I have no idea why this dish is named after a convent, other than to imagine that cultivation of fruit trees was common in the convents and monasteries of feudal Europe. In Joan Morgan’s Book of Pears: The Definitive History and Guide of Over 500 Varieties, pears are routinely described as growing in the grounds of ecclesiastical premises in the Middle Ages. This etymology makes further sense when we consider that it has always been monks that have excelled at making booze, particularly cider and perry, which are derived from apples and pears respectively.
This crêpe recipe has the honour of being the first one listed in Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire. Making it is not completely easy because the pears disrupt the mechanical integrity of the crêpe, and they have a tendency to stick to the pan after the pancake is turned over. The solution is to use a lot of butter to keep the pan oiled, and not to try to turn the pancake back over to serve. Leave the pear hidden under the finished galette. A pair of buttered plates can help to move and turn the pancake if you have bother with it.
Crêpes du couvent
- 125g plain flour, sifted
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- A small pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 300ml milk
- A little butter
- 2 ripe pears apples, peeled and diced to 5mm
Whisk the all ingredients apart from the butter and pears with half the milk to combine, and then whisk in the rest of the milk to make a batter. Resist the temptation to use a blender as it will over-activate the gluten in the flour and stop the batter from running properly in the pan. Set aside for a while.
Very lightly cook the apple slices in a pan with a little butter, just to soften them. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a crêpe pan until foaming. Add a ladle of batter and spread out either by moving the pan or using a wooden spreader. Quickly sprinkle over some of the pear bits, and spread over a little more of the batter. Cook for few moments until browning, and then flip the pancake over in the pan to cook the other side. With crêpes du couvent, it is pointless trying to re-flip to present the dish with the pear side up because it will end badly.
Fold onto a plate once cooked and serve with ice cream or Chantilly cream.
This recipe uses Escoffier's crêpe mix 'A,' which is the same one used for crêpes à la Normande and crêpes Suzette.