Back to Basics. Making crepes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

-Pastry perfection.-

I tend to be wary of crepes. I love them, but I just happen to have a habit of burning them as if I were knitting tissue paper over an open flame. Dodgy business these crepes.

Admittedly, at times I have a tendency to simply skirt away from certain challenges as if stealing away from disapproving parents in the middle of the night, not bothering to even leave a note. Most of my life I'm happy to meet a challenge. Yet there are always those lesser confrontations; ones where neither your future nor your reputation on the line. Some of them don't even bother to address you, instead happy to lay a deck chair out in the middle of the road and wait for you to drive around them simply because, let's face it, it's easier for both of you that way.

-Sugar. Butter. Cream. Honey. It's proof that the best things in life make you fat. But, seriously, fuck it because caramel.-

Caramel used to languish in my driveway like that. Until the day I was forced to run the bastard down, naturally.

Sadly, my old pastry teacher is the type to not have that bit of this avoidance nonsense. When I worked under her I had an aversion to caramel. Being a dedicated teacher and, I believe, hiding a slight sadistic streak she made me make both wet and dry caramels every single day, many times each day, for three months. It was never small pots of it, but rather large kettles. I was tasked to make so much caramel - more than we ever could need for the restaurant - that I could paint a room with the stuff. (And, oh, what a lovely room that would be, albeit sticky.) The first days it burnt sure enough. I would look away for two seconds and it would go from the shade of a palomino foal to smoking and black. The vent wouldn't catch it all and so the noxious cloud would curl its way through the kitchen licking at everything. It came to the point that at the smell of burning the other cooks in the kitchen would call out that I had burned the sugar again. It was only partly funny because it was usually the case. 

After about two weeks of this I mastered caramel. I can make about 20 liters of the stuff in a pinch without even keeping an eye on it. My brain just knows when it's done, and should I doubt my internal timer my eyes and nose are aware of exactly what to look for. Try, try again leads to success, success finally. 

So it is with crepes. It's been a while since I cooked with my teacher, Elaine Baker, who has the most appropriate last name for a pastry chef if ever there was one. I asked her if she wanted to get together, play catch up, and bake something for kicks.

-Most appropriate last name ever.-

So, of course, she choose crepes. The sneaky bitch.

I loaned her a copy of the book, Wintersweet. Upon my insistence she picked something from the book - the crepes. I have myself to blame then.

It's always wonderful when you can cook with your friends. Better when they're also your mentors. So we made batter, and swirled and nuzzled it in the pan. I find that the process works best when you have a glass of sparkling wine in your hand. The universe seems to demand it and who am I to argue with the great cosmos?

After two or ten crepes you develop the knack for it and, suddenly, crepe after crepe they all come out smashing. We tucked them fat with Bosc pears that were sautéed in brown sugar and a wicked knob of butter that all bubbled into a fruity caramel scented with nutmeg and vanilla bean. The whole mess was then made wet with a honey-based caramel and lazy dollops of whipped cream looser than lair's lips.

-Are you tempted yet? Good. Then get the book.-

It was probably one of the best crepes ever, frankly.

Also, the caramel was perfect.

Now I know that you probably want the recipe. I get it. I do. But I want to encourage you to go and pick up a copy of Inman's Wintersweet. So go. Get a copy. You won't regret it.

Crepe away.

Garrett out.

-The rest was filled with fried potato and blue cheese and then I died and went to hell because the parties there are better.-


  1. You're right. I need to just suck it up and make caramel. Everytime I make it, it clumps. The little pieces of milk fat clump and look like weevils in flour in my finished sauce.
    I hate it when you're right. Off to the store for heavy cream.


    1. Le the cream come to room temp. I find it helps. =)

  2. What are your thoughts on having an actual crepe pan? I have some pretty wide bottom both regular and non-stick. I too have never made crepes at home out of fear, and wondering if I really need the pan. Thoughts?

    1. I personally think the smaller the pan the better. =)

  3. What mom usually makes is a package and crepe hybrid. It's not as thin as real crepe and not thick so that it rolls. We top it with Nutella or jam. I like mine with butter and honey.

    I was surprised when I first made caramel. I didn't burn it, except when I read a recipe that asked to boil the mixture and I was stupid enough to follow, and the last time, the sugar didn't melt entirely.

    But the first couple of times were excellent that I had to come up with excuses to spoon it over or in something (my mouth particularly)

  4. Hisssssssss, crepes are one of my nemeses.

  5. Only if you promise that they'll work, without fancy tools! Because I love crepes, and even know when to flip and remove them, but I'll be darned if I can get the batter right or the right amount of batter for that matter.

    1. I can promise that if you practice they will work.

  6. Try, try again leads to success, success finally. I love that, put it in my quote collection with your name behind it!! Thanks! So wise!

  7. I bought Wintersweet as my Christmas present to myself. What a great investment that was! The persimmon/pomegranate/cranberry chapter is my favorite. I love that book and I'm glad to see I'm not alone!

  8. I made crepes for breakfast today for the kids. I like mine with sauteed fruit, whatever's in season, and Greek yogurt with honey. We also do a sprinkle of sugar and lime juice in the center, then just roll it up. and this time we opened the last jar of my mom's pumpkin butter.

  9. The idea of a fried potato and blue cheese crepe makes me drool. Yum, yum, and more yum.


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