Buckwheat Crepe Recipe

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked the age-old question: “How did you start cooking?”

My usual wise-guy answer?
“Well, I turned on the stove and put a pan on it.”

In reality, I probably should acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Anna Maria Albergetti who got me on this whole obsessive measuring-thing, hawking those carefully delineated bottles for mixing up Good Seasons salad dressing. But I also think some of it began at our local mall, at The Magic Pan, one of those crêperies that popped up everywhere in the 70′s. In the dining room, women in puffy-sleeved dresses stood over a open-flamed, circular crepe-cooker, presiding over a bevy of hot skillets that turned slowly over the flames, frying crêpes as fast as they could.

Wanting to be just like the girls at the mall, minus the puffy-sleeved dresses (which would come later in life), I bought one of those worthless numbers; a Taylor and Ng crêpe pan with a rounded bottom where you dipped the underside of the hot pan in a big bowl of batter, praying it didn’t stick before you could lift it up and flip it over to continue.

And apologies to my family for all those crêpe-filling experiments, especially the chicken in cream sauce, which, in my impatience, I madly kept adding spoonfuls of flour to until it thickened—which I presumed should take all of about 20 seconds.

The result?


Well, let’s just say 30 some-odd years later, I think I’m still digesting it.

And since I’ve been thinking about the topic of globalization and various things to digest, I thought it would be the perfect time to whip up a batch of crêpes, which are one of the best things ever to cross the Atlantic. And I think no matter where you live on the planet, few folks would refuse a nice hot crêpe, right off the skillet.

Crêpe-making may seem tricky at first, but if those teenage girls at the mall could master them, so can you. The first will usually be a dud, but don’t be discouraged. Just keep going. One you find your rhythm, you’ll find it’s quite a pleasurable activity.

And speaking of good things that cross the ocean, when my absolute favorite Food Network personality Paula Deen visited Paris, she stopped at my local crêpe-maker, Leticia, who stands at the Richard Lenoir market making crepes and galettes all morning for hungry shoppers. (In France, a buckwheat crêpe is not called a crepe, but a galette.)

If I mentioned to Leticia a recipe, she would surely ask, “Who uses a recipe?” (…except she would reply in French, of course) since she’s such a whiz at making them and just mixes up the ingredients until she gets it right. And she doesn’t even wear puffy-sleeved dresses to do it.

But for the rest of you across the planet, here’s the recipe that I use.

buckwheatcrepesstack.jpg

Buckwheat Crêpes

18-20 crêpes

It’s best to let the batter chill overnight, but let it come to room temperature prior to frying them up. And keep stirring the batter as you go while frying since the flour tends to sink to the bottom.

  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons (80 gr) butter, salted or unsalted, melted
  • 1/2 cup (70 gr) buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup (105 gr) all-purpose flour (In France, I use type 65)
  • 3 large eggs

In a blender, or with a whisk, mix together all the ingredients until smooth. Cover and chill overnight.

To fry the crêpes, remove the batter from the refrigerator about an hour before frying. Stir it briskly; it should be the consistency of heavy cream. (If not, you can add a tablespoon of milk.)

Heat a 8- to 9-inch skillet on the stovetop. You can use a real crêpe pan that’s been seasoned, but I use a Tefal non-stick skillet which works great.

Drop a tiny piece of butter or neutral oil in the hot pan and wipe it around with a paper towel. (I only do this for the first crêpe.)

Lift the pan and pour 1/4 cup of the batter in the middle of the hot skillet, swirling the pan to distribute the batter quickly and evenly. The pan shouldn’t be too hot or too cold: the batter should start cooking within a few seconds, giving you just enough time to swirl it. It may take a couple of crêpes for you to get your rhythm.

After about a minute, run a non-stick spatula around the underside of the rim of the crêpe, then flip the crepe over. I grasp the crepe with my fingers, but you’re not me (…consider yourself lucky!) and I’m not you. So use the spatula if you wish.

Let the crêpe cook on the flip side for about 30 seconds, then slide it out onto a dinner plate. Repeat, cooking the crepes with the remaining batter, stirring the batter every so often as you go.

Crêpes should be served warm. To rewarm the crêpes for serving, fold the crepes and put them in a baking dish covered with foil. Heat them in a moderate oven until warmed through.

Serving

I fried up a stack this morning and plan to serve them with a spoonful of ruby-red cherry compote and a scoop of melting homemade vanilla ice cream tonight. But feel free to be creative and use any fruits or sauces you wish. A smear of Nutella, your favorite jam or simply a drizzle of honey and a tab of butter is terrific folded inside. For savory crêpes, fold some grated cheese and maybe a piece of ham in the crêpe and warm in a non-stick or lightly-buttered skillet for a minute or so, flipping the crêpe midway though, until the cheese is melted.

Storage

Since this recipes makes 18-20 crêpes, it may be more than you need all at once. But if you’re going to stand over a hot stove, you may as well make extra and freeze them. Once cool, wrap securely in plastic film, then foil. They’ll keep in the freezer for a couple of months. You can also store them in the refrigerator for up to three days, well-wrapped.

Other posts on crêpe-making:

Jam Crepes from Heidi.

Deb’s crepe cake.

Clotilde’s crepes and galettes de sarrasin.

Shuna’s recipe for Whole Cherry Sauce appears in Edible San Francisco, along with my Olive Oil Ice Cream.

My two favorite creperies in Paris.

And The Magic Pan lives on!

33 comments

  • I use my iron skillet, as did my granny before me– same one! This is my comfort food. I don’t even know what others are talking about when they say that of macaroni and cheese, because that was merely what we had to eat every few Friday nights. Crepes R it.

    It was a frequent winter Sunday supper. Of all of them, my favorite is what my mum called “crepes simples”. Butter and brown sugar, then rolled up into a cigar. I have since dropped the butter. There are a couple of things right with roots half in Brittany. This is one of them. (That bag of stuffing in the pot au feu is definitely another!)

  • David,
    Here’s a great savory crepe filling: My Scallop Crepes

  • Yum! I just might have to make some crepes tonight!

  • Magic Pan memories…when it opened in Kansas City there was a crepe creating contest. I was lucky to get second place and take 50 of my closest friends to the grand opening. The recipe was very 70′s…Harvey Wallbanger crepes…a filling of vanilla pudding from a box flavored with galliano and orange peel. Someday I might try to re-create them the Slow Food way, with a creme anglais from scratch! And I too loved watching Paula in Paris. The wonder of a first-timer. Great!

  • F**k the crepes! We want to see photos of you in a dress!

  • ha! what a clever title :)

  • My favourite crepe stall is the one at Marche des Enfants Rouge. They also sell sandwiches and blinis. Organic flour and all that, a crepe sucre costs 2.20 euros but is the best version I’ve tried so far. The end result looks more like brandy snap than crepe, lots of crisp caramelised bits yet still soft with nice bite.

  • Adrian: If that’s what you want, I expect a dinner invite first. And a room afterwards.

    No make that a suite…

    Umami: I really like the Japanese stall there. I haven’t tried the crepes there (but I always say yes to crisp caramelized bits!), but there’s a good stand at near Montparnasse that’s about a big as a phone booth that only sells them right off the griddle.

    Mariann: My favorite was the ‘brick’ of ice cream folded in a crepe for dessert. And indeed, it was a big rectangular brick of vanilla ice cream! It was doused with chocolate sauce and probably an inhuman amount of whipped cream (which is why I probably liked it).

    I don’t remember any Harvey Wallbanger crepes, but from the sounds of it, I don’t think I missed anything—except a nasty hangover.

    I was surprised to see the Magic Pan still exists somewhere, and not just in our imaginations : )

  • The silly joke in the the beginning reminds me of an old journalist joke.

    Raw journalist to seasoned journalist: Hey! How do you end a story?

    Seasoned journalist: With a period, boy. With a period!

    Can’t go wrong with crepes. Too tasty for words.

    Cheers!

  • I went to the Magic Pan last week in Chicago! I didn’t know it was around in the 70s. I thought it was new so I’d try it out. I was disappointed and I actually wrote a post on my blog about it today. Yo might like it.

    http://chewonthatblog.com/?p=193
    It’ll be worth clicking on, trust me :)

  • I made a crepe cake for a family dinner last Christmas. Everyone was wowed, and, as a bonus, it was really delicious. It was definitely worth the time it took to make.

  • Oh yes I know about the phone book stand crepe place too in Montparnasse. ? rue Odessa. I am in that neighbourhood often because of French phonetics class and for afternoon tea it’s either crepes or pain au lait. The crepe there is excellent, especially if the young lady makes it.

  • Anna Maria Albergetti?!? My god, I haven’t thought of her in eons but I do remember well those Good Seasons commercials! But unlike you, I rebeled by always going over each mark just a little. I’ve always been like that…

  • hi dear, nice to see your web. you seems crepes professional. i am looking for Japanese style crepes recipe, do you know French style, American style of crepes are different from Japanese one. Japnese crepes are crispy. i tried a lot of recipe, but can’t reach to “crispy” and difficult to search out Japanese recipe. Can you help me somehow? thank you, appreciated it. thank you for your time. Vivien

  • Hi David,

    Do you think this recipe would work with all whole wheat flour? I’m trying to stay away from the “white foods” and would love to be able to eat crepes!

  • Danielle: I don’t know, but if you want to try one, perhaps try using one of the finer whole-wheat flours, like the pastry one. There’s also something called “white” whole-wheat flour, but I’ve not used it.

  • Hi David:
    A post-Magic pan suggestion in Chicago would be ‘La Creperie’ on Clark St.-when it first opened some 25+ years ago, it was a small cafe’ with the owner-cook stationed near the front in full view of the patrons making the crepes on large griddles. Now, the front cooking area is still there but uused as the cafe has grown with an expanded dining room and outdoor seating but still the same great bretone-style crepes. Another place overseas that I’ve enjoyed is the Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam at Prinsengracht 191. While they serve more ‘pancake’ types than very thin crepes, it is still delicious with pretty m,uch anything you want as a filling (although I lean more toward a light fruit filling).

  • Oh crêpes… i wasn’t satisfied with any crêpe (of course they were good, but you get what i mean) till i visited Paris last year. we went to Mont marte and i purchased a Crêpe avec Sucre et Citron. my world was changed after that (but then i had a Macaron… but that’s another story)

    i’ve made many a crêpe, but never was satisfied because it was a betty crocker recipe.. it’s embarrassing to even mention that. but i admit it. My french teacher in college sent me recipes, but lost them. and one was a buckwheat recipe. Thank you for posting this. its 1am and i’m thinking about whipping the batter up for lunch tomorrow!!!

    Merci beaucoup!!

  • Hi David,

    thank you for your recipe. I actually made this recipe gluten free. I have celiac and I like to take regular gluten recipes and make them gluten free. So I replaced the regular flour with corn starch mix (or you can also use corn starch with rice flour). These crepes are delicious!!

    Merci, elles sont delicieuses!

  • David, thank you for your recipes and your amazing blog. About the crepes, here in Argentina we have them with dulce de leche. Really good!

  • David! You’re absolutely amazing. I’m a San Francisco born college student living in Paris right now and positively adore you. I’ve been lucky to have a cheap apartment with a kitchen the size of my bedroom (though the very concept of the electric stove is terrible), and spend far too much time reading your posts. I’ve been trying to make buckwheat crepes for my copain Français… where can I purchase sarrasin flour? They definitely don’t carry it at the Monoprix and Fauchon is a little out of my budget. Are there any other specialty stores I might try? On a related note, I’ve been craving Bay Area tacos and pho- do you know of any good supermarkets in the 13th for Asian staples? Or a place to find chiles?

    Thanks so much! You’re AMAZING.

    Bisous!

  • Claire: That’s odd that Monoprix doesn’t carry it. But my local Franprix does (so I assume most others do) or try another supermarket. If not, any natural food store, such as Naturalia or Biocoop will definitely have it.

  • Thanks!

  • I hope Leticia won’t mock me for wondering if I should use 3 tablespoons of butter, about 42 grams, or 5 T + 2 tsp = 80 grams? Maybe it is a question of personal taste, not math.

  • I totally forgot about the Magic Pan! There was one near my house and it was a special treat to go.

  • Hi David!

    I just got back from a volcano extended stay in Paris where I enjoyed galettes au sarrasin. I’m a gluten-free guy, so, I’m wondering if you have a suggestion for making your recipe sans gluten?

    Sante,

    Jamer

  • Jamer: I tried learning how to make them gluten free during a lesson at Breizh Cafe but didn’t have much luck!

  • Hi David!
    We’ve misplaced my French nana’s crepe recipe… I remember the ingredients: buttermilk, flour, eggs, melted butter, a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. But, alas, I can’t remember the proportions — since buttermilk is thicker, I felt weird just swapping it out for milk with other recipes. Also, it seems to me hers had a lot of butter, like a whole stick, but I might be making that up. Any tips? I’ve scoured the Web, and I can’t find anything similar. Also, my mom swears there was either baking soda or powder, but I think she’s gone batty.

    Thanks!!
    Shannon

  • Hi David,

    Please tell me that this is specifically for buckwheat crepes and you aren’t calling these galettes? Sugar and milk is fine for a crepe but a galette is at least 50% buckwheat flour and isn’t sweet at all.

    The real galette is made with only flour, water and salt. I use 90% buckwheat and 10% all purpose myself. In Rennes they actually do it with 100% buckwheat but my family uses white flour for the gluten so it’s a little stretchy. The only way to make it this way though is with light buckwheat flour. Since I only find the wholegrain stuff in the US, I tolerate recipes that have an egg and more white flour in the batter.

    If you want to be real authentic you should use saindoux to grease the billig!

  • Dear Gael: Yes, I know the authentic buckwheat galette is made only with buckwheat flour and water, no eggs or milk, and I did a post about buckwheat galettes. The problem, as noted in that post, is that the batter is extremely tricky to work with and for home cooks, without a bilig, it’s quite a task getting nice ‘crêpes’.

    I’ve not seen anyone in Brittany using anything but their beloved butter. But it’s interesting to hear that in Rennes, saindoux (lard) is used. Especially with all the great butter and dairy products from that region.

  • Hi David, I’m not sure if you’ll even check this comment thread given this late date, but I have a buckwheat crepe question. I just returned from my second trip to Paris. I’m more than a little food obsessed….so I purchased an inexpensive crepe burner (electric). I know they aren’t hard to make in a pan, but I thought this would be fun for my family and for entertaining.

    Last night, I tried your crepe recipe. (made it the night before to allow for chill time). They tasted wonderful. However, the crepes themselves were so delicate that they fell apart easily, were hard to flip (ripped easily), and had kind of a limp texture once filled.

    Did I do something incorrectly? I weighed my ingredients on a food scale and everything was fresh. I’m wondering if I didn’t cook them long enough, or at too low a temperature? Any suggestions?

    Thank you in advance, Kristen
    PS–LOVED your book (Sweet Life) wish I read it prior to my travels. My husband and I found much of your explanations simply hilarious!

  • Oh so late to this thread but – MAGIC PAN! I too was obsessed. Every birthday I’d get to choose a restaurant and it was always the Magic Pan with a pretty unenthused family in tow. Mocha crepes. They haunt me still, that perfect sauce. Any pointers or suggestions on how to welcome these back into my life would be deeply appreciated.