Crespes

Crepes

Crepes, a highly versatile base for many delicious modern dishes, has its origin in the Brittany region of France according to the he Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. The word "crepe", derived from the Latin word crispus,  translates to "curly" which is a notable characteristic of this flexible thin style pancake. The earliest reference I can find to the word in France is from the mid13th century in Le Tretiz  an Anglo-Norman poem written by Walter of Bibbesworth.

This recipe is from Le Ménagier de Paris, a 14th century French manuscript.

 

Original Recipe:

Crespes. Prenez de la fleur et destrempez d'œufs tant moyeux comme aubuns osté le germe, et le deffaites d'eaue, et y mettez du sel et du vin, et batez longuement ensemble : puis mettez du sain sur le feu en une petite paelle de fer, ou moitié sain ou moitié beurre frais, et faites fremier; et adonc aiez une escuelle percée d'un pertuis gros comme vostre petit doit, et adonc mettez de celle boulie dedans l'escuelle en commençant ou milieu, et laissiez filer tout autour de la paelle; puis mettez en un plat, et de la pouldre de succre dessus. Et que la paelle dessusdite de fer ou d'arain tiengne trois choppines, et ait le bort demy doy de hault, et soit aussi large ou dessus comme en bas, ne plus ne moins; et pour cause .

Translation: (by Janet Hinson)

Crepes. Take flour and mix with eggs both yolks and whites, but throw out the germ, and moisten with water, and add salt and wine, and beat together for a long time: then put some oil on the fire in a small iron skillet, or half oil and half fresh butter, and make it sizzle; and then have a bowl pierced with a hole about the size of your little finger, and then put some of the batter in the bowl beginning in the middle, and let it run out all around the pan; then put on a plate, and sprinkle powdered sugar on it. And let the iron or brass skillet hold three chopines, and the sides be half a finger tall, and let it be as broad at the bottom as at the top, neither more nor less; and for a reason.. 

My Translation

Crepes

The Recipe

As with many of the recipes found in manuscripts of the Middle Ages, this recipe does not provide specific proportions of the ingredients. A thin batter, like the one I provide in my interpretation of this recipe creates a dish similar to a modern crepe. A thicker batter cooked in more oil may result in a dish more like a funnel cake. The description of the skillet used in the recipe appears to be a skillet with narrow sides and little to no slanting. The pictures below are of a modern crepe skillet which also fits the description in the recipe as well as a reproduction of a skillet for Medievalists and a sketch of a skillet from the Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi . A funnel cake interpretation of the recipe would need a skillet with taller sides in order to allow the funnel cake to be deep fried. It is also possible to have an intepretation between these two types of recipes.

 Modern Crepe Skillet  Reproduction Crepe Skillet from Medieval Collectibles  Sketch of Skillet from Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi c. 1570
 
 
 

My Interpretation:

½ pound flour  ¾ cup white wine
2 eggs 1 cup water
½ tsp. salt Oil or Butter for frying
Powdered Sugar  

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, eggs, wine and water. Your batter will be thin, about the consistency of a extra heavy cream or melted ice cream. Let batter rest for at least 2 hours in a moderately warm location for the yeast present in the wine to start to feed on the starches in the batter. The liquids may separate partially during this time, and the batter may take on some properties similar to a bread sponge. Whisk the batter again just prior to cooking. Place skillet over medium heat and lubricate with oil and/or butter. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the bottom of the greased skillet (see image 1) and then tilt the skillet swirl the batter towards the edge while keeping the relative circular shape to the crepe (see image 2). When the excess moisture from the batter has evaporated (the batter won't run if you tilt the pan again) and the botton is light golden brown, flip the crepe with a spatula (see image 3). Continue to cook until both sides of the crepe are light brown (see image 4). Place crepe on serving dish and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

  • I prefer to use a non-stick skillet with canola oil for making these crepes. This will also allow for the crepe to be slid out of the pan onto a serving dish.
  • I also use a oil spray pump to give a light coating of oil to the skillet.
  • Without the powdered sugar these crepes are suitable for both savory and sweet applications.
  • Having allowed the yeast to feed on the starches in the batter provides and thin but flexible structure for the resulting crepe.
 Image 1  Image 2  Image 3  Image 4
 


 Batter initially in the pan  Batter swirled towards the edge of the pan  Crepe flipped over  Both sides of crepe cooked to a light golden brown.

Works Referenced: 

"Le Menagier De Paris." David D. Friedman's Home Page. Trans. Janet Hinson. Ed. Jerome Pichon, David D. Friedman, and Elizabeth Cook. David D. Friedman. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Menagier/Menagier.html. English translation of Le Menagier de Pris, a French household management manuscript dating from the late 14th century.

Albertano, Jean Bruyant, and Renault. Le Ménagier De Paris: Traité De Morale Et D'économie Domestique Composé Vers 1393. Vol. 2. Paris: Impr. De Crapelet, 1846. Le Ménagier De Paris: Traité De Morale Et D'économie Domestique Composé Vers 1393, Volume 2. Google Books, 15 Feb. 2007. Web. 22 Sept. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?id=KY4GAAAAQAAJ>. a treatise on morals and domestic economy composed about 1393, containing moral precepts, some historical facts, instructions on the art of running a house, information on the consumption of the King, the princes and the city of Paris at the end of the fourteenth

Scappi, Bartolomeo, and Michele Tramezzino. Opera Di M. Bartolomeo Scappi: Cuoco Secreto Di Papa Pio Quinto: Diuisa in Sei Libri.. Venecia: Michiel Tramezzino, 1570. Opera Di M. Bartolomeo Scappi, Cuoco Secreto Di Papa Pio V Diuisa in Sei Libri. Google Books, 17 Aug. 2007. Web. 22 Sept. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books/ucm?id=9VCtiKCegTUC>. 

"History of Crêpes." Blog post. Monique’s Crêpes. Monique’s Crêpes LLC, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2017. <http://www.moniquescrepes.com/a-brief-history-of-crepes/>.

"Crepes." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Ed. Andrew Smith. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. N.p.: OUP USA, 2013. 577-79. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Google Books. Web. 24 Sept. 2017. <https://books.google.com/books?id=DOJMAgAAQBAJ>.

Bibbesworth, Walter De. Le Tretiz. Ed. William Rothwell. N.p.: Aberystwyth, 2009. Le Tretiz. The Anglo-Norman Online Hub. Web. 24 Sept. 2017. <http://www.anglo-norman.net/texts/bibb-gt.pdf>. An Anglo-Norman poem written in the mid-13th century by Walter of Bibbesworth, addressed to Dionisie de Munchensi, with the aim of helping her to teach her children French, the language of the Norman aristocracy. It was a popular text in medieval England, and is a very early example of a book intended for reading to children.

"CRÊPE : Définition De CRÊPE." Outils Et Ressources Pour Un Traitement Optimisé De La LANGue. Centre National De Ressources Textuelles Et Lexicales, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2017. <http://www.cnrtl.fr/lexicographie/cr%C3%AApe/1>.