Bread of the Month: Flipping for crepes

crepe01What does it say about the world we live in that each time I have typed the word “crepes,” my computerized autocorrect wants to change it to “creeps”? I realize that crepes are not on the radar very often — how could they be? I made these decadent little creatures recently and despite the true simplicity of the steps to the final product, there are many, many steps. So crepes, of course, are not an every day breakfast option nor an every day point of conversation. Still, wouldn’t it be a brighter existence if “crepes” overrode “creeps” instead of the other way around?

Crepes are another one of those dishes that would seem more likely to be obtained off a menu than out of one’s own skillet. But they are very do-able, despite the multitude of steps, which, once experienced, can be streamlined in the interest of time. Why shouldn’t you treat yourself and others to a delicious breakfast of crepes? Or a dessert? The recipe I found would work for either.

The crepes I chose to make had a lemon ricotta filling and a blueberry sauce. It seemed a heavenly combination. While I was tempted to purchase a real crepe pan, all manner of reading about cooking crepes suggested that a good nonstick skillet would serve the purpose. The problem was that all my nonstick skillets were 12 inches or larger, and I did not picture my crepes flapping out to those dimensions. So, I purchased an 8-inch version of my favorite T-fal Nonstick . It seemed rather small, but highly manageable given that the very thin crepe batter must be swirled around evenly in the hot, buttered skillet.

battter02Looking over the preparations needed to make crepes, I was delighted to find out I could make the batter ahead (in fact, it should be prepared ahead). All batter ingredients — flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla — are whirled together in a blender, then can be refrigerated overnight.

The morning of crepe-making, I decided to make my blueberry sauce, which I could have made up to a few days earlier as well. A simple syrup of cornstarch, sugar, water, lemon juice and plumlemon zest is boiled, then it calls for currant jelly to be added (I actually used some of my own homemade plum-blueberry jam). Fresh blueberries are added, and the whole mixture is then stewed down to a desirable thickness. Heavenly smells.

I commenced to crepe making. Of pancakes, I had flipped many. Crepe-making was new. I was apprehensive, thinking their delicate nature would make them hard to handle. Not so. Despite a jam01tear in the first one due to my nerves (the first pancake is often a throwaway, anyway), from that point onward, crepes spread as if commissioned, were ready to turn within moments, flipped as adeptly as a gymnast and were done and on the plate in just a few seconds more. I think the ease of handling came from making them in the smaller skillet — good call! I had a stack of seven when all was said and done (could have probably had a couple more, but I was generous with the batter).crepepan01

Next came the filling and folding step, again a little cause for uncertainty. I had mixed up a delicious-looking filling of ricotta cheese, egg, powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest and blueberries. But, truth is, I’d never been a champion burrito roller, which is how these crepes were to be folded. And a crepe was far more dainty than a tortilla. Surprisingly, the crepes were easy to work with. Yes, they are thin and delicate, but also very strong and filling01resilient — like a retina. Filling and folding them was actually quite manageable…and, pondering the Seinfeld episode where the crepes were too tightly rolled and squirted everyone in the face with hot filling – I kept them a little loose.

A sprinkling of cinnamon sugar over top, then the crepes were sent to the oven for baking (see why you don’t make them every day?). I must remark that the crepes themselves, with their vanilla flavor, smell more pastry than pancake in both stages of cooking.

crepepans2I plated the crepes and ladled on the dark, fruity sauce. Oh, boy! How delicious! Well-worth adding to repertoire, maybe once a month. Take a dishful to someone’s home (and charge them $1,000 for the multitude of steps – ha!). They should be made more often. That tender roll of buttery delicate cake, the light and not overly sweet richness of ricotta filling hinted with lemon, the full, tart juicy sauce topping. Oh, again it would happen!

Add crepes to your cooking vocabulary, even if autocorrect does not.
Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Crepes
Makes 7 to 8 crepes

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 to 3 teaspoons melted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar combined with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Crepes: In a blender, blend 2 eggs with milk. Add the flour, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Pour into a container, cover, and refrigerate let stand for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

To cook, heat a lightly buttered 7″ or 8″ crepe pan. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter in the hot pan and swirl the pan so the batter coats the bottom of the pan. Cook until the edges begin to brown. Carefully lift with a thin spatula and flip over. Cook for a few seconds, just until lightly browned. Place on a plate and repeat with remaining batter. If you will be storing the crepes for a short time, separate the crepes with small squares of waxed paper.

Heat oven to 350°. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish or spray with cooking spray.

In a bowl, gently combine the ricotta with the beaten egg, powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice. Fold in blueberries. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on a crepe; roll up gently, burrito style, tucking ends in to keep the filling from leaking. Arrange the filled crepes in the prepared baking dish; brush with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and bake for 20 minutes.

Blueberry Sauce

1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup water
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup red currant jelly
2 cups fresh blueberries

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium low and add the currant jelly. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add blueberries and bring to a boil once again. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until thick and syrupy. Makes about 2 cups of blueberry sauce.
Serve over pancakes or waffles, or as a sauce for ice cream, bread pudding, plain custard, cheesecake, pound cake, or dessert crepes. Just a few ideas!

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