Now I understand the crepe craze that hit the chic homes when I was growing up. These French pancakes are oh-la-la with savory or sweet fillings. Clever French cooks invented a delicious, easy way to dress up left-overs and make quick desserts. I laughed out loud the first time I got one to flip successfully and again when another crepe did a 360. My recipe is gluten-free, vegan, and still buttery and light. Read on for thrifty tips to help you get the most out of your batter.
Wrap them around greens with mushrooms, stews, beans, fruit, and even chocolate chips and jam. You can make the batter and even the crepes ahead, so they are perfect for entertaining.
Gluten-Free and Vegan Buckwheat Crepes
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 1 hour or more depending on resting period for batter. Makes 8 crepes.
- 1 cup buckwheat flour(120 grams)
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed, ground (14 grams)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil or other neutral oil, plus 1/4 teaspoon for the pan
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- Put dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together with a fork. Add wet ingredients and stir until just blended. Cover and let rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes (up to four hours) or refrigerate for up to two days.
- Before you start cooking the crepes, prepare the filling. Set out a 1/3 cup measure or a ladle for dipping out the batter and a plate for stacking the crepes. If you want to keep the crepes warm as you cook them, also heat a toaster oven or regular oven to 200°F. and get out a heat-proof plate to stack the finished crepes. I use a Corelle Ware plate.
- Spread remaining 1/4 teaspoon oil in a large non-stick skillet with a spatula or your clean fingers. Heat skillet over medium high heat. When you think it is hot enough, flick a drop of water on the skillet. If the drop dances and sizzles, you are ready to cook crepes.
- Ladle about 1/3 cup of crepe batter onto the hot skillet in a swirl so it forms a thin circle. Tilt the pan if needed to close up holes and spread the batter. Notice how shiny the batter is at first. The crepe is ready to flip in about a minute, after the top turns dull and the edges turn golden and lift up a little.
- Expert crepe flippers just give the pan a good shake to loosen the crepe, then use a sweep-and-jerk motion to flip it in the air. (See the Julia Child video below.) I loosen the crepe with a spatula first and, after a few torn crepes, can now flip them just using the pan. (This is laugh-out-loud fun. Try it a few times and you'll be able to do it too!) When I started, I flipped the crepes using a spatula, but they are so thin they sometimes tear that way. You can also carefully grab an edge with your fingers and flip them. Even most expert cooks "ruin" the first one. Don't worry, just check out the flipping tips below.
- Cook the crepe for about 30 seconds more, until set but not browned. You can fill each crepe while it is in the pan (see next step), but I prefer to stack them up and then fill them after they are all cooked. Slide the cooked crepe, filled or not, onto a plate and quickly dip out another measure of batter. If you have warmed the oven, put the cooked crepe on the heatproof plate in the oven, then dash back to the stove to flip the crepe in the skillet. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Fill crepes by spreading filling in a line about one-third of the way across the crepe. Fold the short side over the filling and then the long side over the short side. Serve at once. If you have extra whole crepes, separate them with waxed paper and freeze in a freezer-safe bag for up to three months. Reheat in a toaster oven or microwave.
Julia Child shows how to flip a French crepe
She uses 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons of butter, but her techique is inspiring. She makes you feel like you can do it and you can! She recommends using crepes to wrap "all sorts of deliciously prepared leftovers" and notes that this is what French restaurants do too.
Because of Julia, I tried using my big non-stick skillet instead of my cast-iron skillet with much better results. The crepes didn't stick nearly as much. Cast-iron skillets are so heavy that they are harder to sweep and jerk for a good flip.
- If your crepes tear too easily and you don't mind gluten, replace 1/4 buckwheat flour with 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour.
- Why not mix up the crepe batter and use it right away? Resting allows a little fermtation to take place, enhancing the flavor. The gluten in the wheat flour relaxes and both flours absorb more water. You can keep this plant-based crepe batter on the counter longer than the traditional ones that contain raw eggs.
- Use vegan chocolate chips and other fillings, of course. I use Sunspire Organic 42% Cocao Chips or Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- Enjoy any extra "ruined" (torn, folded over, etc.) crepes topped with maple syrup for breakfast. Just refrigerate overnight and microwave on high for a minute.