With “Pancake Day” approaching us on 28th February, I thought that this week I would share one of my favourite crêpe recipes from my cookbook, “A Handful of Flour”.
There is a natural sweetness to chestnut flour that is utterly irreplaceable by any other ingredient; it also has a notably rich and nutty flavour. I’ve suggested serving these crêpes with ricotta and orange zest, but you can make a savoury version too. Some of the farmers who supply us with chestnuts for milling are based in the Ardèche region of southern France, so I feel like I’m creating a little bit of French charm in Gloucestershire when I make these.
Organic chestnuts are only available seasonally and are often in short supply, so this type of flour is more of a treat to elevate your crêpes. If you have a sweet tooth, add 1-2 tablespoons of icing sugar or honey to the ricotta with the orange zest.
For a savoury suggestion, fry some chopped sage in a little beurre noisette (‘nutty’ butter) and then top the crêpes with this plus some grated Gruyère or Parmesan to serve. The salty, savoury aromatic flavours work wonders with the sweetness of the chestnut. (‘Nutty’ butter is made by heating the butter in a small pan over a medium heat until it sizzles and the solids start to separate and brown, giving it a nutty flavour. The butter will start to foam, and when it has reached the right level of flavour it should be a lovely caramel golden brown.)
Makes 4-6 crêpes (depending on the size of the pan and how thin you make them).
Recipe extracted from “A Handful of Flour – Recipes from Shipton Mill”. Picture copyright Jonathan Gregson.
Find our Shipton Mill organic chestnut flour online here .
Sift your chestnut flour and salt into a large bowl. Beat in the eggs a little at a time. I use an electric hand whisk to speed up the process. Add the milk and ricotta (if you are including it), and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Transfer the pancake batter to a jug, as this makes it much easier to pour your crêpes into even circles.
Leave the batter to stand for 30-40 minutes while you prepare the topping. (If you use it too soon, the crêpes take on a slightly filmy texture.) In a small bowl mix the orange zest through the ricotta to taste, to add some freshness and zing. If you like it sweet, add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or icing sugar to make it more like a dessert.
To cook the crêpes, heat a little butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. Once it has melted, pour in the batter in a thin layer. You can use a crêpe spreader to help spread the batter out if you have one. Once bubbles start to rise to the top of your crêpe and it reaches a nice golden colour underneath, flip it over and cook the other side.
Serve immediately, with a dollop of orange zest ricotta or toppings of your choice.