Crepes are one of my new food loves. Sadly, I didn’t attempt making them until this year. Crepes seemed intimidating with all that pan twirling. And didn’t I need a special crepe pan? And gluten-free crepes, those can’t be good or easy, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.
Unlike pancakes which are very bready, crepes are more milk and eggs than flour. This means they don’t give me that overly sweet headache I get after eating pancakes. I’ve become very sensitive to overly-sweet things in my old age. A crepe is basically solidified, not-too-sweet, pan-fried custard. Serve with a little powdered sugar and a big glass of milk, and you’ve got yourself a great breakfast…or dinner. I love them. And I hope you will love them too.
Crepes are also very easy to modify to be gluten-free. I found a recipe I like here, and have made a few modifications of my own.
Start with some good gluten-free flour. I used King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour. If you make your own flour mix, use that. If you buy a mix, make sure it doesn’t contain any xantham or guar gum. No thickeners are needed in this recipe.
Full disclosure: King Arthur Flour sent me this flour to review, but don’t worry, you can’t buy my love. My reviews are unbiased because my goal is to be helpful, especially if you’re new to the gluten-free diet. Also, all that stuff about ethics.
I like King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour mix for several reasons:
- Their flour mix is very close to the mix I make. It’s a good mix with great texture, no funky smells and no graininess.
- The mix contains no salt, xanthum or guar gum. It is a blank palette.
- It is “multi-purpose mix.” I like that they call it that. There is no such thing as all-purpose gluten-free flour. The quicker you get the idea of all-purpose gluten-free flour out of your head, the quicker you’ll stop having a broken heart and ruined recipes. Like the name implies, multi-purpose flour doesn’t work for everything. I wouldn’t make a roux with it. I wouldn’t use it to make pâte à choux. I would use it for crepes and pancakes and cookies and cakes and banana bread though. (Anything except crepes and pancakes need to have xantham or guar gum added).
Mixes are always more expensive, so make your own flour mix if you’re a pro. If you’re a gluten-free beginner, mixes are a great way to get your sea legs.
Back to the crepes: get a cup of gluten-free flour.
Mix together the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients: baking powder and sugar and a bit of salt. Stir the dry ingredients together so they’re nice and mixed together.
Remember one of the cardinal rules of gluten-free baking: if you modify a regular recipe to a gluten-free recipe, always half the salt and use unsalted butter.
Gluten-free flours have a neutral taste compared to strong-tasting (and evil) wheat flour, and therefore can’t take the full amount of salt. But there is a silver lining: that same neutral tasting gluten-free flour puts the spotlight on other flavors – cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg – they are all more vibrant in gluten-free baked goodies.
You haven’t lived, I tell ya, until you’ve had a gluten-free spice cake. And that’s a fact, Jack.
Put two tablespoons of butter in the microwave to melt.
Measure out one and a quarter cups of milk.
Using only your palest and most unmanicured hand, crack two eggs into the milk and stir them up real good. See, I told you crepes were more about the milk and eggs and less about the flour.
Stir in the butter. This is why you want the eggs to be mixed in really well. You wouldn’t want splotches of scrambled eggs in your crepes. That would be gross.
Don’t toss the butter bowl into the sink just yet. You’ll use it again in a second.
I owe a lifetime of gratitude to Ree Drummond for introducing me to vanilla bean paste. It’s basically the scraped out bits of the vanilla bean in a convenient jar. Oh so good. It’s much cheaper than vanilla beans, and costs about the same as high-quality vanilla extract. One bottle usually lasts me a year.
Can you see all the vanilla beans (technical name: vanilla caviar) in the thick, gooey paste. Yum.
If you want to make savory crepes, skip the sugar and vanilla.
But that leads me to an important question. Why would you want to make savory crepes? The powdered sugar is the best part? I guess you could fill it with chicken and spinach and all those other crepe-y things. If you must.
Dump the wet and the dry mixes together and whisk until the batter is nice and smooth.
Side note: I love my flat whisk. It’s a whisk. It’s a spatula. It senses my needs.
Remember that butter bowl (or ramekin in this case) I told you not to toss in the sink? It’s time for its second act.
Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in it. Once it’s melted, add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Don’t stress out about the measurements – just get it about half and half. You’ll use this to butter the pan each time. The butter gives the crepes great flavor, keeps them from sticking to the pan, and creates the signature bubbly marks on the crepes’ surface. The added oil keeps the butter from burning on the pan.
The crepe dance goes something like this (to the tune of Gangnam Style).
- Butter – Butter pan with cooking brush. I just use my regular old 10-inch non-stick frying pan. It works great.
- Whisk – Give the batter a quick whisk. The batter is so light that the flour sinks down to the bottom. Do this step every time.
- Pour – Scoop a quarter cup of batter on to the hot pan. The batter will immediately start to sizzle. Grab the skillet’s handle and swirl the skillet around gently until the batter is evenly distributed. (Adjust the amount of your scoop based on the size of your pan).
- Flip – Allow to cook until the bottom is golden brown (you can slide your spatula under to take a peek). It’s about 45 seconds to a minute. Flip with your spatula and let it cook for another 30 seconds to a minute.
- Repeat – Until all your beautiful crepes are cooked.
Fold them in fours and put them on a plate. Top with a little butter and powdered sugar.
Aren’t they beautiful, and you can make them too!
- 1 cup gluten-free flour mix without xanthan gum
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Mix the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the milk and eggs and then drizzle in the butter, constantly stirring the milk. Whisk in the vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. After it's melted, add the tablespoon of oil. Stir to combine.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the butter/oil mixture on the skillet, rewhisk the batter and scoop a quarter of a cup of batter on the skillet. Quickly grab the handle of the skillet and twirl the pan around until the crepe is spread thinly around the pan. After about a minute, flip the crepe and let it cook for 30 seconds to a minute on the other side. Complete this step for every crepe.
- Serve with any of the following: butter and powdered sugar, fruit compote, Nutella, or maple syrup.