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Crepepans

Amazon link

Remarkable to find them all together like this, but these are the options I am considering.

  1. Hard-Anodized Aluminum
  2. Non-Stick (Teflon)
  3. Blue Steel (I've never even heard of it)
  4. Cast-Iron
  5. Carbon Steel

Until yesterday, I hadn't made a crepe in twenty years. A friend mentioned an interest in a Mille Crepe Cake

millecrepe Recipe

and, I have to admit, I'm a bit intrigued too. So I played a little and quickly had lovely crepes, but they weren't uniform enough to stack twenty of them to make such a fussy cake. So then I looked at crepe pans.

The pan will only be used for crepes and pancakes, and I can't imagine that it would ever be used more than 6 or 7 times a year. That being the case, I'm leaning towards the Teflon. It's the least expensive option and doesn't require seasoning. But, if I'm going to go to the trouble of making 20+ crepes for a cake, I want to make the best possible crepes! Is there anything else I should consider? I have an electric coil stove.

  • I have to say, this is the first time I've encountered the notion that a palacsintatorta is "fussy". But then, Hungarians don't tend to make nearly as big a deal out of palacsinta as the French do out of crepes. – Marti Jul 28 '14 at 16:55
  • @Marti Yeah, those French chefs have to make a big deal out of everything! :) – Jolenealaska Jul 28 '14 at 18:37
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As long as you don't use metal tools with the teflon, I don't see why you shouldn't just go with that. Iron or steel would have to be very well seasoned (think cooking scrambled eggs). Besides, for $15 you aren't out a lot of money if it doesn't work out.

Edited to add: Teflon is when Alton Brown went with in the crepes episode of Good Eats.

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    Alton Brown often has very sage advice. I'd add that if you have a choice between Teflon options, you may want to look at weight. An overly thin pan will probably wind up with hot spots (see cooking.stackexchange.com/a/1076/25059) leading to unevenly cooked crepes. All else being equal, you'll get more even heat distribution with thicker material. – logophobe Jul 28 '14 at 15:58
  • Alton is such a nut :) The transcripts are fun, but boy I miss having all of the episodes available on YouTube. – Jolenealaska Jul 28 '14 at 18:32
  • A thin pan also tends to warp, which leads to even more uneven heat distribution. – rackandboneman Nov 13 '15 at 9:11
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If you want perfect crepes, iron is the way to go.

You don't need the super high temperatures achievable by iron. In fact, if you get the temperature too high, your crepe will throw bubbles. But for perfect browning, you want the large thermal mass of the iron quickly baking the crepe. Teflon produces much paler crepes, and because you have to leave them on for longer, they also can dry out and become papery (if your batter was dryish) or leathery (if the batter was more fluid).

Carbon steel (and blue steel, which is used roughly interchangeably), is not so practical a choice. It also makes very good crepes if handled properly. But you need a perfectly tuned procedure to not overheat the pan. An overheated cast iron pan will make an unsightly crepe, after which you reduce the temperature. An overheated carbon steel pan (or forged iron pan) is likely to warp, possibly permanently.

I don't think the anodized aluminium will be nonstick enough for crepes which separate from the pan by themselves (although I never tried it for myself). Although iron is sometimes brushed with oil, you should never make crepes with a real layer of oil, because then they fry instead of baking.

The teflon can work, especially if the pan below it is heavy steel instead of thin aluminium. But I have only ever encountered crepe pans of the thin kind. And besides, it just doesn't transfer heat as quickly to the crepe, as mentioned above. And don't forget that you'll probably overheat the pan a few times unless you standardize your procedure perfectly (which is hard to achieve if you are not making crepes frequently), and teflon dies when overheated. I once got a cheap alu/teflon crepe pan as a gift and had to throw it out after a single use.

Keeping this information in mind, I don't know if you even need a new pan. I make my crepes in a standard cast iron pan. The only downside is that they can grow up a bit of lacy edge up the pan side, but this is easily cut off. The advantage you get with a professional crepe maker with iron plates are no walls for batter to creep up, and probably more even heating than a resistive stove. But the things are huge and expensive.

A low-wall crepe pan lets you insert a spatula for turning more easily, but still makes the lacy ridges. Besides, the wrong material makes the end result worse than the normal skillet. And American style cast iron pans are typically lowsided (even though not as low as a crepe pan), so getting a spatula in is not a problem.

So, unless you have a professional creperie, you probably already have the best tool in your kitchen. If your crepes are not getting uniform enough, you can consider buying a wooden spreader only, and spread the batter with it instead of tilting the pan.

  • Aarrgghh...and just when I thought I had made up my mind! – Jolenealaska Jul 28 '14 at 18:33
  • Regarding the browning: There are two very distinct styles of crepes ... the slightly crispy edged, well-browned sort and the softer, paler more eggy sort. If you prefer the pale-style (probably more appropriate for the mille crepe cake you mention) then teflon is probably a fine choice. For something you're only going to use a few times a year and it seems unnecessary to get a separate item for your kitchen with the main goal of making more uniform size crepes. Just use your existing pan and trim the crepes to size if necessary. – Allison Jul 28 '14 at 18:56
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I could not imagine a better pan than the top of my Lodge Double Dutch oven. Thhe cover is a shallow rounded edge skillet. I make my batter with the melted butter blended in and my skillet needs no butter. I am totally against using Teflon skillets and my carefully cared for iron is far superior than Teflon or ceramic. I am very proud of watching my family eat my perfect crepes. I keep a jar of batter in the fridge, give it a good shake and it takes no longer than pop tarts to make. Fresh fruit, greek yogurt, butter, Splenda and cinnamon is my fave.

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