Crepes come in many flavors and styles and can be eaten as appetizers, side dishes, main courses or desserts. They use a thin batter similar to that of a pancake as the foundation for all types of recipes. The most common component of crepe dough is wheat, although other types of crepe dough employ barley, buckwheat or potato flour. The two general types of crepe dough are those that are used to envelope savory ingredients and those that are used with sweet components. Buckwheat is used primarily for savory crepes, and wheat flour is most often used for sweet crepes.
The quantity of liquid inside the crepe batter is often adjusted to make the crepe thicker or thinner. Ideally, crepe batter should pour like heavy cream. Milk or a mixture of milk and water is typically applied, but some recipes use cream or even beer for this process. Different flours have unique thickening characteristics, and the amount of moisture in the flour can influence the amount of liquid needed.
Savory crepe dough's basic components are buckwheat, eggs, milk, water and butter, along with salt and sugar. Some savory crepe batter recipes even call for curry powder, garbanzo flour or whole wheat. Specialty flours, such as blue cornmeal or chestnut, are available in the bulk sections of many natural food stores and help vary the taste of a savory crepe. An additional distinction to buckwheat crepes is that they are gluten-free. Fresh herbs bring bright color and flavor to savory crepe batter.
Sweeter crepe dough uses the basic crepe foundation of wheat flour and adds to it eggs, milk or cream, sugar, vanilla extract and butter. When preparing a sweet crepe, sprinkling powdered or granulated sugar into the batter as it cooks is a tasty option that will not interfere with the cooking process. A cook can further enhance sweet crepe batter by adding flavorings such as liqueurs, extracts, lemon juice or fruit zest. Ground espresso beans and cocoa powder are also popular additions to dessert crepe dough.
Just as there are many versions of crepe dough, there are seemingly limitless fillings and toppings to go inside and on top of this delicious French pancake. Crepe dough typically is rested after preparation to allow the flour to expand in the batter and to relax the gluten, but it is not necessary for the dough to be rested to make a successful crepe. The batter also keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer when sealed in an airtight container.