A couple posts ago, I'd mentioned one weekend where I went totally nutballs and tried THREE kitchen techniques which had either stymied me or that I was afraid of trying because the recipe was too difficult or involved or complicated or whatever other excuse I could come up with to keep from growing culinarily. I first posted about my success, at long last, poaching eggs. Today I'll share my fascination with earthy buckwheat crêpes and soon, I'll include the seafood paella.
This recipe comes from the glorious cookbook; Buvette: The Pleasures of Good Food, authored by Jody Williams, head chef and owner of Buvette in New York City. Jody has been around the block, and was most definitely around when, as Mario Batali suggests in his introduction, "food had become a thing, and restaurants had become more than a place to eat." Heading to Italy in search of the flavors and traditions of Italian and French cuisine, she returned to the states and opened a joint venture with Joe and Lidia Bastianich before branching out on her own to open Buvette.
It's no secret I love a good cookbook, one in which I can understand and recreate the recipes because they just work, but also cookbooks that bring to life the story behind the chef or cook who has written it. Jody's recipes are simple and easy to follow, and with each turn of the page, you're experiencing her time in Italy with her all over again. So, yes, I'm plugging this book because it's for sure a keeper.
I'm not sure why, but I've always felt guilty about wanting a crêpe. Perhaps the decadence I associate with them - I'd eat a pile of pancakes without blinking an eye (more maple syrup, please and that better be real butter!) but for some reason, one single, gossamer-thin crêpe filled with fresh berries and a dollop of freshly whipped creme (and possibly a dusting of powdered sugar) made me feel incredibly ... naughty, for some reason.
My mother adored crêpes but she saved them for one single occasion: breakfast on Christmas morning. It was a tradition - mom made the batter and gathered up the fillings, and dad poured the thin crêpe batter into the special non-stick skillet we used only for this occasion, flipping them deftly and keeping them warm under a dish towel. Mom's regulation of keeping it a once-a-year event may have kept me from trying them out on my own, on a regular-ol' Saturday morning, if not for Jody's cookbook which reminded me I hadn't had a crêpe in years.
But I couldn't make crêpes. I was never allowed to make the batter, and lord knows I wasn't to mess about with that non-stick skillet. What if I gave this simplistic recipe a go and failed miserably? "Cheese and rice, you can always make yourself an egg sandwich, Roth, suck it up already!" I talk to myself a lot. The dogs are used to it.
So here is Jody's recipe for Buckwheat Crêpes. If you'd like crêpes sans the buckwheat flour, just simply use a full 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour instead. I personally like the earthiness of the buckwheat and it also gives the crêpes slightly more heft, in my opinion.
Please note that you should let your batter rest for at least four hours or up to three days - so plan this in advance. What's the point of all that resting? It allows the protein activated by combining liquid with the gluten in the flour to "calm down". This makes for a more relaxed mixture, a more cooperative mixture, a batter that's easier to work with (because face it, crêpes are scary), and ultimately, a more beautiful crêpe.
Breton Galette / Buckwheat Crêpes
Recipe courtesy of Jody Williams, from the cookbook, Buvette
Makes 10-12 crêpes, depending on the size of your pan
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch course salt
2 large eggs
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for cooking the crêpes
1 1/4 cups whole milk
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and eggs to make a paste. Whisk in the butter. Slowly whisk in the milk, being sure to take your time so that you avoid lumps. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or transfer the butter to an airtight container and refrigerate four hours or up to 3 days before cooking.
Once the batter has rested, heat up a slick of butter in a small skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. I absolutely love my De Buyer crêpe pan. It's made of carbon steel and it has a very low "skirt" which makes it ideal for flipping the crêpes. These pans must be seasoned first to obtain that non-stick coating, but they're my favorite pans to work with. A regular non-stick pan will work just fine. Just be sure to use an ample amount of butter. Pour in just a little less than a 1/4-cup of batter, tilting the pan in a circular motion so the batter finds itself in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. I found it helpful to lift the pan off the heat source when doing this. You may need to adjust how much batter you use as well. For my crêpe pan, I actually found just under 1/3 cup worked better (which meant I ended up with 8 crêpes instead of the 10-12). You'll find what works best for you based on the size of your pan. Cook the crêpe until the bottom is just golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes, loosen the edges with a spatula, and turn the crepe.
Watch your crêpe - it will tell you when it's ready to turn. Lift up on the edges - does it look like it will come away from the pan in one piece when flipped quickly? If so, then go for it! If your crêpe falls apart, it wasn't ready to turn, or you may be taking a bit too long on the "flip". Try to do it quickly if you can.
Cook for about 1 minute more on the opposite side and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until you've used up all the batter.
Some filling ideas:
Sweet crêpes are often filled with fresh fruits, jams, curds (I filled some with fresh meyer lemon curd and dusted it with powdered sugar) and yummy spreads like Nutella. You can roll them, fold them or stack them. The possibilities are endless.
For savory crepes, try layering the fresh crêpes with a good quality ham and Gruyere cheese ... you get the idea.
The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!