Crêpes are a delicious alternative to Sunday morning pancakes, and when you have the right tool, they’re really not very difficult to make at home. But what is the right tool for the job? To find out, I put two options to the test: World Cuisine’s 7-inch carbon-steel pan and Villaware’s 7-inch electric crêpe maker.
In the end, both performed well, but the experience of using them is very different, and so are the results.
Traditional carbon-steel crêpe pan
World Cuisine's 7-inch carbon-steel crêpe pan costs $10.99 at Fantes.com
Making crêpes in this pan involves pouring batter into the hot pan, swirling the pan to spread the batter into a thin layer, and cooking the crêpe briefly on both sides.
This pan needs to be seasoned before the first use—which takes just a few minutes—but once seasoned, the surface releases crêpes like a charm. The key to turning out perfect crêpes lies in mastering your timing and technique. When you pour batter into the hot pan, it sets in a matter of seconds, so you’ve got to swirl the batter very quickly into a nice thin circle or you’ll end up with an oddly shaped crêpe.
Once you get the rhythm of pouring and swirling, though, the process feels natural and fun. Crêpes made in this pan turn out tender yet nicely browned on both sides; if you use about 1-1/2 ounces of batter, the crêpes will be about 2.5 mm thick.
Pros: Crêpes are attractively browned on both sides and tender; mastering the technique is rewarding; pan is slim and easy to store.
Cons: If the pan isn’t well seasoned, the crêpes will stick; swirling the batter into perfectly round crêpes takes some practice.
Electric crêpe maker
The learning curve with this crêpe maker is short. To use it, you simply dip the hot nonstick plate into the batter, flip the pan upright, and let the crêpe cook on one side for a few moments. (The instructions say that the crêpes don’t need to be cooked on both sides, which is fine if you plan to roll them around a tasty filling, but if you’re serving them flat, I think it would be nicer to brown both sides.)
It might take a few tries before you can dip the pan into the batter just so: too deep and the batter curls over the edges of the pan; too shallow and the crêpe will be small or elliptical. But once you get a feel for it, using this machine is very easy. I was making perfectly round crêpes in no time. Because such a thin layer of batter sticks to the hot plate when you dip it, the crêpes are exceptionally thin (just 1 mm thick) and crisp around the edges, which is different from what I’m used to but not unpleasant.
Pros: Short learning curve; lets you make perfectly round, impressively thin crêpes with very little effort.
Cons: The crêpes' crisp edges may not be to everyone’s taste; somewhat awkward to store.