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.
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.
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.