Crêpes with Lemon & Sugar

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A simple and delicious recipe for basic French crêpes.

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My husband hails from the French region of Brittany where crêpes are thought to have originated.  And so it goes without saying that, in this part of the world, it is completely acceptable to have pancakes at breakfast every morning, or even as a goûter, the French equivalent of afternoon tea.

I unashamedly take advantage of this opportunity whenever we are in Brittany (and as do my nieces), although it is a rare occasion that the crêpe pan is actually put to use in the kitchen. The bakeries and pâtisseries in Brittany typically sell freshly-made crêpes, often in packets of 6 or 12, so it is not uncommon to grab a bag or two with the daily baguette. In fact, the bakery-produced crêpes are so delicious that we often bring back quite a few packets for our neighbours whenever we return from Brittany, with an instruction to eat them as quickly as possible because, unlike the supermarket variety, they only taste their best for a few days.

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At home, when pancakes are in demand, I tend to make my son’s favourite pikelets. These were the pancakes that I grew up eating in Australia, and it warms my heart to see that my son adores them as much as I do.

But once in a while, I like to make crêpes for something a bit more substantial. My Swedish sister-in-law claims that it is completely normal to eat sweet crêpes in Sweden as a proper meal – a statement which I haven’t investigated but I trust her on this one. On such occasions, I will make a large batch of crêpes and keep them warm in a low oven. Dinner is then all-you-can-eat-crêpes with an assortment of toppings, such as strawberry jam, homemade salted caramel sauce, cinnamon sugar or – my favourite – granulated sugar with a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Traditionally, the recipe below is used for sweet or dessert crêpes; savoury crêpes follow the same recipe but have buckwheat flour in place of the plain flour, and use water instead of milk. However, I rather like using this particular recipe also for savoury crêpes – there is very little sugar in the recipe so they are quite bland on their own (it is the toppings which add the sweetness), and they work really well with creamy sauces like this one from my recipe for Zurich-style Veal with Mushroom & Cream Sauce.

Today happens to be Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, and we are celebrating in the French-Vietnamese fashion by eating Vietnamese sizzling crêpes for main, followed by sweet French crêpes for dessert.

My husband likes to have jam with his crêpes and, unusually, my son prefers his pancakes to be plain. How do you enjoy your crêpes or pancakes?

Crêpes with Lemon & Sugar

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8-10 crêpes

Ingredients

  • 200 g (7 oz) plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 600 ml (20 fl oz) full cream milk
  • 2 eggs
  • butter, for frying

Instructions

  1. Measure the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl.
  2. Pour the milk into a large measuring jug and gently whisk in the eggs.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until everything is incorporated and there are no lumps. Be careful not to over-whisk the mixture.
  4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the batter to rest for at least 1 hour, or overnight in the fridge.
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat with about 1/2 teaspoon butter. Swirl the pan so that the butter melts and coats the surface of the pan.
  6. Pour about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of batter into the pan and quickly swirl the pan so that the batter covers the whole surface of the pan.
  7. Cook the crêpe for a few minutes until it is lightly golden and the edges look firm, before flipping it over to cook the other side for a further few minutes.
  8. Remove the cooked crêpe to a plate in a warm oven and continue with the remaining batter. Remember to melt about 1/2 teaspoon of butter each time before adding the batter to the pan – it is the butter which helps the crêpes to cook and brown.
  9. Serve the crêpes warm with a generous sprinkle of granulated sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, or with whatever topping you prefer.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 10
  • Calories: 146
  • Sugar: 2.8g
  • Sodium: 103mg
  • Fat: 3.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.7g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Protein: 5.4g
  • Cholesterol: 45.1mg

Cook’s Notes

It is important to let the batter rest so that the gluten in the flour has time to swell, leading to softer and less chewy crêpes. If you have left the batter to rest overnight, you might need to thin the batter a little with a dash of milk.

You can make crêpes or pancakes in any non-stick pan, but a special crêpe pan has very low sides which makes sliding the crêpe out of the pan easier. I have an old and trusty crêpe pan from T-Fal similar to this one. I also own a wide pancake spatula which makes flipping crêpes and pancakes a breeze.

As with any pancake recipe, the first pancake usually doesn’t always turn out or look right, often because the pan hasn’t come to the right temperature and/or because there is too much butter in the pan. In my husband’s family, they actually fight over the first pancake because they claim it to be the tastiest from all of the butter it has absorbed! If there is too much butter in the pan, this might actually prevent the pancake from browning nicely. Depending on the dimensions of your pan, you will have to play around with quantities of butter and batter to find the right balance for the perfect pancakes.

Any leftover crêpes can be kept in the fridge, covered in clingfilm, and gently reheated in a non-stick pan before serving. My sister-in-law freezes her crêpes and thaws them in the microwave for a quick snack or meal for her kids.

Share your photos!

If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and using #eatlittlebird

 

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19 Comments

  1. Katrina 10 February 2016

    These crepes sound wonderful! Love the simple lemon flavour!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2016

      Thanks, Katrina! I like to keep it simple and sometimes have just sugar. My son keeps it simplest of all by eating them plain!

      Reply
  2. Vickie 10 February 2016

    We have crepes for dinner sometimes (they are know as ‘flat pancakes’ in our house) & we have anything from lemon, sugar & cinnamon, to jam, stewed fruit (especially apples), maple syrup & even nutella occasionally on them.

    Also, crepe pans are the best!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2016

      Oh I love crêpes with Nutella too! Whenever we are in Paris and pass a crêpe stand, I often order one with Nutella 🙂 And my crêpe pan has been a better investment than I initially anticipated. When I bought it about 8 years ago, I thought it was a terribly expensive non-stick pan. But it turns out that I use it almost daily to make not just pancakes but also flatbreads, naan bread, etc. I love it!

      Reply
  3. Stacey 14 February 2016

    Beautiful photos! I love your ceramic juicer. Are Vietnamese sizzling crepes the same as banh xeo? If so, any possibility for a recipe for those also?

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 14 February 2016

      Thank you! Yes, Vietnamese sizzling crêpes are called “banh xeo”. They take a bit more work than French crêpes but it’s one of our favourite dishes. I’ll try to post a recipe for them soon!

      Reply
  4. sugar and lemon with my pancakes and that is all. I also mean English pancakes that are like crepes, nothing like the American style fluffy ones.

    These look so delicious!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 February 2016

      So we have similar taste in toppings 😉 I love all pancakes – crêpes and the thick, fluffy American ones. My favourites are the Australian pikelets, though 🙂

      Reply
  5. Rushi 15 February 2016

    Thanh, I’ve been meaning pop by but time seems to be a scarce commodity these days especially when you have a 1 year old who demands your full attention.
    I love pancakes, especially with lemon & sugar but another favourite of mine is my mom’s savoury version which is then stuffed with tuna and potatoes…
    xx

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 February 2016

      Oh I know how it is! I’ve been meaning to write to you for a long time … You have me curious about these savoury pancakes – they sound so delicious!!

      Reply
  6. Beeta @ Mon Petit Four 21 February 2016

    Your crepes are beautiful, Thanh! I love the combination of lemon juice and sugar with these. And while I knew crepes can be savory, I never knew that there was a Brittany tradition of enjoying them as a sort of “bun” or envelope for sausage as well, which is something I learned on my last trip to France. It was good, but I prefer crepes done simply as you’ve so beautifully presented here! 🙂

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 21 February 2016

      Thanks, Beeta! Are you referring to a savoury galette with Andouille? That’s a very classic dish in Brittany. I tend to prefer sweet crêpes … I could eat them all day 🙂

      Reply
  7. Laura 21 February 2016

    My husband is from Brittany, too (via his mother)! I love crepes, but I prefer the British way of making them, slightly thicker, less dry. I have to hide this fact from my mother-in-law! They sometimes also make crepes with a heavier, darker flour which are then filled with savoury fillings – I can’t remember the name of the flour though. I love your site! Your photos are lovely!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 21 February 2016

      Ha ha!! My mother-in-law makes really nice crêpes. She once made them for dinner when we were visiting with some other family members, and the poor lady was stuck in the kitchen the whole evening, making crêpes one at a time for everyone! The savoury crêpes you are referring to are called galettes, which are made with buckwheat flour. I grew up eating savoury crêpes made with the same recipe used for sweet crêpes, so I actually prefer them to the traditional buckwheat galettes. Although I always look forward to lunch or dinner at the local crêperie when we are in Brittany, and will feast on both savoury and sweet crêpes 🙂

      Reply
  8. Paula 27 February 2016

    I received a crêpe pan for Christmas!! It’s sooooo great having this, instead of using a pan.

    Our biggest problem is to flip the crêpes, what a stupid, we have a spatula just like yours (but in blue!), we use for flipping eggs, why don’t we use it for this!!! I can’t believe it!! We use two normal spatulas, because I have a bigger flexible flex turner, but as it is metalic, I don’t want to damage my lovely crêpe pan. It’s so frustrating!!
    I’ll try next time with this.

    Crêpes with lemon and sugar reminds me of France, because there, we always have in the afternoon one of this, so simple and so delicious.

    Have a nice weekend!!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 1 March 2016

      Lucky you! I love my crêpe pan 🙂 I use it for crêpes, pancakes, tortillas, flatbreads … you will find lots of use for it, I’m sure! I found my pancake spatula in the US – before then, I didn’t know such things existed! But it’s a great tool to have, and you can imagine how useful they are 🙂

      Reply
  9. Alex 17 January 2017

    These crepes look so delicious! I love their simplicity. And I do believe your sister-in-law may be right – in Ukraine, where I’m from, it is also acceptable to have crepes as a meal, both with sweet and savory toppings.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 17 January 2017

      How wonderful to come from a culture where it is acceptable to eat crêpes as a meal! The children absolutely love it when I make crêpes for dinner (it doesn’t happen very often), and I must admit that I’m quite happy to have something sweet for dinner sometimes 🙂

      Reply
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