Popular in both French and French-Canadian cuisine, crepes and galettes differ in batter mixes and methods of preparation. Each can be made as either a savory or sweet snack.
In appearance, a crepe looks similar to a pancake, but the batter is thinner and the final product is more delicate.
The batter combines all-purpose flour, eggs, milk or cream and a pinch of salt. To give the crepe its silky finish, allow the batter to rest for an hour or so, after which it should have the consistency of heavy cream.
In France, crepes are often prepared from mobile stands using a smooth, circular hot plate, which allows onlookers to watch as the batter is ladled onto the griddle and smoothed around with a spatula or cook’s rake.
If making at home, a hot skillet will do. Cooking crepes is a great way to learn how to gauge a pan’s heat. Too hot and the crepe will char. Too cold and it will stiffen and turn rubbery. Often, the first crepe from a batch exposes any flaws and ends up discarded.
Crepes need to be cooked quickly to keep the batter moist. Melt a little butter first on the pan, working it across the surface with a spatula, then ladle in the batter and roll the pan around to distribute the liquid. Flip it as soon as the edges start to turn crisp.
- A sprinkling of sugar or coating of honey is enough for a satisfying crepe, but the classic recipe is crepes suzette, which calls for a caramelized, buttery sauce incorporating citrus juice and Grand Marnier.
Strictly speaking, a galette is a version of the crepe from Brittany in northwest France, made with buckwheat flour for a nuttier taste. If not eaten sweet, the Breton galette is often eaten with ham and melted cheese, such as gruyere.
However, the galette that most Americans will come in contact with is a flaky pastry with a fruit filling, rather like a tart. Instead of being prepared with the support of a pan or mold, the tart is rolled flat like a pizza, filled in the center, then folded or crimped around the edges to contain the filling.
Unlike crepes, galettes do not need eggs. The dough is a simple combination of all-purpose flour and butter, moistened with ice water to make a dry, almost crumbly dough, which is rolled flat then usually wrapped and chilled to allow the texture to consolidate.
To add the filling, the dough should be laid on parchment paper and filled in the center with slices of fruit, such as apples or apricots, drizzled with honey or sprinkled with sugar. Cornstarch can also be added to thicken the liquid where mature, soft fruit are used.
After filling, the galette’s edges can be folded inward or fashioned into an elaborate design. Ultimately, though, this is a rustic, unpretentious tart that doesn’t have to be fancy.
Once dressed, the tart needs to only bake for around 20 minutes in a hot oven, typically 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Brushing the dough with milk will give it glaze and flakiness.
Like crepes, galettes can be sweet or savory. Mature, syrupy fruit fillings are common, but with so few ingredients required, the galette also allows the opportunity to use up leftover vegetables, topped with cheese or bacon.