong and the batter color seems to be more grey than brown. If you only have access to one of these brands, I recommend you use less buckwheat flour and more white flour to balance the flavor.
- 250 g (2 cups) Buckwheat flour
- 2 tsp white flour
- ¼ tsp of salt
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp oil
- 500 ml water
- In a bowl, mix the flours, salt, and pepper.
- Add the egg, oil, and gradually add water, mixing very well until the batter has the consistency of heavy whipped cream.
- Let the batter rest for at least one hour . If the batter is too thick, add more water.
- Heat over medium a non-stick pan (12 inches), put some oil and use a paper towel to grease the pan in a thin coat. Pour a ladle of batter into the pan while swirling it to distribute the batter evenly (this is an important trick!). If you don't cover the pan with the batter, just add more batter to patch the holes. Don't forget, the crêpes must be very thin!
- Cook until the edges start to come out from the pan and are light golden brown.
- Flip the crêpe with the spatula and cook for 30 seconds.
- Put the crêpe on a plate and do the next one. Stack them on the plate.