Crêpes and France.
Delicate and substantive. Quality ingredient-forward, simple in composition. Quintessential French.
The crêpe I have enjoyed most frequently is one that involves the basics of a scrumptious breakfast, although I have typically enjoyed a crêpe for lunch. A Buckwheat Crêpe avec Prosciutto (or ham, for the traditional ingredient) and Gruyère with an egg sunny-side up at the center is what first introduced my tastebuds to this delicious French specialty.
If you have ever wanted to make your own crêpes but have been intimidated by the “flip”, let me assure you, you can do it. I too thought there would be no way to flip such a large “French pancake”. However, with the right equipment – nothing too fancy and the proper thickness of batter, you will be successful.
But first, the recipe. When I came across this article in March, having more time at home to explore recipes I had already been curious to try, I decided to give crêpes a-go. Initially what drew me to the article was who the article was about – the founder and owner of Kerzon candles – Pierre-Alexis Delaplace.
You may remember last year I spotlighted my favorite French candles, and one of the brands I always have in my candle cupboard and somewhere in the house ready to be enjoyed are Kerzon candles. Specifically, my favorite is their Parc des buttes-Chaumont, part of their Flâneries collection with each candle named after a favorite location those who walk about Paris likely will wander to.
Upon reading the article in which Delaplace shared a favorite family recipe for a buckwheat crêpe, I cooked my own and was delighted. I reached out to thank him, and he responded. I was beyond surprised, and grateful for his time.
I recommend Kerzon’s candles highly. They are well priced and a quality French candle, and ship internationally without an exorbitant shipping fee.
Now, back to the crêpe.
Did you know that buckwheat is actually not a grain, but actually a seed from a plant related to rhubarb? AND, buckwheat is gluten-free? Yep! While that may make you think the batter would be difficult to work with, the addition of a little bit of whole wheat flour in this recipe (you can also substitute all-purpose flour), makes it more malleable, yet strong as well.
The buckwheat crêpe’s origin is Brittany, and they are more familiarly called galettes de sarrasin in France. Adding the egg, cheese and ham is what makes this a meal. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Pair with a simple salad mixed with greens from the garden such as edible flowers (nasturtiums are seen here), and you will satiate your palate.
I share in the recipe that the pan I now use is a traditional crêpe pan from Staub (seen just below), and while you can use a traditional cast-iron or non-stick skillet, choosing a pan that has the low or nearly non-existent sides is what makes the flipping far more successful. However, I will share, this is a very heavy pan. But coming already pre-seasoned, nothing stuck and it worked extremely well. The crêpe spatula made a worthwhile difference to easily check to see if the crêpe was done and then flip without a problem.
Other tools I recommend adding to your batterie de cuisine are the trowel spreader and again, I highly recommend a classic crêpe spatula which is narrow, but not entirely narrow, and has a beveled edge all the way around to make it easier to place under the crepe without breaking it.
Staub’s crepe pan with spatula and trowel (reduced 50%)
Budget find & highly recommended, de Buyer Crêpe pan
Now to the recipe!
Below are the ingredients, and as you can see, there is nothing too fancy about it. You can up the special ingredient factor by choosing to use prosciutto, but ham will work just as well, and swiss cheese (although technically Gruyère is swiss cheese) would work if you don’t have access to Gruyère. Also, I used whole milk, but 1% or 2% would make the batter a bit finer, so make to your tastes and flipping talents. 🙂
I do hope you enjoy this simple, yet special French dish.
Buckwheat Crepe with Prosciutto, Egg & Gruyère
- 7 ounces buckwheat flour
- 1 ounce whole wheat flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 egg large
- pinch fleur de sel
- salted French butter
- prosciutto, a thin slice torn apart for each crêpe finely slicked (ham is a good substitute)
- Gruyère (a small sprinkling for each crêpe) grated
- Combine both flours, the egg and milk into a blender. Using a blender will make sure there are no lumps. The batter should have the viscosity of cream, but not the thickness of waffle/pancake batter.
- Any skillet that is 8-10" in width that is seasoned will work. I have used a traditional cast-iron pan, and while it can work, the tall sides makes it difficult for flipping, but it is possible. I then used a traditional crepe pan, and it was far easier to flip with a crepe spatula without fail.
- Over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of French salted butter, then pour 1/4 of the batter onto the pan. Using a crepe trowel spreader, spread the batter over the pan to the edges. I should be just enough to cover the pan, but not be thick. If you need to add more batter to fill in gaps, go for it. All will be well.
- Cook until the crepe is brown and slightly charred. Then with your spatula – a long semi-narrow one works best. Put the spatula under the middle of the crepe (the crepe will be folding down on both sides, add more butter to the pan to create a nice brown finish on the second side and carefully flip. If the crepe is well-browned on the first side, it will hold together well. There is no need to get fancy and flip carelessly or quickly.
- Now that the crepe is cooking the second side, add an egg to the middle of the crêpe, sprinkle a small handful of gruyére and pieces of prosciutto.
- Cook the crêpe until the egg is cooked to your liking. If the crêpe is getting too brown and the egg is not cooked yet, fold up the sides to form a square, framing the egg in the middle. Place a lid over the top of the crêpe to more quickly cook the egg.
- Place the crêpe onto a dish and serve!