This is just a recipe for crêpes – I promise you don’t have to stack them, smeared with lemon curd and cream (above) or Nutella and stacked into a cake unless you want to. I consider crêpes an essential thing to know how to make – there is nothing like standing at the stove, rhythmically pouring and tilting batter in the bottom of a hot pan, then spreading hot crêpes with butter, sprinkling them with brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon, rolling them up and doling them out, to make everything feel right in the world on a weekend morning. (Lately I’ve been eating mine with large spoonfuls of cold stewed rhubarb and a blop of plain yogurt.) Everyone should know how to make a batch of crêpes, and not be intimidated by the process – the best way to learn is to practice, to get a feel for quickly tilting the pan to cover the bottom with batter as it cooks. And even those too-thick or wonky ones still taste delicious, so there’s really no risk involved in learning, is there? It’s a good thing to learn early and grow up with, I think.
Traditionally, crêpe batter is whisked in a bowl or blended in a blender to the consistency of heavy cream, then allowed to sit for an hour or three, or even refrigerated overnight to allow the flour to swell ever so slightly in the milk and egg, making the batter more uniform. This is not a big deal, but would be infinitely more convenient if my blender actually fit in my fridge.
But then one day Vitamix asked if I’d like to take one of their Legacy Series machines for a spin (pun totally intended), and the box arrived with two personal cup adaptors – small, smoothie-sized containers that screw onto the top to blend smaller quantities of ingredients, like pesto or green chutney – and it occurred to me that it would be perfect for a batch of crêpe batter, and be easy to stash in the fridge overnight.
Even better: the flip top lid makes it easy to pour the batter cleanly into your pan, without having to juggle a dripping ladle or pour straight from the mixing bowl, which can make it doubly awkward. Two weekends in a row I mixed up a batch of batter in the evening, which took as much time as making a smoothie, and W and I made crêpes in the morning without any prep at all. The only problem with this scenario is it’s becoming a habit.
People always ask if I have a Vitamix, or assume I do – and although I’ve played with them in other kitchens, I’ve never had one in my own kitchen until now. I’ve always had blenders I’m relatively content with, despite having to constantly open the top and scrape down the sides, but now that I think of it, I’ve gone through several – this Vitamix seems solid enough that it’s going to stick around awhile. And so far, it has been able to evenly and effortlessly blend everything I toss in. Huzzah! Bonus: they seem to be about half the price they used to be last time I was pining for one.
If you want to do a crêpe cake, and I strongly suggest it once you get a handle on the crêpes themselves, double up the recipe (you’ll need the full blender attachment – the smoothie-sized cups are perfect for just a few of us in the morning), make sure the crêpes are completely cool (you can make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready), and spread them with chocolate mousse or something like berry puree, lemon curd or Nutella folded into whipped cream, stacking as you go. The mixture should be lighter than traditional buttercream, making it easier to spread without tearing. The beauty of a crêpe cake, besides it simply being a crêpe cake, is that a) you can serve it for breakfast, and b) don’t need to frost the stack of layers – simply sprinkle it with icing sugar, adding a pile of fresh berries on top first, if you like.