In the City of Lights, where the Eiffel Tower stands tall, numerous crêperies bustle with life… at sidewalk cafes, sit-down restaurants and take-away windows, everyone is enjoying but one famous dish. Crêpes. Sweet or savoury, eaten hot and off the pan, this dish is exquisite. Made from a batter of flour, eggs, milk, butter, salt, sugar, water and oil, crêpes are thin and transparent like muslin, have a golden brown hue and their edges resemble a fine lace. Made either soft or crispy, these French pancakes look a lot like our dosas. Their fillings can be complex and sophisticated or as simple as a dollop of herb butter, a dice of chillies, or crumbled sheep or goat cheese. You can make a meal entirely of crêpes—vegetables, cheeses and meats for dinner. Or, for sweet bite-fulls, tuck in some grated bittersweet chocolate or white or dark chocolate chips, spread with jam and sprinkle with powdered sugar, or sprinkle with sugar and splash with lemon juice.
Traditionally, crêpes are eaten to celebrate renewal, family life, and hope for good fortune and happiness ahead. It is customary to touch the handle of the frying pan and make a wish while the pancake is turned, holding a coin in the hand.
Most cuisines make crêpes in one form or another. There is Italian crespella, French crêpe, Chinese mandarin pancake, Mexican tortilla, Indian dosa, Russian blinchki, Scandinavian plattars, Jewish blintzes, Greek kreps and Ethiopian injera.
Assembling crêpes is swift and can often be done in advance to fill later for a party.
With a stack of these tender discs on hand, you will have myriad serving possibilities for a happy repast any time of day.
Ingredients for Crêpe batter ● 225 gm plain flour ● 2 eggs, lightly beaten ● 500 ml whole fat milk ● 2 tbsp caster sugar ● 50 gm unsalted butter, melted, plus extra melted butter to grease For the Orange Sauce ● 250 ml strained fresh orange juice ● 110 gm caster sugar ● Icing sugar to dust ● Segments of orange to serve Spiced Cheese filling ● 400 gm cottage cheese/paneer crumbled ● 100 gm softened cream cheese ● 35 gm currants ● 3 tbsp pure icing sugar, sifted ● 2 tsp finely grated orange zest ● 2 tsp ground cinnamon ● 1 tsp vanilla extract Preparation Put flour in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth. Crêpe batter should be about as thick as heavy cream. If it is too thick, thin it with a little water; If it is too thin, add more flour. Cover the batter with cling film and refrigerate it for an hour. For the cheese filling, stir all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.
For the sauce, put orange juice and castor sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Now increase the heat to high and simmer rapidly, stirring occasional for about 10 minutes or till the mixture is a light syrupy consistency.
Heat a crêpe pan (a dosa tawa would be perfect), or a medium-sized non-stick frying pan, over medium fire. Then brush the base with melted butter. For each crêpe, add a large ladle of batter to the pan and swirl quickly to cover the base. Cook for a minute, then lift the outer edge of the crêpe with a spatula and flip it over. Cook for further 30 seconds or until golden. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Now to finish, spread a heaped tablespoon of the cheese filling over a quarter of each crêpe and fold into quarters. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium fire and brush with melted butter. Working in batches, add the filled and folded crêpes to the frying pan and cook for about 30 seconds each side. To serve, place 2 crêpes on each plate. Dust with icing sugar and drizzle with warm orange sauce, and top it up with orange segments.
The writer is the author of AappleMint, a food, travel and photography blog