Brittany is a fantasy land of crêpes. My family and I would spend a week of vacation there every year, often in Carnac. We would eat crêpes every single night, to the sparkly-eyed delight of my sister and myself. Over time we built an entire itinerary of favorite crêperies to visit.
In Brittany, savory crêpes are made with buckwheat flour and are called “galettes de sarrasin” (or “crêpes de sarrasin”), whereas sweet crêpes are made with wheat flour and are referred to as “crêpes de froment”.
Traditional buckwheat galettes are made with just buckwheat flour, salt, and water, and they are cooked them on a billig, a wide, round cooking surface made of cast iron, completely flat with no rim. But 100% buckwheat crêpes are next to impossible to cook in a regular skillet on the stovetop (believe me, I’ve tried) so the recipe I’m sharing today is one that’s adapted for the home kitchen.
You can include whatever fillings tickle your fancy, but the most traditional (and, in my opinion, best) combo is la complète, garnished with a fried egg, cooked ham and grated cheese (usually gruyère or comté). At crêperies I like to order a complète with fresh tomatoes (in summer) or cooked mushrooms (the rest of the year).
If you’re hosting a crêpe party, it’s fun to prepare different kinds of fillings — cheese, ham, grated cheese, goat cheese, cooked leeks, cooked mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, smoked fish — and let each guest compose his or her own galette.
For dessert, a buckwheat and chocolate crêpe is a treat you won’t soon forget.
And of course, serve them all with bowls of hard apple cider or buttermilk (lait ribot), as they do in Brittany!
- 200 grams (7 ounces) buckwheat flour
- 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 500 ml (1/2 quart) milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- 500 ml (1/2 quart) water
- cooking oil
- the fillings of your choice (see post for suggestions)
- Put the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl and dig a little well in the center. Break the eggs into the well, and whisk them gradually into the flour in a circular motion. Pour the milk in slowly, whisking all the while. Add the water, still whisking.
- Cover and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours; overnight is best.
- Take the batter out of the fridge and prepare all the fillings beforehand. Whisk the galette batter again, as some of the flour will have settled at the bottom of the bowl.
- If you're making several galettes in a row, preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). This is where you'll keep the galettes warm while you make the others.
- Heat up a large skillet over high heat and pour a little oil in a small bowl. When the pan is very hot, dip a folded paper towel into the oil and use it to (very cautiously) apply a sheen of oil on the surface of the skillet. Pour a ladleful of batter in the skillet, and swirl the skillet around so that the batter spreads out in a nice, even circle. Let cook on medium-high heat for 2 minutes, peeking underneath with a spatula from time to time to check on the cooking.
- Flip the galette when it's nicely golden underneath, cautiously or brazenly depending on your self-assurance. Put the fillings of your choice in the center of the galette. If using an egg, break it cautiously and gently maintain the yolk in the center with the eggshell or your spatula until the white has set enough to hold it in place.
- When the other side of the galette is nice and golden too, fold it as best you can: the traditional way is to fold the four sides in and make a square galette, but when there's a lot of filling and the galette isn't very big that's a little difficult, so just fold two sides in. Oil the pan again before cooking the next crêpe.
- Put the galette in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet and into the oven to keep warm while you make the others. Serve with a green salad and liberal amounts of cidre brut, an alcoholic apple cider from Brittany.