KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — One of my favourite memories of my student days in Munich is the weekend mornings when my friends and I didn’t have any classes to attend.
We would inevitably buy cases of Bavarian beer (the good stuff such as the local Weißbier, made from pale malted wheat, with its complex, banana-like flavours) the night before and drink ourselves silly.
Waking up late the following day, we would crave some carbs and grease as a hangover cure. No one would want to trek outside the dorm rooms for a proper sit-down meal though. Yet a bowl of cereal or a stale slice of rye bread just wouldn’t do.
The solution was crêpes. These pancakes — originating from Brittany in France, if our French friends are to be believed — are scrumptious and easy to make. All you need are flour and salt in the pantry, and milk, eggs and butter in the refrigerator and you’re set.
Even then we would draw lots to discover who would have to be the “chef” for the day whilst the rest of us lingered in our beds (some of us under them) for a while longer until we, too, had to rouse ourselves, if only to set the table with dishes and to gather the condiments – usually a big bottle of Nutella and some leftover fruit compote or preserve.
Now I’m a working adult, time always seems to be at a premium. Back in Kuala Lumpur, it’s simply easier to head out for some char kway teow or roti telur. Or is it?
I remember that crêpes don’t have to be difficult to make — they’re as easy-peasy as five ingredients most of us have in our kitchen — yet can be lifted into an adventure for the tastebuds depending on what toppings or fillings you pair these pancakes with.
So here’s to starting a new weekend ritual, even if it’s just for one or two of you. Get up — not too early, it’s the weekend, after all — and start by boiling some water. Grind some roasted coffee beans you bought from your neighbourhood café cum coffee roaster (they’re everywhere now).
Brew some coffee — the aroma alone should wake you up good and proper (not to mention your spouse or partner or whoever you spent the evening prior with; it’s only good manners to cook them breakfast the morning after, no?).
Make a quick and easy batter for the crêpes. Chat, laugh or sip coffee together in silence as the stack of pancakes grow ever higher. Sit down and use whatever condiments you have at hand (this is when you realise it’s always a good idea to keep a jar of your favourite spread in the pantry, for mornings such as these) to dress up your crêpes.
The idea is to relax and be gentle and kind to... yourself. It’s the weekend, a time for escape, and it should be as delicious as freshly-cooked crêpes.
This is a recipe for the most basic of crêpes, which means the resultant pancakes are supposed to be a bit plain (the better to absorb the flavours of all the condiments you eat it with) and slightly savoury.
Some would prefer sweeter a crêpe: simply add sugar to taste to the batter, but bear in mind the sweetness already present in your condiment of choice.
Speaking of condiments, the possibilities are truly endless. A few popular selections include: honey, peanut butter, Nutella (or some other hazelnut-chocolate spread), fruit compotes and preserves, lightly toasted almond flakes, fresh berries and sometimes just a simple scattering of caster sugar, nothing more.
Nutty or fruity? Or both? Have it however you like it.
Do remember that the first crêpe out of the pan is never perfect. This is almost a guarantee. Don’t fret; each subsequent crêpe will turn out better and better, and even if none are perfect, trust me, they all taste good when they’re cooked with lots of love... and butter.
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Zest of one lemon
750ml full-cream milk
3 large eggs, room temperature
100g unsalted butter (melted and cooled slightly), with some extra for cooking
Sift the flour and sea salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the milk and eggs together. Once combined, add the milk-and-egg mixture to the seasoned flour. Whisk gently to combine further, adding the melted butter as you go.
Set the batter aside in the refrigerator for at least two hours ideally (less if you’re making this for a quick breakfast – it’ll have to do), until it has the consistency of thick cream.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Brush with some of the extra melted butter. Ladle about 3-4 tablespoons batter into pan. Tilt the pan if necessary, to ensure the bottom of the pan is evenly coated with batter. Cook for about a minute until the surface of the crêpe appears to have set. Using a spatula, flip the crêpe and let it cook until the bottom is golden brown (less than a minute). Tip the crêpe onto a plate and cover with another plate (or a clean cloth) to keep it warm.
Brush the pan with more melted butter as necessary and repeat till the remaining batter has been used up. Makes about 20-24 crêpes. Serve immediately and allow guests to pair with condiments of choice.
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