La Chandeleur: Day of Crêpes
Like many French holidays, la Chandeleur has its origins in a mix of pagan and Catholic traditions. Occurring 40 days after Christmas on Feb. 2, the name comes from a French word for candle (chandelle) and, for Christians, corresponds to the presentation of Christ at the temple of Jerusalem and the recognition of him as being “the light of the world.” In the pagan tradition, it was associated with hope for a happy ending to long, cold winters.
Today, it is more broadly (and deliciously) known as the day of crêpes. On this day, French families gather together to prepare homemade crêpes (salty and sweet) as the main meal. But there is a catch (literally!): You must flip your crêpe in the pan as you prepare it. If the crêpe lands back in the pan successfully, you will have good luck for the rest of the year!
Simple to make, tasty to eat, and customizable with an endless array of fillings, crêpes are enjoyable for every level of cooking ability and taste. Traditionally, salty crêpes are made with buckwheat flour (and are thus naturally gluten free), while sweet crêpes are made with wheat flour, but no hard and fast rules apply – part of the charm of crêpes is their versatility.
Below are some filling suggestions and recipes (traditional, gluten free, vegan) for the perfect crêpe dinner. Links to the original French recipes are included at the bottom of each, for those who are up to a challenge!
Serve alongside a green salad with a simple vinaigrette. Pair with wine, beer, or cider (traditional in Brittany) and toast to the midpoint of the long winter!
Ham, egg, and emmental cheese
Ham, cream, mushroom
Sausage, mustard, potato
Chicken, spinach, mushroom
Smoked salmon, butter, and dill
Eggplant, zucchini, tomato
Bechamel sauce, leek, mushroom
Bacon or lardon, cream, onion, mushroom
Lemon + sugar
Confiture de lait
Butter + sugar
Chocolate + banana, strawberry, pear
Crêpe Batter Recipe: Traditional
250 g flour
1/2 liter cold milk
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
50 g melted butter
Put the flour in a large bowl with the salt and the sugar.
Make a well in the middle and pour the eggs into it.
Stir the mixture slowly. When it starts to thicken, add the milk little by little.
When all the milk has been added, the batter should be fairly runny. If it seems too thick, add a bit of milk. Then add the the butter and mix well.
Heat the crêpes in a hot pan. If you are not using a non-stick pan, you will need to oil the pan lightly first.
To cook the crêpes, spoon a ladle of batter onto the pan and rotate the pan to evenly spread the batter over the surface of the pan.
Set the pan on the heat and when the edges of the crêpe turn golden brown, it is time to flip the crêpe.
Let the crêpe cook one minute on the other side and then it is ready to eat.
Recipe from Le Journal des Femmes, translation mine.
Crêpe Batter Recipe: Gluten-Free
500 g cornstarch (or corn-based flour, such as Maïzena)
1 liter milk
6 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon oil
Whisk together the cornstarch, milk, and eggs.
Stir in the sugar and the oil.
If lumps remain, use a hand-held blender on the batter to break them up.
Let the batter rest for approximately 30 minutes.
Cook the crêpes in a pan coated with butter or oil.
Recipe from Cuisine Actuelle, translation mine.
Crêpe Batter Recipe: Vegan
250 g flour
1/2 liter plant-based milk (almond, oat, soy, etc.)
2 tablespoons oil (such as canola or sunflower), plus a bit for cooking
80 g cornstarch (or a corn-based flour, such as Maïzena)
200 ml water
In a large bowl, combine the flour and the cornstarch.
In a measuring cup, combine the milk, water, and oil, then incorporate slowly into the flour and cornstarch mixture, using a whisk to break up any lumps.
Let sit for at least an hour in the fridge.
To cook, place a teaspoon of oil in a flat pan (use a paper towel if you like). Once the pan is hot, drop in a ladleful of the batter.
Let cook for approximately a minute on each side.
Recipe from Cuisine AZ, translation mine.
Tell us: What winter traditions are celebrated in your home country?
And: What are your favorite crêpe fillings? Are there any combinations we should definitely not miss?