Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Crepes & galettes

I've had this scrap of paper for almost 25 years. It was given to me by a man whilst I was inter-railing around northern France and Belgium with a friend before starting the second year of our French degree. I have no memory of why a total stranger gave me a recipe for pancakes but, he did, and I've kept it all these years.

For those of you who don't read French, this is what he wrote:

Oil: 3 soup spoons
Milk: 1/2 litre
Sugar: 1 soup spoon
Flour: 250g
Eggs: 3 eggs
Butter: 1 packet
Vanilla: 1 (packet? soup spoon?)
Water: 1/4 litre at the end (if too thick)

Put in the flour and add the milk little by little.
then the rest.

I can only guess that we were eating pancakes at the time or were talking about them. Pancake restaurants or 'Creperies' are very common in France. The first time I ate in one was aged 17 during an exchange visit to Angers organised by my college. It seemed very exotic at the time (the '80s) and particularly because it served savoury pancakes: up to this point, I'd only ever eaten pancakes with a sweet filling. It was also the first time I'd tried chantilly cream (whipped cream flavoured with vanilla and sugar). Yes, I had a very sheltered  childhood!

Of course, all of this is just a preamble to talking about the pancakes we've been eating for Pancake Day. Finding this recipe brought back memories of being in France eating both savoury and sweet, so I decided to make both. Though, as it's my yoga class tonight, we had them over the last couple of weekends instead. 

First up, savoury. In France, these are known as galettes and are made with buckwheat flour. This isn't the easiest ingredient to find so wholemeal flour would probably do just fine (I managed to track some down in Waitrose). But which recipe? The one in The Little Paris Kitchen only uses flour and water (which sounds like rations!) but all of the others I looked at included eggs and butter. I played safe and went with the majority, using a recipe adapted from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, Diana Henry's Roast figs, Sugar snow, worth buying just for the photography alone. I halved the recipe and omitted the plain flour, so this is the version I used:

125g buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
150ml milk
50ml water
Knob of butter, melted

I did end up adding extra water after the mixture had stood for a while as it was pretty thick - Diana says this is normal though.

Cheese and ham are the most common fillings but I wanted something more interesting and went with chicken, bacon, leeks and sweetcorn in a cheese sauce. And, as is traditional in Brittany, served with a glass of cider. The filling was delicious, not sure about the galettes. I think I should have browned them a bit longer although they did taste cooked. Very filling: we ended up leaving half.

For the sweet pancake, or crepe, I planned to use the recipe provided by my French stranger. However, the thought of using a whole packet of butter put me off! So, in the end, I went with a standard recipe:

110g plain flour
1 egg
150ml milk
large knob of butter, melted

Usually I just eat mine with lemon juice and sugar but, this time, I decided to try something different. I couldn't decide between two fillings so did both. The first was creme fraiche and lemon curd and, once rolled, the pancake was drizzled with homemade limoncello (from Sophie Grigson's Sunshine Food). Oh, so so good! Lemon is one of my absolute favourite flavours.

The second filling came from the Telegraph Weekend supplement this Saturday and was Nutella, banana and crumbled Crunchie bar. The pancake went in the oven like this for a few minutes until the Crunchie started to melt and was then rolled up. I came out of the kitchen to catch Chickpea licking her plate clean so it's pretty safe to say this combination was a success!

I think the sweet pancakes won hands down and we'll definitely be trying both flavours again. Will you being having pancakes today? Sweet or savoury? And what's your favourite filling? I'll be at yoga trying to work off some of the calories consumed eating these!

PS Thank you all so much for the lovely comments about my quilt. It really does mean a lot to me and makes my day! x


  1. I loved reading that post! I love that you kept the French recipe too. The pancakes you had look delicious. I was working all day Tuesday so didn't make any but you have put me in the mood! I have never made crepe style pancakes before, here in Scotland our pancakes are really 'drop scones' , much smaller and thicker and usually cooked on a griddle or heavy based pan. I am very keen to try your Nutella, banana and crunchier filling - looks yummy!
    M xxx

  2. What a post! I love the idea of crumbing a crunchie bar on top of the nutella - heaven! But lemon curd and creme fraiche - oh my. I would rather eat anything lemony over something chocolaty any day, it's one of my favourite flavours. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Gillian x