La Chandeleur, or Candlemas, is celebrated forty days after Christmas, on the 2nd of February. Like many religious holidays, Candlemas was originally a Pagan holiday celebrating the days becoming longer. People celebrated the « return of the light » with a procession by candlelight to their houses, and then, eating crêpes! Why crêpes? Their round shape and golden color symbolized the sun. And, crêpes don’t need many ingredients; they were made with the leftover flour from the preceding year’s harvest. The fête was « repurposed » by the Pope Gelasisus I in the fifth century to celebrate the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem. It is said that the Pope distributed crêpes to the pilgrims who arrived in Rome on Candlemas.
The French eat a lot of crêpes on la Chandeleur, and they get pretty superstitious while making them. It is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.
French proverbs for Chandeleur show some surprising similarities to the Groundhog Day predictions made in the US and Canada. A wintry Chandeleur means a longer winter, and a pleasant one, the opposite!
Here at the AUCP, we spent yesterday afternoon making LOTS of crêpes! With over a gallon of milk, two pounds of flour and several dedicated crêpe-makers, each student got to try his or her hand at flipping (and eating) crêpes! Students in the AUCP Cooking in Season class made crêpes last Friday evening in their first cooking class of the semester, and offered pointers to their classmates. Photos (and the recipe!) below.
This Recipe was offered to us by Bruno Ungaro, celebrated Provençal chef and teacher of the AUCP Cooking in Season hands-on cooking course.
- 250g finely-milled flour
- 50 cl milk + water to thin
- 50g melted butter
- 2 eggs
- Optional: For a sweeter version, add 100g sugar, a spoonful of vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of rum.
Let your imagination run wild! Favorite combinations are lemon & sugar, strawberries & whipped cream, Nutella & banana, honey, jam, caramel or melted chocolate!
Mix the flour and sugar, then incorporate the milk and egg little by little so as to avoid lumps. Add the hot melted butter last, mixing vigorously. You can use a blender or an electric mixer too. Once mixed, place the crêpe batter in the refrigerator for at least one hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crêpes will be less likely to tear.
Heat a flat non-stick pan. Pour a ladle of batter into the center of the hot pan and quickly swirl so that the batter spreads into a thin, even layer. A good crêpe should be translucent, so no pancakes here! If your batter is too thick, just add water to thin it out. Cook about a minute until lightly colored and flip gently. Cook for another thirty seconds, and remove. Continue until all of the batter is gone, stacking the crêpes as you go.
For a savory crêpe, you can substitute in whole-wheat flour, replace half of the milk with water & add salt to the batter. Then,while the crêpe is still in the pan, fill the crêpe your favorite ingredients. Often you’ll find some combination of ham, cheese, spinach, mushrooms and sometimes an egg! Delicately fold the crêpe around the filling and cook until the egg-white is solid and the cheese melted. Serve, and repeat!
This recipe posting is from Recettes de Famille, an AUCP student collection of delicious, easy-to-make recipes. Choosing their favorite dishes from their host families, students asked for the recipes, which often led to an impromptu cooking lesson in the family kitchen. They then transcribed and translated the recipe into English in order to share them with family and friends back home. The AUCP Le Blog regularly posts seasonal recipes from this, now impressive, collection of dishes. We sincerely hope you will enjoy them as much as the students who shared them with us did.