Today is Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, the last day before the beginning of Lent… Now, I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I don’t observe Lent in the slightest, but since Shrove Tuesday is all about over-indulging on good food, I’ll happily (enthusiastically, in fact) get involved! I think it might be quite a British thing, but Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day. Ya, that’s right, a whole day dedicated to pancakes. According to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, this is because pancakes were (and still are) a great way to use up rich foods such as eggs, sugar and milk which were often avoided or used as little as possible during Lent.
Now, I’ve been helping my mum make crêpes since I was about 5. Well, by “helping,” what I really mean is just generally getting in the way and watching, but that’s the best way to learn! For as long as I can remember my mum has had the same crêpe pans, bought in France and carted around the world with us. By the time we moved to Norway (when I was 10), I’d progressed to actually being vaguely useful and was given the job of flipping the crêpes, which I was pretty good at. Then one day it all went horribly wrong: instead of landing back in the pan, the crêpe I had just flipped landed on my wrist. Ouch. My automatic reaction was to drop the crêpe pan. Crash bang boom, it hit the floor, and it has had a
massive slight dent ever since. Despite being dented, the pan was still perfectly usable (the crêpes always came out slightly uneven – they still tasted wonderful though) so my mum kept it. Guess what she gave me when I moved to university? Ya, that’s right, the dented crêpe pan. She also very kindly bought me a snazzy non-dented Tefal one (it goes so much quicker with two pans!).
So what’s all this about a crêpe drought? Well, this summer, a very unfortunate incident happened. Let’s just say that it involved tuna steaks being fried (one might almost say burnt) in my little dented crêpe pan by somebody who was unaware that it was not a frying pan. Needless to say, this didn’t go down so well (to put it mildly). I know it might sound a little ridiculous, especially considering that it’s already dented, but because it’s one of the pans that I learnt to make crêpes in, I am deeply attached to it, and I’ve been slightly too scared (and still a little too angry) to test it in case it turned out to be completely ruined. Thus ensued about six months of my life with a distinct lack of crêpes. But I realised this weekend that I was going to have to face up to it eventually, so for the first time since the Tuna Incident, out came the crêpe pans! The first couple came out with a slight fishy whiff, but after those it seems to be fine (thank goodness!). Hurrah! The crêpe drought is over!
So, back to Pancake Day – the possibilities are endless, but in celebration of my dented crêpe pan not being ruined, I thought I’d just share my basic crêpe recipe with you. You need the basics to build on anyway, right? This batter works with both savoury and sweet fillings (ham, cheese, jams, Nutella, honey, whipped cream and fruit, etc.) so be as imaginative as you like! Aside from crêpes flambées, I think my favourite filling has to be the oh-so-tasty combination of lemon juice and sugar, which I realise is incredibly generic, but the flavours just work so well and it reminds me of my childhood.
Serves 2-3 people
Recipe from my mum
These crepes work with both savoury and sweet fillings, so you can easily make a whole meal out of them, and you can add anything you like to them. Any leftover crêpes can easily be frozen (though make sure you put either cling-film or baking paper between each crêpe), and once defrosted they can be stuffed and baked to make a lunch or light dinner. Just a word of warning: the first and last crêpe usually always look pretty unpresentable. Looks like you just have to eat them yourself – what a shame…
250g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp oil (rapeseed or vegetable oil) plus extra for the pan
Pinch of salt
1. Add all the ingredients (it helps to sift the flour) to a large bowl and thoroughly combine using an electric whisk.
2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. The batter will thicken a little in the fridge, so add 1-2 ladles of water (this depends on how long it sits in the fridge for – 1 hour is about 1 ladle of water, 2 hours requires about 1 ½ or 2 ladles) and stir well.
4. Pour some oil into a little ramekin or dish, and using some kitchen roll, wipe oil across your crêpe pan and heat it over a low to medium heat. Once the pan is hot, pour a ladle of crêpe batter (this will obviously depend on the diameter of your pan, you may need a little less, or a little more) into your pan and by twisting the pan, make sure that the batter covers the entire surface of the pan.
5. Allow to cook a few minutes, and once the crêpe comes away from the pan and is golden on the underside, flip it and cook the other side for a few minutes. You know it’s done when it has browned slightly.
6. Either eat immediately, or put on a plate covered by a second plate to keep them warm before serving.
7. Use the kitchen roll to lightly re-oil the crêpe pan, and make sure that the pan is hot again before adding the batter to make the next crêpe.
Enjoy with whatever toppings take your fancy!