February 2nd is Groundhog Day in North America and Chandeleur in France. Forty days after Christmas, this holiday designates the midpoint between the shortest day of the year and the spring equinox. It is also the day when devout Christians are supposed to clear manger scenes from churchyards and cathedrals.
Right about now, in both France and the U.S. many of us are waiting for the arrival of spring. And in France it is customary to mark this day with the tradition of candlelight (Candlemas, or the festa candelarum in Latin, which is origin of the name Chandeleur) and with eating crêpes.
Why eat les crêpes?
Round and golden, these thin layers of dough evoke the sun and the lengthening days, symbols of the soil warming up to welcome the first seeds.
New York chef, Dominique Ansel, remembers the crêpes of his childhood. He says they were “the first dessert I made in the kitchen. ” Today he shares with Frenchly his grandmother’s recipe for crêpes Suzettes (video below).
For the pancake batter:
0.5 lb (225 grams) Flour:
17 oz (1/2 litre) of whole milk
0.15 lb (65 grams) of sugar
3 tablespoons (40 grams) of butter
0.5 oz (14 grams) salt
In a large bowl, put the flour and sugar, salt, then break the 3 eggs and beat by hand with a whisk. Then add the milk a little at a time to obtain a smooth, fairly liquid dough. Finish by adding the butter (melted).
Heat the pancake pan (ideally cast iron and very flat). Dominique Ansel lightly greases the pan with oil, not butter (his grandmother’s recipe) using kitchen paper or a paper towel. No need to keep adding oil between two pancakes.
Put a small ladleful of batter into the hot pan, spreading the batter evenly over the pan. Cook one side for a few seconds, flip the pancake with your fingers, a spatula or with a long fork and cook the other side for a few seconds. Cook all the pancakes in this way and pile on a plate!
For the gourmets, the crêpe Suzette recipe (with caramel and Grand Marnier) is below.