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What are Crepes?

Diane Goettel
By
Updated Jan 25, 2024
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Crepes, a part of traditional French cuisine, are very thin pancakes made of wheat flour. In order to make them, a thin flour batter is poured onto a lightly oiled frying pan or round hot plate. In order to make sure that the thickness of the crepe is consistent, the batter must be quickly spread evenly on the hot surface. Creperies, or restaurants that serve many variations of crepes, often employ a special kind of spatula that has been designed for this very purpose. Crepe lovers who cook the French treat in their own kitchens, however, are generally able to make wonderful thin pancakes by simply tilting the pan in each direction in order to distribute the batter. Crepes need to be flipped at least once so that both sides are properly cooked. Once they have been cooked, they can have a number of ingredients rolled or folded into them.

Types

These pancakes can serve many functions on a menu. They can be sweet or savory. They can serve as appetizers, main courses, side dishes, and desserts. For main courses, crepes are often filled with a combination of ingredients including meat; cheeses, creams, and eggs; vegetables including spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, chives, and ratatouille. Sweet or dessert crepes are often filled with preserves, chocolate, fruits, sweet cream, and even ice cream.

Origins

Crepes originated in the west of France, in a region called Brittany. They have since become quite popular throughout France and the rest of Europe. In areas where these pancakes are popular, they serve as street and carnival fare as well as portions of restaurant menus. Just as many North American cities are home to hot dog and pretzel stands, many European cities are home to crepe carts where pedestrians can order their favorite crepe to eat from a paper plate as they take a stroll.

Types of Flour Used

While crepes are traditionally made from wheat flour, some chefs create variations by using white flour or buckwheat flour. It should be noted, for those with wheat allergies, that those made from 100% buckwheat flour are completely gluten-free. Thus, while most will lead to an allergic reaction, buckwheat crepes are safe. Just be sure that the pans or hot plates used for cooking the buckwheat pancakes are not also used for ones made of wheat.

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Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel , Former Writer
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"

Discussion Comments

By burcidi — On Mar 08, 2011

If crepes were made with rice flour instead of wheat flour or white flour, they would be really similar to crepes in Sri Lanka and India. The only difference is that "appas" or rice crepes are thicker. I suppose they could be stuffed but I've only seen them served alongside main dishes and dips. I think the term "crepe" now applies to many foods, not just the original French crepes we are used to.

By serenesurface — On Mar 06, 2011

At restaurants, I've tried banana and nutella crepe. I like crepes that are buttery and a little sweet. I don't like having them as a meal with meat or vegetables inside.

Once I made a cinnamon apple filling that was really good. I took the skin off of an apple and diced it. I cooked it on low heat with the lid closed and also sprinkled cinnamon on top. I buttered the crepes before I put the filling in. My mom said it was the best food she has ever tasted.

I think making crepes at home are a better idea than having them at restaurants. Maybe, it's just my experience, but I never know what to expect at restaurants. Like the banana crepe I had, just had sliced bananas in it, it didn't taste special. The nutella crepe was good but was really sweet and I kind of felt bad about the money I paid for it. I could have made a nutella crepe at home for much cheaper. Plus, there are so many easy crepe recipes out there. You can make it with what you already have at home.

By ddljohn — On Mar 05, 2011

Crepes are one of those foods that seem really easy to make but actually it isn't. I have to follow my recipe every time I make them. The milk, flour and egg ratio is important. Otherwise, it doesn't taste quite right and I have difficulty getting the right thickness and consistency.

After about three tries, I realized that I only need to pour a little bit of the mixture and then spread it out on the pan by moving the pan in different directions. Also, the pan needs to be really hot. Since crepes are thin, you don't need to worry about the insides not cooking. I keep the heat high but flip it over quickly and take it off the pan quickly so that it doesn't burn.

I make the crepe filling ready before I start making the crepes because crepes taste good when they're warm. I fill it right when I take it off the pan and eat it in a couple of minutes. If I don't have everything ready to go, I'm confused about what I'm doing and the crepes don't come out good. Like I said, making crepes looks easy, but it's hard.

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel

Former Writer

"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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