“ I cooked a goulash soup. Would you mind preparing a crêpe batter as a second meal?”- my mother’s text message arrives while I am on the way and I respond to her that of course I will and will be at home soon.
While I put together the batter according to a French recipe as I learnt it when studying culinary arts, it pops into my mind that I should ask my grandmother to teach me her version. Obviously preparing the batter without using recipe and following your instincts is also possible but I was apprentice next to French chefs who measure everything, if it handles about both cooking and baking. Even if the ratio of the French recipe works well for me and always results in success but still, for me my grandmother’s crêpe is the so called “non plus ultra”. It is perfect, thin, light and evenly dotted by browned spots. As it has to be.
My admiration for my grandmother’s crêpes started at the time I went to high school and I received that invaluable gift from life to be able to have lunch at her every day.
I was a really picky girl which attitude transformed by the age of 14 into a special ability: whenever I had to eat something whose smell and appearance didn’t appeal to me, I didn’t feel hungry any more. So basically everything what you could get in the cantina of the high school. For me it was not a problem- children tend to be fed by light sometimes I guess- but my mother was worried about me getting slimmer and slimmer. My grandmother saved the situation by offering me to cook lunch for me every day without knowing how precious and unforgettable memories these lunches will become later. I left school at 1.30 pm every day and after 15 minutes walk I could already smell the wonderful scents coming out of the kitchen.
“Did you make crêpes?”- I asked very often, because she quickly realised that those please me the most.
“Is there soup as well?”, I continued asking suspiciously, when my grandmother responded with her joyful voice. “Yes, there is, but only a little and very delicious”.
And despite of being the most stubborn and picky child when it came to food, I ate the “little but very delicious soup”, the vegetable stew, the pörkölt and whatever she cooked for me. In return, as part of our agreement I was allowed to eat one single crêpe without any filling as a starter right at the moment it slipped out of the pan.
Twenty years passed since then and I am talking with my grandmother on the phone.
“Mami, would you teach me how to make crêpes, the way you do it?”
“My dear Judit, you can surely make crêpes…”, she answered a bit surprised.
“Of course I can, but it is different… I would like the learn that certain one, you know”, I answer while thinking back the school years.
“But it doesn’t has any recipe in fact”, she gets uncertain.
“Now it will have one”, I answer laughing, “ because I will measure everything what you add”.
She starts laughing as well and we agree that our cooking class will start the day after at 11 am.
My grandmother is still the same even at the age of 86: we not only prepare a batter but put together a layered potato dish with vegetables and create a new recipe with some leftover biscuit crumbles, apples and egg whites. I set the table, we eat layered potatoes then try the freshly baked – well, how I should call them- apple biscuits, wafers or whatever they are. While testing, chatting we nearly forget about crêpes.
The crêpe, whose batter I mixed followed by my grandmother’s watchful eyes turns out to be exactly I remembered. I cannot explain. Perfect. We fill them with apricot jam and I eat one after the other one with that inner peace that even if 20 years passed by, lot of things happened and my world turned upside down several times, one thing remained the same.
My grandmother’s crêpes.
My grandmother’s crêpes
20 g caster sugar
1 pinch of salt
250 g flour
350 ml sparkling mineral water
100 ml milk
sunflower oil for brushing
Mix egg, caster sugar and salt. (It doesn’t need to be foamy) Add flour, sparkling water and milk and using a whisk stir until the mixture is well combined. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, or at least for 20 minutes. According to my grandmother it is best if refrigerated overnight. Heat up and brush a 20 cm crêpe pan with some sunflower oil. Pour a ladleful batter into it and swirl to completely cover bottom. When the batter is set on top then comes my grandma’s secret. She slightly brush the top with oil, only touching the crêpe at few points with the peak of the brush. Using this method your crêpes will even look more beautiful. Flip it over and cook for one more minute. Lightly grease the pan before the crêpe.