It’s pancake day and there are a number of ways you could choose to make them: fluffy ones for breakfast with crisp bacon and maple syrup; buckwheat galettes for lunch rolled around a fried egg and a slice of ham; drop scones with jam for tea and finally and arguably the classic, and still my favourite – lace-thin crepes for pudding at dinner, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sugar.
So what is the secret to getting the crepes lacy and crisp, rather than thin but rubbery? It helps if you start with a good pan. Mine is heavy bottomed, smooth (not not-stick) and gets really hot so when the batter is poured in, it browns and cooks before it sticks. I also make sure the batter is very thin. Thinner than single cream, but a bit thicker than milk. Thin enough that when you pour it into the pan, it literally runs all over the base. Any excess can then be poured out again, before it sets in too thick a layer.
In order to thin out the batter, all you need to use is water. Many recipes suggest milk but I find it doesn’t allow the edges to become crisp and if you’re after the added richness, save that for the topping. (A dollop of creme fraiche never goes amiss).
Below is my recipe for lacy-thin crepes, served most simply with a squeeze of lemon and some sugar. Happy Pancake Day!
It’s helpful to let the batter rest for at least half an hour if you can; if you want you could make it the day before. Just give it a good stir before using, adding a little water if it has thickened slightly.
(makes 10-12 crepes)
120g plain flour
Pinch fine salt
20g unsalted butter, plus extra for frying
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Put the milk, water and eggs into a jug and whisk well.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the milk mixture, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to gradually bring the flour in from the sides until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter back into the jug and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Melt the butter in the frying pan you are going to use to cook the crêpes, then pour it into the batter. Give the batter a good stir, it should have the consistency of single cream. If not, add a little more water. The pan will now have a good film of butter in it for you to cook your first crêpe.
Make sure the pan is really hot and pour a small amount of batter from the jug into the pan, tilting it all around as you go so that the batter spreads in a very thin layer over the bottom. Any extra batter you can pour back into the jug.
Cook for a minute or so until small bubbles appear on the surface and then use a spatula to gently ease the sides of the crêpe away from the pan. Carefully turn and cook for another minute on the other side.
Use a piece of kitchen paper to rub a tiny bit more butter into the pan before cooking each crêpe.
Crêpes can be made in advance and reheated easily. Just stack the cooked crepes on top of each other and cover with baking parchment or cling film and store in the fridge until needed. To reheat, put them in a low oven or heat individually in a frying pan with some butter.