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Crêpe

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A crepe is an unleavened, flat, thin pancake of cooked dough or batter which is used as a wrapper for another food. Crepes can be served as a dessert; stuffed with ham, fish, spinach or the like as a main course; or stuffed with cheese and cut into tidbits as a hot hors d'oeuvre. Some type of crepe is made in most cuisines the world over. There is the Italian crespella, the French crepe, the Chinese mandarin pancake, the Mexican tortilla, and the Russian blinchki. In France the crepe used to be called pannequet, from which the word pancake is probably derived. A very thin pannequet resembles the wrinkled, fragile looking fabric which we know as crepe—hence its name. It is sometimes called crepe dentelle because of the tiny lacy holes at the edges.

The quantity of liquid in the batter can be changed to make the crepe thicker or thinner. Milk or a mixture of milk and water is usually used, but some recipes use cream or even beer. Cream or extra egg yolks make a crepe that is tender, soft, and difficult to turn. The more water and the less fat, the more it is like bread dough, making a crepe that's tougher and more elastic. The number of eggs varies from recipe to recipe as well. The batter does not have to rest and set before it can be used. If it sets, it gets more elastic and stronger, but in the final product this is hardly noticeable.

There are special steel crepe pans, 4 to 5 inches in diameter, that have very short sides, which makes the crepe easy to flip. Any pan that has a nonstick surface works just as well, and does not have to be seasoned. We use a pan 7 to 8 inches in diameter. It makes a larger crepe, and the whole process goes faster.

As you make the crepes, stack them one on top of the other to prevent them from drying out. Crepes can be made ahead of time and reheated, especially when they are to be stuffed or used in Crepes Suzette. If you cover them with plastic wrap so that they do not dehydrate and absorb other flavors, they will last a few days in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen



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