10 February 2012

Crêpes au sarrasin (galettes bretonnes)

The gluten-free flour that is called sarassin or blé noir in France is used especially to make savory crêpes (thin pancakes). Blé noir literally means "black wheat" and it's what we call "buckwheat" in English, but it fact it's not a kind of wheat at all. Buckwheat crêpes are often called galettes (or galettes bretonnes) in France and come specifically from Brittany.

The reason buckwheat is called sarrasin is that the plant was supposedly brought back to France by the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. At the time, Europeans called the people of the Middle East "Saracens" and had found them growing buckwheat and eating the seeds as a cereal or grinding them into flour.

We recently acquired a new, larger crepe pan for making
galettes. The smaller pan is for making dessert crepes.

Buckwheat flour alone can be used to make pancakes, or it can be mixed with wheat flour. A typical recipe calls for just buckwheat flour, egg, salt, and water or milk, to make a thin batter. I posted a recipe back in 2009. Here's a gluten-free version:

Gluten-free buckwheat crepes from Brittany

4 cups (500 g) buckwheat flour
2 tsp. (5 g) salt
1 egg
3 cups (700 ml) water
Put the buckwheat flour and salt in a big mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Drop in the egg. Gradually stir in the water and then beat the batter to make it a little frothy. Let the batter rest for at least an hour. If it's too thick, stir in more water before cooking. [You want it pretty liquid to make thin pancakes.]

Film a lightly oiled non-stick pan with a very thin layer of batter and let it cook for three minutes on one side. Turn it over and cook it for three minutes on the other side. Stack the cooked pancakes on a plate covered with a dishtowel.

To finish the pancakes, put each one back into the pan, lay on a slice of ham (or two or three strips of cooked bacon), and sprinkle grated cheese over all. Fold up the edges of the pancake to make it into a square shape (see picture) and let the cheese melt.

Optionally, add sliced, cooked mushrooms and/or break an egg onto the center of each crepe. As you fill the pancakes, put them in a low to medium-hot oven to wait until you're ready to take them to the table.
If you're not worried about gluten, you can replace about a quarter of the buckwheat flour with regular wheat flour for a different texture.


  1. THAT post is going on to our FB page if so permitted.

    Not only a recipe, but some explanation and history for those who are gluten intolerant.

  2. I made Ble Noir pancakes for Chandeleur.... using a small bottle of beer instead of water or milk... lovely! It will be repeated... also, if you put oil [Vigean Fruity and Nuts in this case] in the batter mix, you don't even need to oil these newer non-stick pans. For me Shrove Tuesday [pancake day in the UK] was the day.... that is now over... I'm making pancakes more often from now on... and the fillings on these looks great.

  3. Interesting post and thanks for the recipe. Diane

  4. Ken, since you're in the kitchen today, can I ask a question? The recipe I'm going to use for pâte sablée calls for "sucre impalpable," presumably confectioners sugar. Why use fine sugar in a recipe where graininess is part of the point? The recipe even says don't work it too much so it doesn't lose "sablé."

    What type of sugar would you use? Thanks.

  5. I love that bit of Crusades/Saracen history you threw in there. Great photo--looks scrumptious!

    Enjoy your crepes!

  6. Ken

    Don't know whether it is the picture or an optical illusion from the angle it was taken , but is the larger pan a bit lop-sided at the rim so that the cooked crêpe can slid off .

  7. Carolyn, I just looked up "sucre impalpable" which I've never heard of before. Apparently it's a Belgian term for "sucre glace" or confectioners sugar, as you said. I wouldn't use that in a pâte sablé, however. I just use regular granulated sugar.

  8. Carolyn, what Walt said.

    The Beav, yes, that crepe pan has a lower lip on the side away from the handle, presumably to make it easier to slide the crepe out once it is cooked.

    Tim, I'll have to try beer instead of water in making buckwheat crepes.

  9. Luckily, I am neither gluten nor lactose intolerant.

  10. Saracen savory crêpes with eggs! Good comfort food!

    I'm hungry!

    Mary in Oregon


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