A crêpe is a thin pancake. A very thin pancake. Almost as thin as spring roll wrappers. A crêpe, like the thicker breakfast pancake, is made of flour, eggs, milk — and sugar for sweet (but not savory) crêpes.
Some cooks say that crêpe batter is different from regular pancake batter because it is richer usually made so with the inclusion of cream in the ingredients. Some cooks also claim that unlike pancake batter which can be cooked right after it is mixed, crêpe batter has to rest for several hours before it is poured into a hot pan. Whether or not both claims are correct, it remains true that crêpes are simply thin pancakes.
It is not the cooking vessel that makes a crêpe a crêpe. True, the popularity of crêpes has given birth to specialty cookware. The photo above shows a crêpe pan and spatula. That’s what we have at home. There are crêpe makers that constitute of an inverted hot plate that is dipped lightly in batter and the batter cooks upside down. No pan, no spatula. And the thin film that forms is a crêpe.
But, truth be told, even a regular frying pan is okay for making crêpes. Griddles are great too.
So, that’s it? If a pancake is very thin, it is a crêpe? Basically, yes — if you are in France or in places that use the term “crêpe” to refer to thin pancakes. If you are in some other part of the world, then, the thin pancake would be called something else even though it is similarly prepared and served as the French crêpe. If you were in Italy, for instance, order crespella instead of crêpe and you’d get a thin pancake. In Spain, it’s crepa; in Greece, it’s krépa. Etcetera.
Want to try making crêpes (or whatever you want to call them)? Check these out: