A good few months ago, I started to dabble with making savoury crepes which had a real flavour irrespective of any additional toppings or fillings, which is often the case. I mean, there cannot be too many folk who crave plain pancakes…. or are there? I certainly missed the boat insofar as getting this recipe published for Shrove Tuesday – that was the original intention. Secondly, I wanted to end up with a crepes which was not so heavy or stodgy (as I often find to be the case) which would make for a perfect weekend brunch, and still leave us with the desire to get off the chair and do something active and productive. Even on our limited time off!
As ever, time and availability have not been on my side. Since my last recipe, I wish I could account for the last few months, other then just hectic with work, a couple of onerous DIY projects, a much deserved holiday in the fantastic Pirin National Park in Bulgaria, and the simple realisation that I needed time away from a computer screen (as the day job demands plenty of use). Cooking is, and will remain my absolute passion in life – getting ideas onto paper (or screen) is becoming my barrier. Roll on retirement when I will be crying out for things to fill my time ;o)
When experimenting with recipes, I always start with a baseline which, once tested a couple of times gives me the confidence that the texture (at the very least) will be the desired result. Crepes is a prime example and getting the ratio of dry to wet ingredients (to put it simply) will result in either success, or at one end of the spectrum, gloop, the other something closer to a limp biscuit. When researching ( as I always do) I was a little disappointed to struggle to find a really flavoursome combination of ingredients which for just the crepe itself has really good taste on its own merit. Thus, the journey began. We must have made ten iterations of this, each time throwing in a new ingredient to get where we wanted to be.
The final attempt followed our discovery of Aleppo Pepper, a fantastic ingredient discovered when watching a Nigella Turkish Egg recipe. Since then, it is my ‘go to answer’ to nearly everything. I think I am officially hooked. Therapy may be required. I have to now consciously not throw this in everything I cobble together. Aleppo pepper – where have you been my whole life? Aleppo pepper, named after the now war-torn Syrian region of Aleppo, originates from the burgundy coloured chilli also called the Halaby pepper. Now primarily sourced from Turkey, the coarsely ground Aleppo pepper is half as hot as more traditional chilli flakes, but outperforms in the flavour department. The other ingredient I depend on is Dijon mustard. Let’s be clear, this is not the same as that sweet, awful brown gunk from the US called ‘French Mustard’. The latter should be banned in my view.
Reverting to my earlier point, I wanted to have a crepe which was quite light and not the typical stodgy texture I have experienced in the past. I have purposefully scaled down the amount of oil used helped with a non-stick pan of course).
Confession time: I had originally written this up as a pancake recipe, then after a bit of due diligence discovered that there was a difference between pancake, and crepe. It is as follows: pancakes contain a raising agent (such as baking powder/soda) resulting in a thicker and fluffier texture. Crepes, in contrast are thin and flat.
The second thing I learned is why the first crepe from the batch always fails in the beauty contest compared to the others. If interested as to what causes this, and what may reduce this, I recommend the following article from Delish.com. The abbreviated answer is: maintain a cooking temperature of: 175-182 degrees Celsius, and wipe down excess oil using paper towel. There you have it!
I really hope you find the time (no pun intended) to give our: Savoury Thyme, Aleppo Pepper and Cheddar Crepes a go. As ever, if you do not have all the ingredients at hand… experiment and substitute with something else. We do the same. Whist we think strong vintage cheddar is the best to grate on top, it works really well with Parmesan. Or a combination. Or whatever else you may have at hand.
- 2 large free range eggs
- 140 ml semi skimmed milk
- 70g strong white flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon olive plus more for cooking
- 1 heaped teaspoon aleppo pepper
- 1 tsp freshly ground sea salt
- 1 heaped teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 heaped teaspoon fresh lemon Thyme, leaves separated from stem
- 20g strong cheddar
- First, sift the flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Next, add the Aleppo pepper, salt, and Thyme leaves, then combine well using a bell whisk.
- Then, create a well in the centre, and add the milk, break in the eggs, followed by a heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil then whisk until a smooth batter is formed, and any lumps removed. Set the batter aside.
- Bring a large non-stick frying pan to approximately 175C, then add 1 tbsp light olive oil, swirl in the pan, then wipe across the bottom of the pan using kitchen paper.
- Whisk the batter one more time, then take ladle in one quarter of the mix into the centre of the pan. Using the back of the ladle, spread the batter until it is thinned out and circular in shape.
- Cook the crepe for around 45 seconds, then flip over and repeat.
- Transfer the crepe from the pan onto a plate, then cook the remaining three crepes.
- Roll up each crepe and position them side by side. Then, take a microplane or fine cheese grater and grate the cheddar cheese over the pancakes.
- Finally, melt the cheese using a chef's torch, or alternatively place under a grill until the cheese starts to bubble.
- Serve immediately.