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I know how to make crêpes, however they have some tendency to be a bit ugly aesthetically speaking.

Each time I go to a crêperie, I can see this kind of crêpes :

However, when I try myself, I often end up with something like this (but much more thicker) :

What can I do to improve my crêpe-fu ? Is it possible to achieve the prettiness of the first picture ?

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You are aware that the colors in the first picture are adjusted in photography postproduction, I hope :) Also note that they seem to be showing two first sides, and yours shows half a first and half a second side. –  rumtscho May 6 at 22:51
    
@rumtscho sure ! But even "in reality", the crêpes coming from real restaurants (at least in France) often have a much better appearance than the ones coming from my pan, and are very similar to those in the picture :) –  Maël Nison May 6 at 23:04
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The pictures of what you're making (and the comment that they're thicker) suggests to me that you're making a british / swedish / dutch pancake. Generally, those are spread w/ gravity by lifing the pan, while crêpe making may use a device to push around the batter to make it exceptionally thin. –  Joe May 7 at 1:11
    
@Joe It's hard to tell how thick these are in each picture, but I seem to be able to get them plenty thin by tilting the pan - as long as the batter isn't thicker than it's supposed to be. –  Jefromi May 7 at 2:31

2 Answers 2

Perfect crêpes are the result of lots of practice. Things you need to experiment with are:

  • Flour - getting just the right fine and freshly ground flour, plenty of wholemeal gives it a better texture. try putting the flour through a food processor to make sure it is equally fine
  • Standing time - the crêpe mixture needs to be left standing enough for flour particles to get wet, but not too long so that it goes gluey. About 30 minutes at room temp is the minimum, try around 2 hours for better results
  • Heat - what is the perfect heat for your pan or and its surface, you'll find this out over time and experimentation? It is usually around the 80% of maximum mark on a typical stove. Some of the best crêpes come from thick aluminium pans, with a low ridge, and a very slightly bumpy surface (a pattern of round humps about 6mm in diameter, and 0.2 mm high)
  • Butter - getting just the right amount of butter in the pan for each crêpe, too much and you deep fry it, too little, and it cooks too slowly. Use a brush to get an even thin layer on quickly. The butter fat acts as a heat transfer agent as well as a release agent
  • Spreading - use a T shaped spreader stick to get thin and even crêpes. Tilting the pan takes too long, and makes the heat uneven
  • Timing - crêpes continue to cook after you take them out of the pan if you are making a stack of them. Always go for slightly under-cooking, and therefore slightly higher heat to make them brown in the same time frame
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I'm sure a spreader works, but in my experience tilting the pan works fine too. You just have to make sure the batter's not too thick and that you don't put too much in the pan. –  Jefromi May 7 at 2:33
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@Jefromi Tilting the pan may work, but it wont get thin enough to get the even fine brown colour as per OPs request. Unless you have very watery batter, which then falls apart when served. Where's my -1? –  TFD May 7 at 2:39
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I don't think your advice is bad, I'm just saying I learned to make them a little differently. You're right that the browning isn't as good as in the first picture, but I think it's still pretty good, they seem plenty thin, and it's pretty easy, no extra tool or anything. –  Jefromi May 7 at 4:00
    
I also find more than one flip gets me better colour without burning. You want little enough batter that the pancake just, just doesn't have holes in it. A nice hot pan, just short of burning anything. –  vwiggins May 8 at 15:47

The trick, according to a French roommate from college, was thin batter temperature and a well (clarified) buttered pan.

The batter should feel almost too thin. I always thought that the batter was perfect and she would thin it just a little more.

The pan should be at just the right temperature (this will vary stove by stove). Your photos look like the temperature could be a little lower, but only just! The way she kept her pan perfectly buttered was using clarified butter, and used half of a yellow or red potato on a fork (think a nice waxy potato) to spread the butter. This allowed just the right amount of butter into the pan.

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