Today’s guest author is Martha Holmberg, author of Crêpes: 50 Savory and Sweet Recipes, the definitive book on this perfectly delicious food. What’s your favorite crêpe combination? Crêpe pan or regular pan—which do you use? Any technique suggestions for the perfectly thin crêpe? Leave a comment below and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of the book, along with Martha’s previous cookbook Puff, that we’ll award to a randomly selected person (offer valid in the US and Canada only).
The Pleasures of Being Prepared. No matter what part of the country you’re in, springtime can arrive unexpectedly… and disappear just as fast. Here in Oregon, we always have a few teasing weeks of on-again/off-again rain and then all of a sudden, the sun decides to stick around.
One consequence of that sunshine (other than the appearance of lots sundresses and tank tops, after a season of Gore-Tex) is that the strawberries ripen. From one day to the next, market shelves go from drab to gloriously and fragrantly ruby-red with strawberries.
It’s important to be prepared for this bounty! Local strawberries are delicate things, so you need to be ready for action.
Here’s what I do: after eating a basket or two in the car on the way home, I make a luscious strawberry dessert using my “crêpes kit” in the freezer: a stack of beautiful lacy crêpes and a freezer bag full of crumbly, buttery pecan streusel—both of which I can make at the start of the season and pull out whenever I want to make a fantastic dessert.
The crêpes themselves are a natural for the freezer. As long as you wrap them well, crêpes don’t lose any of their yummy flavor and tender texture by being frozen for a couple of months. (I wrap a few in plastic wrap and then slide that into a heavy freezer bag, press out the air, and then lay the bag flat in the freezer.)
And because they are so thin and delicate (which is easy to achieve with the steps I show you in the book), they’ll thaw in a few minutes on the counter, or seconds with very low heat in the micro.
The streusel is something I created just for my book, and it’s pretty ingenious, if I may say so! Most streusel toppings are created by sprinkling the uncooked ingredients over fruit and then baking everything together. In this case, I just spread the streusel on a baking sheet and cook it all by itself. The butter, sugar, flour, and pecans bake into a crumbly-crunchy topping that you can sprinkle on the crêpes, on a yogurt parfait, or over a bowl of baked peaches—very versatile, so make a double batch!
For the recipe in the book, I make a berry compote by gently simmering the berries with some brown sugar, lemon juice, and a tiny pinch of salt—don’t skip the salt, it has magic flavor-balancing powers! But you could keep things even simpler by just piling ripe berries into your crêpe, plopping some sour cream or whipped cream on top, crumbling a handful of streusel and then rolling and eating. Cheers.
Strawberry Crêpes with Brown Sugar–Pecan Streusel and Sour Cream
Makes 6 filled crêpes; serves 6
For the streusel
4 tbsp/55 g unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp/65 g all-purpose flour
1/4 cup/50 g lightly packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup/30 g chopped pecans
For the strawberries
2 lb/910 g ripe strawberries, hulled and halved, or quartered if large
1/4 cup/50 g lightly packed light or dark brown sugar, plus more as needed
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
Pinch of kosher salt
For assembling the crêpes
6 Versatile Crêpes (see recipe below), or your choice
1/2 cup/120 ml sour cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
MAKE THE STREUSEL
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas 5.
In a medium bowl using your fingers or a fork, mix the butter, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt together until the mixture forms small clumps. Add the pecans and mix a little more —you want the streusel to be the texture of clumpy granola. Spread out the streusel in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Freeze until well chilled, about 15 minutes. (You can make the streusel to this point up to 1 day ahead; keep refrigerated in an airtight container.)
Bake the streusel until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. It will probably spread out and look like it’s running together—that’s okay. Remove it from the oven and stir it around with a fork to return it to a granola-like texture. Let cool completely. Lower the oven heat to 300°F/150°C/gas 2.
MAKE THE STRAWBERRIES
Put the strawberries and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the juices begin to bubble and the berries are softened but not completely mushy, 4 to 7 minutes, depending on how ripe the berries are. Add the lemon juice and the salt. Taste the berries and add more lemon juice or sugar, if needed. Remove the berries from the heat and keep warm.
ASSEMBLE THE CRÊPES
Put the crêpes on a plate, cover the plate with foil, and set the plate in the oven to heat the crêpes through, at least 10 minutes. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla until smooth.
Lay a crêpe presentation-side down on each of 6 dessert plates. Spoon about 1/2 cup/120 ml of the strawberries in a horizontal line across the center of each crêpe. Roll each one into a loose cylinder, seam-side down. Pour a thick drizzle of the sour cream over each crêpe, and then shower with the streusel topping. Serve right away.