We are in the midst of the pancakes (crêpes in French) season before the start of Lent (for Christian believers). In France, we have crêpes twice. First on the 2nd of February to celebrate la fête de la Chandeleur which commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the temple. The French say: “Quand la Chandeleur est claire, l’hiver est par derriere; Chandeleur couverte quarante jours de perte” which more or less means: “If February 2nd is clear, no more winter to fear; if the Chandeleur is overcast, forty days winter to last.” But then they also say: “Soleil de la Chandeleur, annonce hiver et malheur” which is “A sunny Candlemas will bring winter and misfortune“. So you could choose whatever saying suits you!
The second time we have pancakes is during Mardi Gras which this year will fall on the 12th of February. It refers to the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. When I was younger and used to live in Paris, Parisians dreaded this particular day because it meant having eggs or flour thrown at them when walking down the streets! I do not know if this tradition is still alive but it was fun… If you were the thrower!
Crêpes are easy to make, require a few basic ingredients and are enjoyed by everybody. Well… I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like crêpes?!
Apart from those two special days, we have crêpes parties once in a while in our family. We put all kinds of toppings on the table from plain sugar to nutella to caramel sauce… For everybody to choose from. We also have apple juice for the children and good old cider for the adults as the best drinking accompaniment and I find it is actually one of the best cheering up thing to do during a long, cold and dark wintry day.
I usually double the ingredients from the following recipe as my boys are good eaters and a bit greedy!
- 250g flour
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbs melted butter (I melt it in the microwave)
- a pinch of salt
Mix the flour and salt together and add 250ml milk. Mix with a wooden spoon.
Add the eggs one by one or beat them first and add them to the flour mixture.
Add the melted butter.
Then add about 500ml milk little by little until you have a batter that is the consistency of slightly thick single cream.
Let it rest for about an hour (but I have heard to day on the French radio that there is no need for that).
Add a small glass of lager into the batter.
Heat a pan over a high heat, then wipe it with buttered kitchen paper.
Ladle some batter into the pan, tilting the pan to move the mixture around for a thin and even layer.
If the pan is the right temperature, the pancake should turn golden underneath after about 30 secs and will be ready to turn.
Hold the pan handle, ease a fish slice under the pancake, then quickly lift and flip it over. Cook for another 30 secs before turning out onto a warm plate.
Continue with the rest of the batter, serving them as you cook or stack onto a plate.