Crepes are thin, soft and can go wonderfully with either sweet or savory fillings. Crepes may seem simple at first glance given that they have about 7 ingredients and only a couple of steps. However, there are a handful of things that go wrong despite the simplicity of the recipe. Read on to learn how to prevent these common issues. And for a tried and tested crepe recipe, I recommend my small-batch crepes.
What Are Crepes?
Crepes originated in France in the 13th century and quickly spread to Asia, the Middle East, and most of Europe. However, crepes didn’t find popularity in the United States until the 20th century.
Crepes are somewhat similar to a pancake though they are thin and tender rather than being fluffy and cake-like. They are generally made with flour, milk, butter, eggs, and salt. Unlike pancakes, crepes don’t have any leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder (check out this article for more info on leavening agents).
Crepes have other cousins as well such as a Swedish pancake (pannkakor), Norwegian pancake (pannekaker), blini, blintz, and dosa.
Crepes are filled with a layer of sweet or savory fillings then rolled up or folded into a triangle shape. I am personally partial to turkey, pesto, and mozzarella for a savory crepe and strawberries and Nutella in a sweet crepe.
How to Store Crepes
If not eaten immediately, crepes should be stored in the fridge. Crepes will stick together so put a piece of parchment paper between each crepe and store them in an airtight container. Crepes should last 5 days in the fridge. Crepe batter also lasts 2 to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
If you want to freeze your crepes, place a piece of parchment paper between the fully cooled crepes and store them in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Then pull out and allow to thaw in the fridge once ready to eat them. Crepes should last up to 2 months in the freezer.
When reheating your crepes, heat up a pan and place the crepe in the pan. Allow to sit about 30 seconds then flip the crepe and heat anther 15 to 20 seconds until warmed up. If your crepe has dried out, place a lid over the pan to keep the moisture in.
Common Crepe Issues (and how to fix them)
So why are crepes so hard to make? Crepes seem simple but many trying them for the first time find them difficult to make. They really need the right batter thickness and the right temperature to cook and brown properly. But it can be done! And you don’t need a crepe pan to do it. All you need is an 8″ or 10″ non-stick or heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan.
Why Are My Crepes Falling Apart?
This is one of the most common issues and there are several causes. The first is that your pan is too cold, so when you go to flip your crepe it will stick to the pan and tear when you go to flip it. You want your pan to be preheated to a medium heat before cooking your crepes.
If your crepes have holes the pan may be too hot and the batter is cooking before it can fully spread so try turning the heat down before cooking another crepe.
Another reason is that you may be flipping the crepe too soon. If the crepe hasn’t cooked long enough it won’t stick together and will break when you flip it. It takes about 1 minute to cook the first side of your crepe and it will appear slightly sticky looking on the uncooked side. You will also want a large spatula to support the crepe.
The last reason is if you are trying to use a stainless steel pan. Now, crepes can be made on stainless-steel pans but it is a little trickier. Make sure you are using a heavy-bottomed pan so it heats evenly. You will also need to grease the pan before each crepe to keep them from sticking to the pan and breaking.
Why Are My Crepes Sticking to the Pan?
The most common reason crepes stick to the pan is that your pan is either too hot or too cold. I know, I know, how do you figure out which one it is?
If you want to be extremely precise, you can use an infrared thermometer to check that your pan is 400°F (204°C). However, most of us do not have an infrared thermometer.
So, unfortunately, you are somewhat going to have to use your cooking instincts here, especially since every stovetop is different and medium heat will be to hot for one person and too cold for someone else. I recommend dropping just a little (quarter-sized) dot of batter on the pan. If it almost immediately is cooked through, your pan is too hot. If it sits there and isn’t cooking, your pan is too cold. If it cooks through in about 30 seconds, your pan is about the right temperature.
Now, if your pan is at the right temperature and your pan is non-stick (or a well-greased stainless steel) then you may have a recipe issue. If the recipe doesn’t have enough butter in it, that may be the cause of your sticking issues. In that case, you may slightly increase the butter in the recipe or try another recipe (I recommend my small-batch crepes).
Why are My Crepes Tough?
There are several reasons why crepes may be tough. Sometimes it is due to recipe issues or cooking issues.
If your recipe uses too much flour this causes too much gluten formation making your crepes tough (and you should always use white flour for crepes). Your recipe also may not have enough fat in it. The batter should be quite runny, even more so than for pancakes. If your batter is too thick, try decreasing the flour next time or add a little more milk and butter.
Another cause could be that your pan that is too cold. If the crepe takes too long to cook due to a cold pan it will end up too tough.
Why Aren’t My Crepes Browning?
While crepes do brown, don’t expect them to have a flat, golden brown surface like a pancake does. It will likely look a little lighter and more speckled. So don’t worry, as long as the edges are lightly browned and you have some speckles of brown you are doing just fine.
However, if your crepes are not browning, the most likely cause is that your pan is too cold. While crepes will still cook if the pan is too cold they will not brown properly. So try turning up the heat slightly to see if you get more browning.
If you have any other questions about crepes, let me know in the comments!