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A Fresh Look at Crepes

Brittany, France, is famous for buckwheat crepes filled with savory ingredients.
 Once you’ve mastered them, it’s easy to swap in other whole-grain flours.
By Published Feb. 4, 2020

My Goals and Discoveries

Tender, pliable crepes

A combination of buckwheat and all-purpose flours gives the crepes enough structure so that they are flexible for filling and eating but still maintain their distinctive flavor.

Nutty, well-rounded flavor

Buckwheat’s mineral-y edge can be sharp and bitter; increasing the amounts of butter and salt helps round out those flavors while highlighting the buckwheat’s nutty character.

Easy to make and fill

Instead of making four individual galettes complètes in a skillet, we prepare four at once on a baking sheet in the oven.

Brittany, France, is renowned for its crepes—but not only the lightly sweet, relatively neutral type that you might sprinkle with sugar or smear with jam. Galettes bretonnes are dark and savory, with a distinctive earthiness that makes them an integral part of a dish, not just an understated wrapper. That’s because they are made from rich, mineral‑y buckwheat, which thrives in the cool Breton climate. A galette complète is the classic preparation; it consists of a crepe glossed with salted butter and folded around salty‑nutty ham and Gruyère and an oozy egg.

Crepes are simply thin, unleavened pancakes, and after a bit of practice—our recipes yield two more crepes than are needed for the fillings—you’ll be able to cook them with confidence. They also keep beautifully, and a stash of savory crepes can be a secret weapon for a stylish meal in a hurry.

I suspected that simply swapping buckwheat for all-purpose flour in our sweet crepe recipe wouldn’t be exactly right, since buckwheat is unrelated to wheat and is gluten-free, but doing so would at least get the development process started. I whisked buckwheat flour together with salt (omitting the sugar), milk, eggs, and melted salted butter and then heated a nonstick skillet over low heat for 5 minutes. Thorough heating is imperative for even browning. I swirled 1⁄3 cup of batter around the pan to create a thin pancake, and when the surface was dry and the edges were browned, I loosened the sides with a rubber spatula and flipped the crepe with my fingertips to brown the second side.

With a little practice, it's easy to turn out a stack of perfectly cooked crepes.

Due to the lack of structure-forming gluten, these crepes had little flexibility and the dry fragility of burnt parchment. This explained why many recipes call for blending in some gluten-forming all-purpose flour. I followed suit, ultimately finding that a mixture with 75 percent buckwheat flour and 25 percent all-purpose flour yielded tender yet resilient crepes.

The all-purpose flour also helped balance the buckwheat’s robust flavor. But for some, its mineral‑y, bitter edge was still too strong, so I doubled the butter and salt, which made the crepes nutty and smooth.

Associate Editor Annie Petito takes notes on crepes made with different ratios of buckwheat to all-purpose flour.

Instead of building each galette complète individually in a skillet (the typical approach), I assembled four on a baking sheet and popped them into a hot oven.

With my galettes complètes complete, I saw an opportunity to experiment with other whole‑grain flours. Rye and whole‑wheat seemed ideal, since both have loads of character. And because these flours are gluten‑forming, I suspected that I might be able to use 100 percent rye flour or 100 percent whole‑wheat flour in my recipe. A few tests proved that I was correct; after adjusting the hydration levels, I was churning out stacks of big‑personality crepes—and fresh fillings to go with them.

The buckwheat, whole-wheat, and rye crepes each paired well with all the fillings I came up with, but I particularly like the rye crepes with a smoked salmon, pickled shallot, and caper-studded crème fraîche combo inspired by blini toppings. The earthy whole-wheat crepes are a lovely match for a rich mixture of cremini mushrooms and asparagus bound with cream and Pecorino Romano cheese; they are also terrific stuffed with garlicky sautéed cherry tomatoes and lemony ricotta cheese.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.