Let’s talk about buckwheat crêpes.

I’ve blogged about crêpes before, but I am not going to apologise for writing about them again, because I love a stuffed crêpe. Crêpes are pancakes and these ones are made with a mixture of buckwheat and plain flours. I suppose that strictly speaking they should be called galettes de blé noir, which is what they would be described as in Brittany. Farine de blé noir, also known as Farine de Sarrasin is buckwheat flour. Buckwheat isn’t actually a variety of wheat, neither is it a grass. It is most closely related to plants such as sorrel and rhubarb. Anyway, farine de blé noir is what is used in Brittany, and in other parts of France, to make the kind of crêpes that have a savoury filling.

I tend to use a mixture of buckwheat flour and plain flour in my batter because I think that it makes a more pliable end product, which is important if you are going to roll up your crêpes. I work on the basis of two parts to one in favour of the buckwheat flour.

I use measuring cups but you can also use tablespoons to measure out the flours. To complete the batter I use two beaten eggs, a flat teaspoon of salt, milk and water. It is hard to generalise about how much liquid you need. It really all depends on how large your eggs are and how much liquid is required to make a batter about the same consistency as double cream. Once it is all beaten together, I let it rest for an hour or so and beat it again before making the crêpes. These are best done in a proper crêpe pan with low sides, which helps when you want to flip them over. Personally, I always avoid that whole “tossing the pancake” thing. I don’t want the hob splattered with pieces of  half-cooked crêpe. You can use a spatula or a palette knife, but I have a wooden spatula specially made for turning crêpes that I bought in a French supermarket for about 3€. It looks pretty much like this. You might be able buy them in the UK from kitchen equipment shops.

Once you have made your crêpes you can keep them in the fridge, wrapped in greaseproof paper until required. The important thing is to make them thin. You do not want thick, stodgy ones.

As anyone who has eaten traditional galettes or crêpes in a crêperie in Brittany knows, they are usually served flat, with the filling on top and with the sides folded over. However, they are also served stuffed, rolled and gratinated. much as the Italians serve crespelle. This, I think, is a much better way to serve them at home as a main course.

I like them with béchamel sauce and grated cheese on top, baked until golden, and my favourite filling is definitely a mushroom, shallot and parsley one, basically a duxelles mixture. If you have some, you can add truffle-infused olive oil to the mixture. Actual truffles would be even more luxurious and some soaked and drained dried cèpes would be good too. Last night, I added some amontillado sherry to the mushroom mixture as it cooked. You need to ensure that the filling is quite dry, so cook it out over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes, taking care that it doesn’t burn.

All you really need with a dish like this is a salad. The one I made last night was a simple lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Cider is the traditional Breton drink to go with crêpes, and you can buy Normandy ciders in many shops in the UK these days, or you could drink a traditional cider from an English producer. There are great ciders produced in my part of the world, here in the south-west.

However, wine also works. I think that Pinot Noir and mushrooms is a great partnership, so for me a bottle of red Burgundy is an ideal wine to serve.


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