A crepe is a quick bread made from a very runny batter that's spread out as thinly as possible in a pan specially made for that purpose. Other types of pancakes--as well as other breakfast foods such as French toast, bacon, eggs or sausage--are often cooked on a griddle. A crepe pan is always round, while a griddle can be round, square, or rectangular. Both are available as either stove-top or electric models.
Crepe Pan Specifications
A basic stove-top crepe pan is roughly 8 inches in diameter, has a flat bottom coated with a non-stick finish, a heat-proof handle and a low rim to prevent spills during cooking. It's made of a light metal, such as aluminum or stainless steel, to make it easy to handle. Electric models feature a heating unit powered by a detachable cord, a single or double non-stick cooking area, and a low lid that eliminates the need to flip the crepes halfway during the cooking process. The stove-top pan is preheated on top of the stove, while the electric model is preheated according to the manufacturer's directions.
A griddle offers a larger cooking area than a standard crepe pan, with rectangular models measuring up to 18 inches long and 9 inches wide. Smaller round or square models measure from 9 to 12 inches, and all have flat surfaces and very low rims, as foods prepared on them cook very quickly and generally don't create spills. Small stove-top models fit over a single burner, while the larger sizes fit over two burners. Electric griddles feature a heating element powered by a detachable cord. Different types of metals are used to manufacture stove-top griddles, from aluminum and stainless steel with non-stick coatings to cast iron. Electric griddles are constructed from aluminum or steel, also coated with a non-stick finish.
While a rectangular griddle doesn't function exactly like a crepe pan, you can still use a griddle in a pinch as long as you remember to keep the melted butter and batter from spreading too much once they hit the hot cooking surface. In this regard, the crepe pan produces roughly the same results each time by keeping the batter contained in a round shape in a well-greased pan. If you make crepes on a griddle, you'll need a spatula to turn them halfway through the cooking process, just as you do in a crepe pan if you're not experienced enough to flip it like a pro. Smaller stove-top griddles are heavier by design, to keep them from moving around during cooking, so they're a less-than-desirable choice for making crepes. You can, however, make crepes in any type of small skillet as long as it has a non-stick finish.
Crepe batter is a simple blend of flour, melted butter, eggs and milk. The ingredients are best mixed using a standard or immersible blender or wire whisk, as they must be completely free of lumps. Place the stove-top crepe pan on medium-high heat just long enough to melt about 1 tsp. of butter, and rotate the pan so it coats the entire bottom. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter quickly into the pan and again tilt it so the batter coats the entire bottom of the pan and runs up the sides. Place the pan back on the stove and watch until the top of the crepe starts to dry. Turn it over with a spatula or with the flip method and cook the other side for just a minute or two. The entire process should take no more than three to four minutes per crepe. If you're using an electric crepe maker, simply pour the batter into the cooking area, and follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the cooking time.
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