Living in a French-speaking region (and not too far from France), crêperies are easy to find. Unfortunately, because crêpe batter is usually not 100% buckwheat, my husband and I have never been to one because we were never sure if he’d be able to enjoy them and still be gluten free. Back when we lived in the States, one of our favorite French restaurants would serve crêpes filled with chicken and mushrooms that were out of this world. Then, when we ventured off to Paris a couple months ago, I had the privilege of enjoying a crêpe filled with four kinds of cheese (au quatre fromages) – I think there was comté, brie, emmental, and chevre – an odd combo, but delicious. Little tiny hole-in-the-wall place by the Louvre that made them to order, I think with the café, my total came to something like only 5 euros!
I always felt bad for my husband, because every time I’ve been able to enjoy the delectably thin envelopes of pan-fried goodness that can envelop such a multitude of flavors, he had to miss out. Even the buckwheat ones, which so often were not 100% GF. I had always been hesitant to try them at home, because I don’t own a crêpe maker, nor a special short-lipped pan specifically made for them. Not having seen anyone make them with a regular old frying pan, I always figured that the special equipment was necessary for a proper crêpe.
However, one should never doubt the power of a stainless frying pan! This was the lesson that I learned this weekend. Crêpes can totally be made in nothing more than a plain old frying pan – doesn’t even have to be non-stick! And making them gluten free? Well that’s the easy part – crêpes, pancakes, waffles, and the like all hate gluten. Gluten free does it better in my eyes, making for some of the lightest most beautiful versions of our favorite breakfast foods. Given that the recipe for these buckwheat crêpes was already 75% gluten free, I just substituted the last 25% of AP flour for my generic all-purpose GF mix – it was perfect!
Really, crêpes aren’t all that different from a pancake. No baking soda because they don’t need to be fluffy – just light and thin. And because there is no baking soda to activate, it’s no longer necessary to have buttermilk providing acidity in the batter; any old milk will do just fine. One thing I found unique about making crêpes was the need to let the batter sit out for a couple of hours before using it. I’m still not quite sure why this is required, maybe to allow the flour and liquid to interact more and make for a smoother batter? I could be wrong, but I haven’t tried skipping that step yet so not exactly sure.
Of course to test crêpes I needed a scrumptious filling. I went for the peaches that desperately needed using, didn’t even bother peeling them – just cut them up, juices dripping off the cutting board all over my hands, and tossed them into a pan – softened them up over the heat in some butter and maple syrup, a little cinnamon/vanilla, and called it good. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to find nice peaches, so I wanted to enjoy them while they still are fairly reasonably priced!
Cooking the actual crêpes was so easy. Effortless even. Don’t be intimidated, just go for it! Fill them with whatever your heart desires. Use them to remember times traveling with friends, or to create new memories. But most of all, be creative, and find freedom with them. Even gluten free cooking, with all the crazy different flours and ingredients out there, yes, even gluten free cooking can give you freedom in the kitchen. Dessert, dinner, breakfast, tasty snack, make these crêpes to suit whatever you are in the mood for!
Crêpe recipe adapted from My French House
For the crêpes
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose GF flour mix
1.5 cups milk
3/4 stick butter, melted
For the peach filling
2 tbs. butter
3 peaches, pitted and cubed
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbs. maple syrup
1. Mix together flours and salt, and whisk in the eggs until well combined. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of milk by slowly adding in 1/4 cup at a time, stirring until you have a smooth lump-free batter. Also stir in 2 tbs. of the melted butter.
2. Let the batter stand out on the counter for two hours, then come back to reassess the batter. If it is not runny enough, slowly add in more milk, a couple tbs. at a time. I needed close to 1.5 cups of milk when all was said and done, which is why I wrote that amt. on the ingredient list. It’s more than the original recipe because GF flour tends to be a bit hygroscopic and absorbs liquid more than regular flour.
3. Meanwhile, when you have about 1/2 hr left to go waiting on your crêpe batter, make the peach filling. Melt 2 tbs. butter in a medium pan on medium heat and then add peaches. Scrape vanilla out of the pod and add to the pan, along with the cinnamon. Let cook until the peaches start to soften and they release their juices before adding in the maple syrup. Stir every few minutes to make sure you don’t have the peaches sticking too much to the pan, and continue to cook another 10-15 minutes until the peaches are melt-in-your-mouth-soft. (yeah, this recipe isn’t the most precise. I just threw stuff in and tried to write it down as i went. I tasted a bit until I got what I liked. It’s pretty flexible, don’t worry if you don’t do something exactly the same way). When done, set aside.
4. Re-melt the remaining butter from the crépes. Heat a pan on med-high heat and brush some (about 1 tbs.) onto the surface of your hot pan. Use a ladle or something with a pour spout to pour batter onto the pan. If making 10″ crêpes, this means you’ll need somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cups of batter. When you pour onto your pan, immediately swirl it around to cover as much of the pan surface as possible. About 30-60s later, use a flexible spatula to check if the bottom is cooked enough to flip. You want them just starting to brown. Then, use the spatula to make sure all of the crêpe is released from the pan, and flip in one smooth quick motion. Fry the other side for about a minute until it just starts to brown, then slide off onto a plate. When making subsequent crêpes, add more melted butter to the pan as necessary.
5. To assemble, lay the crêpe on the plate, and spoon the filling in a line down the middle. Roll the crêpe into a nice cylindrical shape. You can top with more filling or homemade whipped cream if you want, and a little powdered sugar dusting and some hazelnuts are pretty too. Enjoy!