This term the Petits Chefs are testing out some of the recipes from my cookbook and this week, I had them work on something I’ve kind of been putting off as I’ve worked through the recipes. Crêpes might sound like a simple dish but there are so many variables in terms of the pans people use to cook them that I’ve been thinking of the best way to test this with the type of equipment most people have in their kitchens and of course, our humble science lab with basic equipment was the answer. Watching kids make a dish and seeing how they react to instructions/ recipe directions is also extremely useful in terms of figuring out how to explain simple instructions – it’s often the simplest recipes that are the hardest to explain!
My motivation for making these with the boys started last year actually when a group of boys in my Grade 4 class elected to research crêpes as part of a French culture project. They wrote research questions and answered them (although I admit we never found out the answer to “Who was the very first person EVER to eat crêpes?” LOL) and decided they wanted to present their knowledge by making a recipe video and sharing the results of a cooking session with their classmates.
Last week, since it was La Chandeleur, I figured it was a great time to make those crêpes and we got cooking with three different batters (one recipe the boys had researched, two others I wanted to test!), filmed the entire process and enjoyed lots of delicious crêpes (stay tuned, I might share a video in the next couple of weeks!).
Wait, what? La Chandeleur – what’s that? I hear you asking… In English, Candlemas, it’s the day people eat crêpes in France. Celebrated by Catholics on February 2nd which is 40 days after Christmas, it’s also known as la fête de la lumière or the Festival of Light (chandeleur comes from the word chandelle which means candle) and it marks the Day Mary was allowed back into the church after giving birth to Jesus. Nowadays, it’s celebrated in France by the consumption of many crêpes! Tradition has it that if you hold a coin in the hand you write with and flip the crêpe in the pan with the other and actually catch the crêpe, your family will enjoy a prosperous year to come (note that we didn’t try this at school!).
I’ll admit that I was a little nervous – 17 boys in the tiny science lab, one teacher who would be occupied filming a group of 3 of them basically leaving the rest of the class to their own devices armed with hotplates, spatulas, crêpe batter and frying pans.. Sounds like it might have been a recipe for disaster… In actual fact, the boys totally took control and rocked their batter, making at least one crêpe for every person, in some cases two!
This week, in cooking club, I got a different group of boys working on crêpe batter (again, just to be sure…) and had my crêpe experts work on buckwheat crêpes (slightly more challenging but I figured they were up for it!). I’d practised at home the night before and had a batter I was very happy with… (the one below is slightly too thick – I was playing with different amounts of batter in the pan).
This week and last was an exercise in patience and persistence (if your first few crêpes fail, keep trying) and we figured out that what makes a good crêpe or galette (as the buckwheat versions are called) is a batter with the right consistency – check! – and a pan on very high heat (but controlled) – check!
SO grateful to work with my book’s target market every week (well, every day if you consider that writing a book for kids is just like writing a whole lotta worksheets!). It’s been truly helpful in terms of writing instructions geared to young cooks and bakers (and the boys think it’s been pretty tasty too!).
Stay tuned to see what recipes we test from In the French kitchen with kids next week!