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I make a thin pancake/crepe mixture of eggs + flour + milk.

Based on the first crepe that is cooked, how can you know which of the ingredients to add more of to the batter to get a better result for the next one?

For example, just made a weird spongey crepe, with the dark colours being too brown (I expect a more golden color), that breaks extremely easily around the shape of a spatula under it (with good crepes I've made, they break along a line of their own choosing if they break at all, not cutting a stencil out of themselves around something lifting them up)

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In general, based on what the pancake looks like (symptoms), how can I know what's wrong with the ratio of ingredients?

Markers that I've noticed before that might be symptomatic of obvious problems with the ingredients ratio:

  • too pitted instead of smooth
  • the brown parts look burnt-brown instead of golden brown
  • not stretchy or elastic at all
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    There are other variables as well. When working with flour and liquid in general, you have to consider hydration time and amount of mixing. When working with batters, a resting step is common. This may even be in the fridge - so the temperature at which it hits the pan is also relevant. The surface temperature of the pan also matters (and the first one never comes out perfect). So the ingredient ratio could be perfect and still give a result that's not what you want. More details on the method please, particularly the points I mentioned
    – Chris H
    Aug 11, 2023 at 10:33
  • The ‘too pitted’ and darkness issue means to me that you should turn the heat down. The not elastic may mean that you need to let it sit longer to develop gluten. (Or have mixed it more initially)
    – Joe
    Aug 11, 2023 at 12:45
  • I was always taught that crepes [& Yorkshire pudding] should be made at room temperature & stood at room temperature afterwards. I always let mine stand 2 hours. We need to know your ratios though - pancake batter is pretty relaxed about absolute measurement - for instance, 'how big is an egg?' yet no matter, it comes out about the same every time.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 11, 2023 at 13:57

2 Answers 2

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Based on my own experience making hundreds of crepes, I'd diagnose two things causing problems with your crepes:

  1. There's not enough flour compared with other ingredients, or you're not allowing sufficient hydration time.
  2. The pan is too hot, and unevenly heated.

Crepes that have too little gluten are fragile and hard to manage. For example, one can make a crepe using only milk, but that crepe will be super-duper delicate and needs to be made in a nonstick pan and "teased" out of it. If you leave insufficient hydration time (minimum 30 minutes, a couple hours is better), then the batter will behave as if you put in no flour at all.

The heat problem is diagnosable from your photo. First, the bubbling on the underside of the crepe is intense (there are no smooth stretches of batter anywhere), which is a sign of the pan being very very hot when you drop it in. Having too little flour contributes to be bubbling. Second, those burned brown areas in the center say that the pan is not evenly heated, but is likely 30C or more hotter in the center than elsewhere. Too much heat would also contribute to the crepe being stiff and brittle.

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I agree with the "too high a temperature" assessment by FuzzyChef. This is what causes the pustules.

For the cakiness, this might be a ratio problem indeed. It can be caused by not enough eggs. Especially if you're using the method of starting with some eggs, then alternatively adding flour and milk until the thickness starts looking right, you will probably have too few eggs in the end.

I wouldn't call the color too dark. But if it's really a problem, and it doesn't disappear with lower temperatures, you can make pale crepes by changing to a thin aluminum pan. Cast iron and blue steel give color to crepes.

As a final note, consider that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are good recipes out there, with solid ratios. My preferred one is 1:2:4 flour:egg:milk, and it gives great results, even with alternative flours (zero gluten or thickeners). Ruhlman's Ratio prescribes 1:2:2, but with the low liquid, it always makes rather thick crepes, more Austrian than French style.

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  • are those ratios mass or volume?
    – minseong
    Aug 17, 2023 at 12:34
  • @theonlygusti mass, I don't use volume unless I have no other choice.
    – rumtscho
    Aug 17, 2023 at 12:57

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