I have been putting off making this recipe. After living in Pont-Aven, Brittany for four months last year, where I ate many crepes and fastidiously observed the Bretons’ fierce pride of and love for their culinary traditions,
it seemed sort of silly for me, an amateur chef at best, to try to recreate the magic in my own kitchen once I’d come back to the states.
But, I have recently been missing Pont-Aven (and its food) more than I expected, so I decided to combat my nostalgia with this recipe. My favorite part of making the batter was how much the buckwheat flour, egg, and water mixture looked like the wet, dark grey and brown sand at the edge of the water on the beaches of Brittany.
Breton crepes, even the quick ones that are essentially fast food or the packaged ones sold in the grocery stores, are unique and delicious. The savory ones, which are called galettes, are large, quite thin, and made with buckwheat flour (ble sarrasin or ble noir) that gives them a rich brown color and a distinctly earthy flavor. They are served folded around ingredients like eggs, mushrooms, cheese, ham, sausage, or spinach.
Crepes are not actually difficult to make, but they do take patience, attention to detail, and a steady hand when flipping. They say the first crepe is always a miserable failure in the pan-a clumpy, misshapen mess-but if you’re like me they only start getting good after the fifth or sixth. It’s as if the batter from the failed crepes lays a coating down in the pan to set the stage for the rest of them. Mine didn’t turn out exactly like the ones in Pont-Aven, but they satisfied (at least momentarily) my longing for the flavors of Brittany.
ADAPTED FROM SAVEUR
Servings: Makes about 8 crepes (if you want to get good crepe-flipping practice in, make twice this amount of batter so there is more room for trial and error)
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 egg, beaten until foamy
1 cup milk
8 tbsp salted butter
1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl and mix. Form a well in the center. Pour in beaten egg. Mix egg into flour in a circular motion while pouring in 1 1/2 cups cool water. Stir and slap batter upward, scooping it up from the bottom. Continue with increasing speed and force, lifting and slapping the batter to make a hollow, spanking noise with the impact. Continue this process until batter is smooth and elastic, 3-4 minutes. Transfer batter to a medium bowl and pour 2 tbsp. water evenly over the top (this protects the batter from drying out). Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Stir milk and 2/3 cup water into batter. Heat a crepe pan-or if you don't have one, a nice big frying pan-over medium heat and brush with a bit of butter, wiping off any excess. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto pan, swirling quickly to spread batter out to edges. Cook until light golden and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Using a spatula, flip and cook until light golden on the second side. Repeat with remaining batter until it's gone. Eat plain, with a bit of butter or creme fraiche, or add savory ingredients like sauteed spinach, mushrooms, cheese, or a cooked egg and fold the crepe around the ingredients like a tortilla. They are best served immediately but the batter can last for a couple of days in the fridge.