You will make these sweet treats often.
As a teenager, I discovered the delight of crêpes quite accidentally. Occasionally, I would thumb through Mom’s gigantic yellow-covered cookbook that was her recipe Bible. Sometimes I’d choose a spot and open the book at random. One day it opened to “Traditional French Crêpes.”
Skimming through the recipe, I realized it was pretty simple. But I didn’t have anything that resembled a crêpe pan. Grandma came up behind me and, reading over my shoulder, read my mind. “You don’t need one,” she said, pointing to the picture.
That was all the encouragement I needed. After that, I made them every chance I got. Our family’s supply of various jellies and quickly whisked whipped-cream became my go-to fillings. I even bought a small mesh strainer to use for dusting with powdered sugar.
During my college years, Dad was posted to Heidelburg, Germany, and we visited Paris during one summer break. I finally ate authentic French crêpes. They had a delightful lemony filling. If you follow my writing here, you know I love lemon-anything.
During this pandemic, I created a sourdough starter, because I couldn’t find bread or yeast on my store’s shelves. Since then I have looked for ways to use the discard that results from each feeding. Recently, I remembered those sweet treats and decided to figure out how to make them with the discard.
Sourdough Crêpes Recipe
I usually make sweet crêpes but savory ones are great for a quick main entrée. This recipe can make either version. It makes 8 to 10 crêpes.
½ c. (120 g.) sourdough discard
½ tsp. (3 g.) kosher salt
1 ½ c. (375 g.) milk
3 tbsp. (42 g.) butter, melted
¾ c. (106 g.) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (28 g.) vegetable oil or butter (for cooking)
For sweet crêpes, add the following ingredients.
2 tbsp. (28 g.) granulated sugar or honey
½ tsp. vanilla extract
The resulting batter will seem watery, but that’s what makes it easy to get a thin, delicate crêpe.
The milk and eggs should be room temperature before mixing all the ingredients together. However, I always forget to do that. Here is what I do, and it works just fine.
Put the milk in a 4-cup measuring cup. Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the milk. Warm them in the microwave for about a minute, just long enough to melt the butter.
Add the salt (and honey and vanilla for sweet crêpes) and whisk to combine. The temperature of the mixture should be about 100 F, or slightly warm to the touch, but not hot. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Finally, whisk in the sourdough discard and flour until no lumps remain. Cover and let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I make them the night before and let them rest overnight. Resting allows the bubbles to escape from the mixture so that the finished crêpes are flat and smooth.
How to cook sourdough crêpes
Traditional crêpes are made with a 10-inch crêpe pan, but any shallow 10-inch skillet works just fine. I usually use an 8-inch one for dessert crêpes.
Place the skillet on medium heat and wipe the surface with a thin layer of oil or butter. Let the pan warm fully. If you find the crêpe sticks, you either don’t have the heat high enough or didn’t let it heat up long enough. Just scrape it out and try again.
When the skillet is heated, pour ¼-cup of batter in the center of your 10-inch pan. Lift the skillet off the heat and tilt it toward one side. Gently tilt and roll the skillet until the batter makes a thin coating across the flat bottom surface. The goal is to make it round like a pancake. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.
Return the skillet to the heat. After about 15 to 30 seconds the crêpe will appear dry on the top and the edge will begin to curl. Use a silicon or icing spatula to lift one edge of the crêpe until you can pick it up between thumb and finger. Quickly flip it over and allow it to cook an additional 15 seconds.
Use the spatula to lift the edge of the crêpe and pick it up with your fingers. Stack it on a plate while you cook the remaining crêpes. Cover the plate with a towel or an inverted plate to keep them warm. Wipe a thin coating of oil or butter on the skillet between each crêpe.
Go ahead and cook all the crêpe batter at one time. Any that you don’t use immediately can be frozen for later use.
How to fill sourdough crêpes
Traditional French crêpes are filled with lightly sweetened cream cheese and flavored with fresh lemon juice squeezed from a wedge of lemon. They are folded in fourths, not rolled, and dusted with powdered sugar. These are often served for a light dessert along with hot tea.
As a teen, I placed a tablespoon of strawberry preserves and dollop of whipped cream on one half of a freshly cooked crêpe. I folded it in half, and in half again, to form the classic triangle. After stacking four crêpes on my plate, I dusted them with powdered sugar and squeezed lemon over the stack.
I ate this for breakfast on many summer mornings.
Any jam or jelly is a great filling for sweet crêpes, especially lemon curd. Fresh fruit and sweetened cream cheese is ideal for breakfast or dessert. Crêpes can be filled with sautéed vegetables and mushrooms and topped with sour cream or drizzled with a savory wine, hollandaise, or Alfredo sauce for a savory meal.
How to store sourdough crêpes
After cooking them, create a stack of crêpes, placing parchment or wax paper between each one. Slide the stack into a gallon-sized zippered freezer bag and lay them flat in the freezer or refrigerator.
The crêpes can be stored in the freezer for several weeks. If you keep them refrigerated, they should be used within 7 to 10 days.
To eat, let the crêpe thaw and place it between paper towels. Microwave on 50% power for about 10 seconds, until warm. Then all you have to do is fill it with your favorite fillings.
Get your superhero crêpe on!
Impress your friends and family with your culinary skills by making these simple crêpes. You can even do a crêpe-themed meal: a savory crêpe for dinner and a sweet crêpe for dessert.
Make your meal interactive by letting your guests fill crêpes their own way. Kids will love helping you make them. You may ask yourself, “Why the crêpe didn’t I make these sooner?”
Pat is a closet feminist and progressive conservative who loves to travel, garden, read, and bake. She writes about food, sustainability, and living simply. Her goal is to leave the world in better shape than it was in when she arrived. She’s a retired middle school teacher who lives in Texas with her husband and a neurotic cat named Neko.