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Are you a crêpe expert? All the secrets of the Breton crêpe

Ti sentirai accalappiare sul pancake?

Crêpes – or pancakes – are THE national dish of Brittany. Whether you’re in a crêpe restaurant or just eating one in your hand as you stroll through the market, a hot, soft pancake is always delicious. It’s one of those little holiday pleasures.

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Crêpes or galettes?

This simple, age-old recipe is part of Brittany’s distinct identity. But woe betide anyone who confuses a crêpe with a galette! In Lower Brittany crêpes are made with either wheat flour or buckwheat (sometimes still called sarrasin), but in Upper Brittany the buckwheat pancake is savoury and called a galette.  After that it all depends on the thickness of the batter, the mixing of the flour, the cook’s know-how and some very well-kept secrets. In this respect, you could say that everyone has the best recipe. But Brittany has the best! The blinis, pancakes and crumpets you find in other countries are distant cousins.

Everyone has their own favourite crêpe

Although the simplest version – the well-known butter and sugar formula – is the best way to test the quality of the batter, you can add lots of different sweet flavourings to crêpes. They’re delicious when spread with the divine salted caramel or jam. There’s also a variant of the crêpe: the gavotte. In 1886, following a mistake in the kitchen, a crêpe was left on the bilig (the crêpe griddle), resulting in the birth of the ‘crêpe dentelle’. This crêpe, which is cooked for a long time and then rolled up 8 times round a spatula, is still the jewel in the crown of the Loc Maria biscuit company.

Bilig, rozell … the right tools for a master crêpe maker

Every self-respecting skill has its own vocabulary. When it comes to crêpes, the equipment is a serious subject! Here’s a little glossary for beginners:

  • The bilig, also known as a crêpière, a tuile, a galettoire or a galettière is the cast-iron griddle on which crêpes are made. The term bilig refers to the brand invented by the Breton company Krampouz.
  • The rozell is the T-shaped rake that allows you to spread the batter. It’s a good idea to do a few test-runs first to be sure you’ve got the technique of spreading all the batter in one go!
  • The spanell, made of wood or metal, is the spatula (also known as a rouable) used for turning over the crêpes. Its length depends on the size of the bilig.

Following the example of pizza makers, master crêpe makers now have their own schools where they can learn the skills and promote their craft.

Video recipe

Eggs, flour, milk. Leave it to rest, a bit of dexterity and that’s all there is to it! Watch a video showing how to make crêpes with tips from a master crêpe maker from the School of Master Crêpe Makers in Rennes.


Crêpes and festivals

On 2 February, 40 days after Christmas, we celebrate Candlemas, a day that puts crêpes in the spotlight. According to Christian tradition, this practice refers to the distribution of crêpes to pilgrims arriving in Rome. According to pagan legend, the crêpe also symbolises the sun and the return of springtime. On the last weekend in July, there’s a Crêpe Festival in Gourin, a ‘Krampouz Party’ attended by food lovers and other spectators and involving a competition for the world’s largest crêpe. There’s also the Mahalon Festival of the Unusual in Finistère, where the aim every year is to try to break the world crêpe-throwing record.

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