For some reason this was a tricky introduction to write. This is probably because there are just so many things I love about French Buckwheat crepes that I was not sure where to start. They are one of those foods I will make again and again because they are delicious, versatile, healthy and quick. If you're after a balanced and utterly yummy one-pan breakfast or lunch that you can throw together in 10-minutes these are for you.
My love for French Buckwheat Crepes began in my childhood. On a family holiday in Brittany, I was delighted to discover that pancakes could be a main course as well as a desert. Every day I'd order a savoury buckwheat crepe for lunch followed by a sweet crepe for dessert. When the holiday ended I really missed French crepes and for years they were something of an enigma. For some reason, I assumed they would be really hard to make and that they were something I could only eat in France. Fortunately, I was very wrong. It turned out all I needed was buckwheat flour and a few simple ingredients that were already sitting in the pantry to recreate the French buckwheat crepe experience at home.
- Buckwheat flour - used in traditional savoury French crepes and has a nutty and earthy taste.
- Eggs, Milk, water - to form the batter.
- Nutmeg - this is optional, but I find its flavour blends superbly well with the nutty buckwheat flour.
- Melted butter - adds richness to the batter.
I have used spinach, egg and hard cheese in this recipe, but there are many options. You can add ham or try adding mushrooms or other veggies.
- Spinach - baby spinach or normal cooking spinach both work well. Make sure you wash them first.
- Cheese - I use Gruyère when I can find it, but a lot of hard cheeses will work well. I have used Comté and ordinary cheddar so feel free to use what you have in your fridge.
- Egg - any eggs are fine, but I recommend a high-quality organic egg with a rich yolk if possible. I'm a big fan of Clarence Court's Burford Browns because their yolks are super-rich and flavourful.
How to make easy French buckwheat Crepes:
1. Prepare the crepe batter at least 1 hour ahead
Place all the crepe batter ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. You can do this with an electric whisk or by hand. Refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour. This gives the flour time to be fully absorbed into the batter and improves the texture and flavour of the crepe. Don't worry too much if you run out of time to do this. The crepes will still turn out fine.
2. Cook the crepes
Place your frying pan on a medium to high heat and add one teaspoon of butter. When the butter is melted and the pan is hot pour in just enough of the batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Note, the thinner the crepe the better so try to avoid putting in too much batter. I use a little more than 1 ladle in my 28cm crepe pan.
When the batter is set crack the raw egg straight into the pan. Use a slotted turner to gently adjust the position of the egg if it is not in the middle of the pan and to gently spread the white across the pan. Be careful not to break the yolk at this point. Add spinach and cheese so they surround the egg. Add a little pinch of sea salt onto the egg yolk and season the crepe fillings with nutmeg and ground black pepper.
3. Crisp up and fold
It can take between 5 to 7 minutes for the egg to set. When the white becomes opaque increase the heat of the pan to high until the pancake is brown and crisp. When you see the sides start to brown slightly it's time to fold the sides of the crepe in. You can also use a turner to gently lift the sides and check their doneness. When the pancake is crisp fold each side into the middle of the crepe. The egg should be visible once this is done with no more than 2 inches of sides folded inwards. Serve the finished crepe immediately and repeat the process for the other crepes.
How to serve French Buckwheat Crepes
Spinach, egg and hard cheese are the fillings I have chosen for this recipe, but there are many options when it comes to crepe fillings. Other suggestions include ham, mushrooms and smoked salmon.
I consider one of these crepes a meal in itself and will eat them for breakfast or lunch.
Tools and equipment
- Mixing bowl - for making the batter and storing it in the fridge.
- Whisk or electric whisk - for mixing the batter. Use an electric whisk if you have one but you can whisk the batter by hand if you don't.
- Jug - purely optional, but I often pour the batter into a jug after I make it because I like to pour the batter straight onto the pan.
- Frying pan or crepe pan - if you make crepes and pancakes a lot a crepe pan is a really good investment. I just purchased one and would not be without it now. However, it's certainly a nice-to-have and not a necessity. A large flat bottomed frying pan will do the job nicely. Try to use one that's 24cm or more.
- Turner or crepe spatula - for folding in the sides of the crepe
- Cheese grater
5 top tips for perfect French Buckwheat Crepes
- Refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour before cooking - the crepes will still work out fine even if you don't do this, but I've tried this recipe with both rested and non-rested batter and did find there was a noticeable improvement in the texture and the flavour of the crepe when the batter was rested.
- Get the pan hot before adding the batter - the butter should be sizzling and the pan should have come to heat before you add the batter to prevent it from sticking.
- Avoid adding too much batter to the pan - crepes should be thin and crispy so add just enough batter to cover the pan.
- Cook the crepes on a medium heat - the egg can take a few minutes to set and you don't want to burn the base of the crepes in the process.
- Ensure crepes are crisp before you serve - if the crepe isn't quite done once the egg is set, increase the heat of the pan until the edges are crisp and slightly brown before serving.
The batter will keep in the fridge for 2 to 4 days. Mix thoroughly again before you use it in case any lumps have formed. The batter might also thicken over time. Add some water to thin it out a little if it seems too thick when you come to use it.
You can freeze the cooked crepes for up to 3 months. It's also possible to freeze the batter, but it's not something I've ever bothered doing as it's so quick to make a fresh batch.
Certainly, buckwheat is high in antioxidants, minerals and fibre. It's also gluten-free.