Why is the first crepe no good?
September 6, 2009 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Why is the first crepe no good?
posted by markcmyers to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It isn't? If the first few crepes you make don't look good, it's because the pan isn't in "crepe mode" yet. Not enough fat yet, slightly too hot, etc. They should still taste right, though, so you may as well eat them yourself.
posted by effbot at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2009

The scientist in me says: probably related to "seasoning" the pan, tempering the temperature and giving it a slight coating.

The traditionalist in me says: the damn dog is underfoot in the kitchen, I'd better give him somethiing quick to get him off my back.
posted by jkaczor at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

(The french have a saying that: "the first crepe is for the dog")
posted by jkaczor at 10:43 AM on September 6, 2009

Because the first crepe is the test run that tells the cook about the pan's temperature and stickiness. It's for practice.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Crepe Expectations... Alton Brown - [TRANSCRIPT]

Argh, but he doesn't actually say why the first crepe may be "off".
posted by jkaczor at 11:15 AM on September 6, 2009

Cook's Illustrated has an explanation for pancakes, I assume it's the same for crepes. Unfortunately, it's not linkable, but here's the gist of it:

When you put oil on a hot pan, it tends to bead up, coating some parts and leaving other parts uncoated. When you put your first ladle of batter in the pan, it cooks faster on the uncoated parts, so you get a blotchy appearance. By the time you're making the second round, the oil has undergone chemical changes from the heat, plus the first round absorbed any excess batter, so you get more even cooking.

They suggest that if you want all of the pancakes to come out evenly cooked, you leave the oil in the hot pan for at least a minute, then use a paper towel to wipe off the excess before cooking the first round.
posted by lore at 11:30 AM on September 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

What lore said. Too much oil buildup in the pan, and the pan isn't as evenly coated.
posted by ishotjr at 11:50 AM on September 6, 2009

Once I wrote a blogpost about that, heaping scorn on some TV cook who claimed this was because the pan wasn't hot enough. Someone wrote a comment and said the first crepe (pancake, whatever) must be offered to the pancake gods. If every other explanation fails, this is a comforting thought.

My theory, btw, is that the fat (or especially oil, if you use it) changes chemically - not from the heat, but after its first contact with frying batter - and thus turns into something less-pan-sticky after the first crepe. No idea if this is really true, but I do know that no amount of heating through and of trying to get a thorough even oil coating and all that, even of the best dedicated pancake cast-iron skillet, is a guarantee that things don't stick and burn.

My trick to solve the problem is to first make one very tiny pancake that (as I believe) makes the oil change in the intended manner. I have had pretty good results with that technique, and less waste of batter.
posted by Namlit at 1:00 PM on September 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

What other have said, more or less, but what works for me is to put a very small amount of oil into the cold pan and use a paper towel to wipe it around until the pan is evenly coated with only the smallest possible amount of oil. Then heat the pan for a good long time before adding the batter. It isn't just about getting the center of the pan to the target temperature. You want to get the whole thing evenly heated up.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 1:16 PM on September 6, 2009

Waffle irons do the same thing, first one goes to the dog or the compost.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:32 PM on September 6, 2009

I always assumed it was coz the pan hadnt reached the right temperature quite yet.
Also, im weird, i always liked the first pancake *best* when i was a child, so i dont think its inedible
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:32 PM on September 6, 2009

Aren't traditional crepe pans convex domes that you invert and dip into the batter rather than pour the batter into?

The inverted dome Crepe Pan and Dipping Station is the fastest and easiest way to create crepes and wraps.
Simply dip pan into the batter using the convenient Dipping Station, achieving only the thinnest coating of batter adheres to the pan, then heat over a stove top and serve.

The first crepes are bad because, when you first dip into the mixed batter, you get a crepe with very little batter due a layer of foam sitting on top of the mix.
posted by jamjam at 3:42 PM on February 28, 2010

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