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Our easy, family recipe for French pancakes, classic ultra thin crêpes that are best served for breakfast, teatime or dessert.  Either rolled or folded, serve on their own with just a squeeze of lemon or with a whole range of classic toppings – see all the possible ideas.

making thin crepe pancakes

How are Crêpes Different from Pancakes?

We love pancakes in our house – especially French pancakes or crêpes, particularly for breakfast or a lazy weekend brunch. Unlike thick, fluffy American or British style pancakes, these are the ultra thin crêpes, almost wafer-like, that are more popular in France.  Moreover, we don’t just enjoy them to celebrate Mardi Gras, but at any time of year.

To compromise with the thicker pancakes, I’ll make Corsican style Scotch Pancakes using chestnut flour for my Corsican husband.  These Scotch pancakes are a married mix of Scotland and Corsica so I recommend you also try the recipe, also known as Drop Scones – perfect for breakfast or teatime, spread with butter or jam.

thick pancake rounds on a hot pan turning out on to a tea towel

What are the Main Pancake Traditions in France?

The French not only celebrate Mardi Gras (Shrove or Fat Tuesday) with these thin pancakes, but they also traditionally flip them during La Chandeleur (Candlemass), which marks the halfway point between the shortest day and spring Equinox in February.

Tradition has it that if you manage to catch the pancake by holding a coin in your writing hand whilst flipping the pancake with the other, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.

The French flip pancakes at any time of year, however – we don’t need to wait to celebrate pancake day. It can be any day!

thin crepe pancakes stacked on a plate

How to Serve

How do we eat crêpes in France? If served in a crêperie in France, sweet crêpes are normally flat, topped with ice cream, Chantilly cream and with any of the toppings mentioned below. Conversely, at home or at crêpe stalls around Paris, crêpes are normally folded or rolled for ease of enjoying them with the least amount of mess.

Our family normally loves plain and simple sugar sprinkled on them with a squeeze of lemon. The simple is often best.

Here are a few other classic topping suggestions:

So what will it be chez vous? Are you a roller or a folder and what are your favourite toppings?

making thin crepe pancakes from the book, Teatime in Paris

How to Make Crêpes (French pancakes)

The full step-by-step recipe for Orange Crêpes, Suzette Style, is in my second recipe book, Teatime in Paris. With many thanks to my publisher, Waverley Books, for permission to share this recipe from the book. With only 4 main ingredients – butter, flour, eggs and milk (with a little sugar), this crêpe recipe is so quick to make.

thin crepe pancakes stacked on a plate
5 from 1 vote

French Pancakes (Crêpes)

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course : Breakfast, Dessert, teatime
Cuisine : French
Keyword : crepes, skinny crepes, french crepes recipe
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 423kcal

Description

Easy recipe for French crêpes, best eaten for breakfast or for goûter (teatime) with sugar and lemon or with any of the classic toppings like jam, chestnut or chocolate spread, or salted caramel sauce. For dessert or teatime, serve with cidre.

Ingredients

  • 40 g (1.5oz) butter melted
  • 250 g (9oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (fleur de sel)
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 medium eggs organic
  • 500 ml (18fl oz) whole milk (or semi-skimmed for skinny crepes)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon or orange zest optional

Instructions

  • Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl and add the salt. Make a well in the middle and break the eggs into it.
  • Add about a quarter of the milk and, using a hand whisk, beat the mixture well until you have a smooth, thick paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk. (this ensures no lumps).
  • Add the melted butter and zest, if using. Leave to rest for about half an hour at room temperature (this is for the gluten to expand in the mix, making the batter lighter, although it's not essential in this recipe). The mix will look quite runny but this is perfectly normal.
  • Ladle one small quantity of the batter into a very hot crêpe pan that has been wiped with butter on kitchen paper. Swirl the batter around the pan quickly, as thinly as possible, covering the surface of the pan. Cook over a medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes until bubbles form on the surface. Using a spatula or your fingertips, quickly flip the crêpe over and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Turn down the heat slightly (but still at medium) and repeat the process, topping up with wiping of butter in the pan, until you have about 12 crêpes (depending on pan size), stacking them aside on a large plate.

Notes

Flour: if you use farine fluide ('type 45' thinner flour), there is no need to sift the flour.
Keep the crêpes warm by stacking them on a plate and cover with an inverted plate on top. 
Heard that the first crêpe not so good? Not so! Just keep the pan extra hot for the first one, then turn the heat down to medium-high for the rest.
Chocolate Crêpes: for chocolate crêpes, add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the flour in step one.
Makes 12 crêpes, so for 3 each is 423 calories per serving.

This was a blog post originally published on 17 February 2012 but is now completely updated to include the recipe from my cookbook, Teatime in Paris, with kind permission from Waverley Books.

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Comments (46)

5 stars
Amazing recipe – never had even the first crepe come out so perfect!

Thanks, Sandrine. Appreciate your kind words.

We made paczki’s for mardi gras. About 10 different kinds. It was kind of overkill. Yet I am making more tomorrow. Lol. I need to visit you girl. How cool is it there are bike crepes.

I need to visit you to try your paczkis. And we can still even have them on a bike, Kim.

Ooh, crepes, definitely! I am always amazed at how good the crepes from the street vendors in France are. Grand marnier crepes are my particular favorite.

Now you’re talking! 🙂


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