The argument has been going on since before we were married, but notwithstanding my husband’s opinion that crêpes come from Normandy (where he was born), crêpes – and galettes – originate from Brittany (where I was born).
The crêpe is the very thin and crisp pancake made with white flour which is reserved for desserts. The galette is made with a mix of white and buckwheat flours and is used with savory fillings.
My mother (my inspiration again!) made only crêpes and then she would make sixty at a time, spending most of her afternoon in front of the stove. They were part of the traditional winter dinner, when fresh vegetables are sparse and more time is spent in the kitchen than in the garden or at the playground with us children. In cold weather, crêpes were the classic follow-up to a soup and we could each eat at least six of them filled either with home-made jam or sugar.
Crêpes and galettes are the easiest things to make, they are not expensive and they use the staples which any cook worth his/her salt probably always has on hand in the kitchen: Eggs, milk, flour, butter, oil and water.
I used to make both crêpes and galettes, but nowadays, always pressed by time, I only make the latest for both sweet and savory fillings.
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 egge
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 2 tbsp regular oil
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp Cognac or Calvados
- In a bowl, pour the white and buckwheat flours and mix with a spoon.
- Make a well in the center and pour the lightly beaten egg in it.
- Melt the butter, add the oil and half a cup of the milk to the melted butter, and pour the mix over the egg and flours, in the same time, stirring gently with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk until there are no more lumps. The mixture will be thick.
- Cover with a plastic film and let it rest for at least one hour on the counter.
Cooking the Galettes
- It is best to cook galettes in the special flat frying pan called galetière: Its low edge allows for an easy lifting of the cooking galette with a spatula. If you don’t have a galetière, a regular frying pan will do.
- Set up the galetière on low medium heat (between 3 and 4) on the stove. Rub the bottom of the pan with butter or oil. Let it warm up for a few minutes. When the butter or oil starts to fizzle, lift the pan above the heat. With one hand, pour in a ladle of batter and with the other hand, swirl the pan so that the batter spreads, filling completely the bottom of the galetière. Put the pan back on the stove and let it cook until the edge of the batter starts to brown and it feels crisp and does not break if lifted with a spatula. It’s time to flip it over and cook the second side which should take just a few seconds: You don’t want to over cook the galette at this point since it will have to be cooked some more with the filling inside.
- When the galette is cooked on both sides, flip it once more so that the first cooked side will be on the outside, once the galette is folded.
- It’s time to put in the filling. My husband likes ham, cheese and egg. I like cheese and egg.
- If using ham, place it first on the galette, then the cheese in a circle leaving an empty space in the middle. Crack the egg and place it in the center (so that it will be held by the cheese and will not slide to the sides). Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Fold the galette over the filling, set the heat at low so the inside will have time to cook without burning the outside: The cheese needs to melt and the egg white to solidify.
- Serve immediately.
Cider is the traditional drink for a meal of crêpes or galettes.