Crespes

Crepes

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

Original Recipe:

Crespes...

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.