Sunday, 19 February 2012
Do you like to play with fire? If so, this is the recipe for you.
Do you like soft and wispy crêpes? Buttery caramel sauces? Bright and seasonal citrus? If so, you should make this dish.
It's pancake day or Strove Tuesday this week. As I've already written about my favourite brown butter crêpe recipe and made a Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake, I thought I would try something new.
Crêpes Suzette is a traditional French dish. Depending on who you believe, it was either developed in 1896 for the Prince of Wales and his female companion 'Suzette' by the chef Charpentier at Monte Carlo or - more likely - discovered at Restaurant Paillard in Paris in 1889 and named after an actress.
They're also made by Mrs Patmore in Downton Abbey, which adds a little glamour and yet another excuse to try them.
I served these with homemade cinnamon ice cream. I use David Lebovitz's fantastic recipe - you shatter a load of whole cinnamon quills into the base and steep it all overnight. The flavour is incredible. It works really well with a lot of wintery desserts so I try to keep a tub in the freezer.
I haven't written the recipe out as this is already a long one and I've probably written about too many Perfect Scoop recipes as it is. I really recommend you buy the book, I love it and use it all the time. (But, ahem, you can find the cinnamon recipe online in both US and metric here).
I know the recipe seems very long. It's not actually that complicated but I wanted to make sure everything was clear and you could work quickly and smoothly through it. If you prepare everything in advance - I made the crêpes and measured everything else - it's really easy to do with guests and they'll love the dramatic flames.
I've tried this using bought orange juice with a squeeze of lemon instead of fresh juice and it was nearly as good (I still served it with a slice of orange). The first batch of crêpes were half wholemeal but I preferred them with just plain for this. I've also tried it with both navel and blood oranges - both were delicious. I've made two batches of crêpes and four sets of the dish in the last three days - it's that good.
I don't think it's traditional to serve this with slices of orange or with ice cream but I think they finish the dish beautifully. The fresh orange brightens the taste and adds texture. The ice cream gives a creamy temperature contrast and the cinnamon melds beautifully with the caramel and citrus.
(Crêpes adapted from Delia's Complete Cookery Course, sauce adapted from Matthew Fort and Raymond Blanc here)
For the crêpes:
55g plain flour
extra butter for frying
For the sauce & to serve:
2 big oranges
60g caster sugar
good splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier
2 scoops of cinnamon ice cream (optional)
Melt the butter in a big, heavy-bottomed frying pan. Keep heating until the butter foams up and dies down and is full of rusty flecks. Pour into a bowl to cool.
Weigh the flour into a mixing bowl and whisk it to get rid of any lumps. Make a well in the centre and break the egg into it. Start whisking the egg into the flour, slowly incorporating more from around the edges. Once you have a thick paste (about half the flour will still be there), start adding the milk. Keep whisking and incorporating splashes of milk and more of the flour until you have a smooth batter. Whisk in the cooled butter. Add most of the water, reserving a little to adjust if needed.
Heat the frying pan up again and add a little bit of butter. Either transfer the crêpe mix to a jug or find a ladle. Once the pan is smoking hot turn the heat down a bit. Pour some of the mix into the pan at an angle and swirl quickly. Flip when starting to brown at the edges. Once browned on the bottom too, remove to a plate lined with a piece of kitchen paper. Repeat until you've got four crêpes you're happy with (you should have batter for about 6). You can now keep them covered in cling film in the kitchen paper (I dampen the top piece) for a few hours or proceed immediately.
Slice one of the oranges so that you have two slices from the middle to serve fresh, and two ends to juice. Carefully pull the peel off the two slices and set aside. Juice the rest of the orange, the other orange and the lemon into a measuring jug. You should have about 150ml of liquid.
Clean the pan that you made the crêpes in. Have everything ready - a whisk, some tongs or a fork to maneuver the crêpes, the butter, the juice, the crêpes, the alcohol, a small frying pan to heat it, matches, the garnishes, plates.
Scatter the sugar evenly over the surface of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat, shaking the pan slightly every now and then to maintain an even layer. Once the sugar has melted and begins to caramelise, scrape the sides down and swirl lightly so that the sugar colours evenly. Once it has reached a deep golden colour, take off the heat, add the butter all at once and whisk until smooth and frothy. Add the juice in two goes, whisking well between each - it may clump up a bit but will melt down in a minute. You'll have quite a bit of liquid.
Return to the heat. Add the first crêpe to the pan, then carefully turn it over with the tongs/fork, making sure it's totally soaked. Fold in half, then into quarters and move to the side of the pan. Repeat with the next three crêpes until the pan is full of the four quarters. Let the crêpes soak and the sauce reduce a little over the heat for about 1 minute, until you have a deep golden syrupy sauce. Transfer the crepes to the plates with some extra sauce. Add the orange slice and ice cream.
Turn off most of the lights in your kitchen. Quickly add a splash of alcohol to the small frying pan and heat until vapours start rising. Light a match and touch it just inside the pan. Blue flames will erupt - watch for the flickers of gold. Pour over the two plates while still flaming and serve immediately.