Monday, April 14, 2008

Buckwheat Crepes of Brittany

I know the last post was on pancakes, but this is a breakfast recipe I've been wanting to post for a little while now. Plus, it would be a great dinner too, so there you go.

These crepes are made with buckwheat flour and served in the style of Brittany where they are a local favorite. There was a big, beautifully photographed story (can't seem to find it online) in the April 2007 issue of Saveur on the sweet and savory crepes of this northwestern corner of France which inspired me to finally try this delicious take on the savory crepe. I'm sure they're amazing with flour made from buckwheat grown in Brittany, but they are also awesome with the stuff from Whole Foods (Bob's Red Mill brand, to be exact).

Mike and I have made these a couple times now, and we really like them. It took some fooling with the recipe, but now we've gotten a feel for it. We try to make thin, but soft crepes that we fold over ham, shredded Gruyere cheese and an egg over easy. Good Gruyere, a hard cow's milk cheese from Switzerland, should be easy to find at stores with a decent cheese selection (again, Whole Foods to the rescue). It's one of my favorite cheeses -- good with eggs, on any sandwich, in gougeres, for grilled cheese.

This is one traditional way to serve crepes in France, but you can fill them with anything. And if you don't want to use buckwheat flour, you can make simple white flour crepes or experiment with all sorts of other grains, like whole wheat, barley or quinoa flours. I haven't tried them, but if you do - or if you have your own interesting crepe recipe - let me know how it works.

Buckwheat Crepes with Ham, Eggs and Gruyère (Crêpes de Blé Noir)
Adapted from Saveur magazine

The filled crepes are called crêpes complètes if you're lucky enough to have one in Brittany. There, they separate the yolks and discard the whites so they can cook the yolk inside the crepe along with the cheese and ham. We think it's easier to cook the egg separately - plus we can eat the white too.

Makes 8 to 10 crepes

For crepes:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups reduced fat milk
1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt

For filling:
thinly sliced deli ham, cut into pieces
shredded Gruyere

Whisk the melted butter with the milk, flours and salt. You can proceed with the recipe now or cover and chill (lay plastic wrap directly over the surface of the batter) for anywhere from one to 24 hours.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Ladle about 1/4 cup batter into skillet and quickly tilt to spread into a round. If the batter is too thick to spread, whisk in some water, a little at a time, until you have a consistency you can work with. Cook for about 2 minutes until light golden on the bottom; flip and spread some ham and shredded cheese over one side of crepe. When crepe is cooked through, slide onto a plate, top with a fried egg, fold in half and serve.


Katy said...

Yum! I always see buckwheat flour at the farmer's market and think of crepes, but I haven't gone for it yet! I love breakfast foods for dinner though, so this is right up my alley!

Dana said...

There was a recipe for buckwheat crepes in last month's Bon Appetit, and I just bought some buckwheat flour so that I can make them. The recipe fills them with goat cheese and drizzles them with honey (uh, YUM), but your version sounds great too!