May 25, 2008

Sunday Crepes

I've recently been addicted to Julia Child's Crepes Fines Sucrees, a recipe from the first volume of Mastering The Art of French Cooking.
Delicate, lacy and light, they are scrumptious rolled with fresh strawberries and creme fraiche. Sprinkled with sugar and a drop or two of lemon juice. Slathered with fig preserves and a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Layered with honey-orange butter. Or simply dusted with confectioner's sugar.

In the past, I've made crepes with milk, flour, sugar, eggs, butter and salt. My method of mixing has always involved a hand-held whisk and of course the quickest of resting times, 30 minutes.

Julia halves the milk and adds water, uses a modern day blender for the whisking and lets her batter rest for no less than 2 hours.

The result is a delicious, light and airy batter. A crepe suitable for breakfast, brunch or dessert. Rolled, stuffed, wrapped, pinched together into a little purse, flambeed, browned, gratineed or plain; enjoy these crepes with friends or for a lazy Sunday with your sweetie.

Crepes Fines Sucrees
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cookingby Julia Child & Friends

If you do not have an electric blender proceed as follows: Gradually work the egg yolks into the flour with a wooden spoon, beat in the liquids by droplets, then strain the batter through a fine sieve.

3/4 C milk
3/4 C cold water
3 egg yolks
1 T granulated sugar
3 T orange liqueur, rum or brandy (perfectly tasty without this addition)
1 cup flour
5 T melted butter

Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Method for Making Crepes

The first crepe is a trial one to test out the consistency of your batter, the exact amount you need for the pan, and the heat.

An iron skillet or a crepe pan
with a 6 1/2 to 7-inch bottom diameter

A bit of melted butter or oil and a pastry brush

Brush the skillet with the butter or oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke.

Immediately remove from heat and, holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film (Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl; judge the amount for your next crepe accordingly.) This whole operation takes but 2 or 3 seconds.

Return the pan to heat for 60-80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crepe is reading for turning.

Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan. As Julia would say, you must have the courage to flip them over.

Brown lightly for about 1/2 minute on the other side. This second side is rarely more than a spotty brown, and is always kept as the underneath or nonpublic aspect of the crepe. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate. Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and proceed with the rest of the crepes. Crepes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in a slow oven. Or they may be made several hours in advance and reheated when needed. (Crepes freeze perfectly.)

I have to warn you, if you are saving your crepes for later, make sure to put layers of parchment in between each crepe as they have a tendency to stick together into one large lump once they cool. OH, and we never worry about the "nonpublic aspect of the crepe."

ps. I made the recipe using all milk. YIKES, the mixture was way too I thinned it out with water and the crepes were stiff and diluted in taste.

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