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January 24, 2022

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Versatile crêpes

The incredible flavour of this standard batter comes from the brown butter, or beurre noisette in French, which means “hazelnut butter.” It’s an apt name because the milk solids in the butter get toasted into a lovely mellow nuttiness. To boost the “dessertiness” of the crêpes, add 2 teaspoons (10 ml) sugar and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract to the batter.

You can use the blender to make the batter or whisk it together by hand. If you’re new to crêpe-making, prepare to mess up the first crêpe (or even more) as you get the hang of swirling the batter into the pan, having your pan at the right temperature and the timing.

1¾-2¼ c. (440-560 ml) whole milk
4 large eggs
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) salt
1½ c. (375 ml) all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. (90 g) unsalted butter (preferably brown butter), melted, plus unsalted butter for the pan

Put 1¾ cups (440 ml) of the milk, the eggs and salt into a blender. Whiz for a few seconds to blend together. Remove the lid and add the flour. Cover and blend until very smooth, 20 seconds. Pour in the melted butter, cover and whiz until combined, 10 seconds more.

Transfer the batter to a large measuring cup with a spout (or a bowl that’s large enough to dip a ¼-cup/60-ml measuring cup into it). Let the batter rest for 5 minutes, up to 24 hours. If resting for more than 30 minutes, store in the fridge. When you’re ready to make the crêpes, test the batter’s consistency; it should be as thick as heavy cream, but not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in up to ½ cup (125 ml) of the remaining milk.

Heat an 8-inch (20-cm) crêpe pan or nonstick skillet over medium high heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. Using a paper towel, smear ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) butter around the interior of the pan. The butter should sizzle upon contact, but not instantly turn brown. You don’t want the pan to be so hot that the butter burns.

Pour a ¼ cup (60 ml) of the batter into the centre of the pan and at the same time lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom in a thin circle. If the crêpe has any holes in it, quickly add a few drops of batter to fill them in. If the crêpe looks too thick, immediately pour the excess back into the measuring cup or bowl. You can trim off the “tail” that’s left behind later.

Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan, and the bottom is nicely browned, 1 minute. To check for color, use a table knife, slim offset spatula or your fingers to lift up an edge.

When the first side is ready, use the knife, spatula or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats, and cook until the centre is firm and the second side is browned too, 20 seconds more. The first side is almost always prettier and more evenly browned, while the second tends to be more spotty.

Slide the crêpe onto a large plate or cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more butter as you cook. You can stack the crêpes on the plate as they’re done. If you’re going to store them in the freezer, lay pieces of waxed or parchment paper between them. To keep in the fridge, just stack them neatly; no need for separators. The crêpes will soften as they cool.

To store, wrap the stack in plastic wrap and then slide it into a large freezer bag. The crêpes will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. To thaw, let the stack sit at room temperature until the crêpes are pliable, about an hour, and then peel them apart and proceed with your recipe. Makes 15 to 18 8-inch (20-cm) crêpes.

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