Whole Wheat Apple Crepes with Cider Butter Sauce
Being the oldest child in my family, I have always been somewhat of a rule-follower. Being responsible, following-the-rules, and achieving were things I prided myself on growing up. And while that’s probably not so surprising — from what I’ve known of my friends who are also first-borns in their families, we all seem to have shared those experiences to some degree — I have enjoyed shaking myself free of some of those self-imposed expectations as I’ve grown older. It’s quite liberating.
But, following the rules is something that occasionally still trips me up. For instance, what would you do if you desperately wanted to eat crêpes, but had no crêpe pan?
The answer may be obvious: either (a) buy a crêpe pan, or (b) use a nonstick skillet, silly. But, unfortunately for me and my crêpe-eating urges, I wasn’t crazy about buying a one-use-only pan, and had thrown out the few nonstick skillets I had years ago when I heard that the Teflon could leach out chemicals over high heat.
However, the door to crêpes opened again recently for me. With anodized skillets (i.e. not using Teflon) now available, I felt like I could safely add this kind of pan back into my arsenal, and a recent birthday gift from my parents made me the proud owner of a 9-inch beauty.
And one weekend recently, it hit me: why did I need a special crêpe pan to make crêpes? I know their sides are lower, making for easier access to the crêpe when it’s time to flip. But there was no reason I couldn’t do the same thing in my anodized skillet — so I boldly set out to break that crêpe pan rule.
The pan worked beautifully! Just a little loosening around the edges with a spatula was required before I got the hang of flipping the crêpes midway through baking. Et voilà! A stack of thin, pliant crêpes ready to be filled.
We’ve been getting loads of apples and apple cider in our weekly CSA share this fall, much to our delight. And even though we love eating them straight out of hand — especially the Honeycrisps! — there are always a few left at the end of the week that I use for baking. For these crêpes, I sauteed two Golden Delicious with some butter, sugar, cinnamon and apple cider. The Golden Delicious is a nice variety to use because it retains it’s shape after cooking.
To spoon into the crêpes, I also made an apple cider-butter sauce that was delicious. Actually, the original recipe called for Calvados in place of non-alcoholic cider, but considering my pregnant state and the fact that I have good old plain cider in abundance, I broke that rule, too. So there!
The resulting crêpes were absolutely, positively fantastic. Probably one of my favorite breakfasts that I’ve eaten in a long while! A little cider butter moistening the crêpes, the soft crêpes folded up and topped generously with cinnamon-and-cider-spiked apples…well worth a little crêpe pan improv!*
*My pride in crêpe rule-breaking is largely tongue-in-cheek, I hope you know. Years ago when I was just learning to cook, I used to feel so completely bound by a recipe, and it was fairly stifling. But, as many of you can probably relate, the more you cook, the more you become confident in what changes and improvisations you can make, and how they’ll affect — or not affect — the final dish. And that is a liberating discovery indeed!
Whole Wheat Apple Crêpes with Cider Butter Sauce
Adapted from a few recipes on Epicurious
You can make each component of these crepes ahead, then just reheat and assemble at serving time. Since making the crepes is kind of a time-consuming process, I definitely suggest the do-ahead option!
For the crêpes:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Scant 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour
For the apples:
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 medium-size Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons apple cider
For the cider butter sauce:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy
Make the crepes (can be made ahead and stored in the fridge, stacked between squares of parchment and covered with plastic wrap):
Blend the milk and eggs in a blender on medium high speed until foamy, about 10 seconds. Switch to low speed and remove the feed top; with the blender running on low, add the sugar and salt. Put the feed top back on and blend on high for a few seconds, then turn it back down to low. Again, remove the feed top and add the melted butter, cider, and vanilla, then replace the feed top and blend for several seconds again. Turn off the blender, add the flour all at once, and blend just until combined.
Place crêpe pan (or a 9 or 10-inch nonstick skillet) over moderately high heat. You can spread a tiny amount of butter in the pan, but I found I didn’t need to do this. When the pan is quite hot, pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter into it and quickly tilt the pan in all directions to spread a thin layer of the batter across the bottom. You should use just enough batter to cover the pan – I found 1/3 cup worked for the size pan I was using.
Cook the crêpe over moderately high heat until bubbles just begin to form on the exposed surface, about one to two minutes. Lift up the edge to check the cooking process — it should be golden brown on the opposite side (you can adjust the heat accordingly if it’s burning or not browning quickly enough.) Loosen around the edges with a flexible spatula, then use your hands to flip the crêpe.
Cook another minute or less, until other side is browned. Remove from pan and keep warm in the oven, loosely covered with foil (or, if you’re making them ahead, stack them on a plate separated by squares of parchment paper.)
Make the apple filling (can be made ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge):
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add diced apples, then sprinkle with sugar, coarse salt, and cinnamon. Sauté until apples are tender, about 3 minutes. Add cider and cook until most of liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Make the cider butter sauce (you can make this ahead and store it, covered, in the fridge):
Using electric mixer, beat butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add sugar and coarse salt; beat until fluffy. Gradually beat in apple cider just until incorporated.
Heat the cider butter sauce over low heat in a skillet until it’s melted, stirring occasionally. Heat up the apples until they’re warm, or serve at room temperature if you’d rather.
The crepes can be warmed in the oven before serving. To do this, place the stack on a baking sheet and cover the whole sheet pan with foil; warm at 300 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how cold the crepes were when they went into the oven.
To plate, spread 2 teaspoons of the cider butter sauce over a crepe, then fold crepe into quarters. Repeat with remaining crepes, for a total of three crepes per plate. Divide apple mixture over the top of each plate, and spoon any additional cider butter sauce over the tops.
Serves 4 generously.