Looking for an excuse to eat crêpes this weekend? I’ve got one for you! If January is synonymous with the Galette des Rois at Epiphany, February always gets off to a good start with the Chandeleur and its mouth-watering crêpes. Like the Galette des Rois, la Chandeleur has religious roots. It is always celebrated on February 2nd–the Catholic holiday of Candlemas also known as the Purification of the Blessed Virgin or the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. While the religious dimension has faded with time for the majority of the population, the tradition of eating crêpes has remained strong.
While we were busy being stuck at home, both Laura’s class and Elise’s playgroup were doing crêpe-based activities on Thursday. Laura has learned a couple of traditional sayings for the Chandeleur at school. For example, “Chandeleur à ta porte, c’est la fin des feuilles morte” and “Si la chandelle est belle et claire, nous avons l’hiver derrière.” Without translating them word for word both phrases set up the Chandeleur as a turning point–make it to the Chandeleur and you know that the worst of winter is over. Another tradition says that if you can successfully flip a crêpe with your right hand while holding a coin in the left, you will have a prosperous year. Unfortunately for me, my crêpe-flipping skills are non-existant!
Crêpes, at least here in Brittany, are a desert and made with wheat flour (or what I grew up referring to as simply flour). Savoury crêpes, on the other hand, are known as galettes and are made with buckwheat flour. You can immediately identify a buckwheat galette by its dark brown color. If you’re coming to Brittany a visit to a crêperie is a must. You can usually order a set menu for around 9-12€ consisting of a a glass of hard cider, a “complète,” a galette filled with an egg, cheese and ham, and a basic crêpe for dessert. While both galettes and crêpes come with a multitude of fillings, sometimes the best ones are the most simple. My favorite crêpe is a beurre-sucre, a crêpe with butter and sugar.
If you’re visiting Saint Malo/Dinard and looking for something a bit special, try Le Château d’Oh Crêperie (50 route Dinard, 22650 Ploubalay, tel. 02.96.27.36.98). Château d’eau means water tower in French and the crêperie sits perched 54 meters off the ground at the top of the Ploubalay water tower. Diners enjoy a panoramic view of Dinard, Saint Malo and the surrounding countryside. We’ve eaten there twice, once with friends from Korea and once for a romantic evening. You do pay for the view (don’t expect a 10€ menu here) but the food is good, the waiters are friendly and the view, of course, is breathtaking. It’s wise to reserve your table in the summer high season.
There are as many recipes for crêpes in France as there are potential fillings, which is to say a lot! While the basic ingredients remain the same (flour and milk), everyone seems to want to add their own personal touch to the batter be it rum, vanilla, rose water, fleur d’oranger, etc! The only other common point I can think of between all the recipes I’ve come across–a very hot skillet or crêpe pan for your batter. If you feel like trying your own hand at making crêpes, you don’t need to buy an expensive mix, simply open your kitchen cupboards. Here’s a basic recipe for you to try–
- 1 cup flour/128 grams
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk/1/4 liter
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- pinch of salt
- optional: dash of rum or vanilla extract
- Mix all ingredients together in a blender until very smooth. (You can also whisk them together by hand if you don’t have a blender available.)
- Pour into a bowl and let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Grease your skillet with butter and heat until hot.
- Using a ladle, pour a small quantity of batter into the skillet and immediately tilt the pan so that the batter covers the entire surface and forms a thin crêpe.
- Let the crêpe cook until the edges turn brown, flip, continue cooking and add any desired toppings (chocolate, butter/sugar, etc.)
- Serve immediately and enjoy.
- Note: You can also make all the crêpes at once and then reheat them with the topping of your choice.