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French-Canadian Crêpes

Alexandria, Virginia

Crêpes are one of those wonderful foods, like pie, that can be made sweet or savory, and served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

French-Canadian crêpes are in a way the quintessence of French-Canadian cuisine, rooted in French cooking, but heartier, better to sustain the people for tapping maple trees than for dancing at the court of Versailles.  They’re soft in the middle and crispy on the outside, like a perfect chocolate-chip cookie.  The center is slightly custard-y, almost like French toast.  The edges are lacy.

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I’m not sure how the colonists of yesteryear achieved those lacy edges, but I do know how my Mémère and other 20th-century mémères in the Little Canadas of New England did so:  Butter and Crisco melted together, in a cast-iron pan.  You can use a non-stick skillet or crêpe pan if you prefer, but don’t skimp on the Crisco.

You can top or fill the crêpes with almost anything you like:  meat, cheese, chocolate, fruit, jam.  My Mémère rolled them up with brown sugar.  Maple syrup is also traditional.  But I think they’re fabulous with just a simple pat of butter.

Bon appetit!  



  • butter
  • Crisco
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 lg eggs
  • ≤ 2 c. milk


  1. Melt butter and Crisco over med. heat in non-stick frying pan, preferably well-seasoned cast iron.

  2. In a lg mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients together. Beat in eggs. Gradually blend in milk until batter reaches consistency of heavy cream.

  3. Cook crêpes: Pour approx. ¼ c. batter into hot skillet, swirling pan as necessary to coat bottom w/ thin layer. Cook until crêpe firms up underneath, approx. 1-2 min. Gently loosen edges and flip crêpe w/ spatula. Cook until firm, approx. 1 min. Transfer to heated plate.

  4. Continue cooking crêpes until batter is finished, melting additional butter and Crisco in skillet as necessary to keep edges lacy.

  5. Serve as desired.

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