Art of the Batter
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
One of my very favorite places that is always on my itineraries for Paris is on Rue du Montparnasse, La Crêperie de Josselin. It’s about a one minute walk from Montparnasse station. Josselin makes crêpes as close and authentic to the ones found in Brittany and the atmosphere is old world charming. I love the consistency here of food and family, along with the same staff for dozens of years.
So now, I’m off to Saint Malo to perfect my crêpe-making techniques to enhance my shaky French cooking skills. Yes, you remember the Crepe Suzette from the days of Julia Child on the French Chef in the 70’s. The essential difference between the crepe and the galette is that the galette is made with buckwheat flour where the crepe is just made from wheat flour. But the Gallic pancake that I want to learn is a touch thicker and is a great palate for many savory main courses.
To become an amateur crêpe-maker I was assigned a billig (traditional cast iron griddle) with the rateau (the long T shaped scraper) and the long, flat spatula for flipping the cooked disk. I joined an introductory cooking class at Bertrand Larcher’s Atelier de la Crepe. Our 4-hour hands-on class combined theory and practice making galettes.
First the batter, one kilo of buckwheat flour, 30gr of local sea salt, and one egg, whip. Yes, whip, really whip! Our teacher’s arm was better than any Kitchen Aid on high as she whipped with her hand. It was most impressive. Then it needs to rest overnight (as would my hand).
Once we gathered a well-rested batter and heated our billig it was time. My teacher was Japanese and she made a graceful arc – swish – swirl and flip. Thirty seconds later a picture perfect round galette was delivered to the plate. I scooped out my ladleful and swished on the griddle, mine was more like a halting circular motion and a flop! Obviously, I missed the hip action that delivers. I definitely needed help. Not so easy- that was for sure perhaps another 200 would have yielded one like hers.
At the end of class, we gathered around the tables to sample the galettes. Okay, so not mine per say. We tried the local cidre with the traditional ham, Gruyère cheese, and a fried egg which melds the flavors together with the nutty earthy buckwheat. Perfection, no wonder it is a “classic”. Followed by the creamy scallop and leek filling in another. The last was of course, with salted caramel and ice cream. No Crepe Suzettes here!
FOR THE GALETTES:
· 3 large eggs
· 1 ¼ cups/150 grams buckwheat flour
· ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
In a large bowl, whisk 3 eggs with 1 cup water until frothy and uniform. Sift in buckwheat flour, and whisk until as smooth as a new can of paint. Season with salt and whisk to combine. Cover batter and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours). Heat up your billig! You can also use them a sandwich wraps, triangular hor d’ouerves, blinis, and buckwheat 'roulés'. Endless possibilities.
Atelier de la Crêpe - 25 quai Duguay-Trouin, Saint-Malo