Tutorial: Crepes {& Smith Family Thin Cakes}

As Kate mentioned in her Caramel Cake post, this week as an ode to Father’s Day, we’re sharing signature recipes from our own fathers!  Now looking at the picture to the right that might seem strange, but stick with me here.

Growing up I had no idea what a “crepe” was.  But what I did know was “Thin Cakes”.  They were my Dad’s most famous dish and everyone in our family looked forward to thin cake Saturdays when he would stand at the stove-top with an enormous bowl of batter and a few hot skillets in front of him.  The rest of us would stand around the island just waiting to be next in line for a hot one to land on our plate.  He never used a recipe, but rather “a little of this and some of that, but not too much of that…etc”  The thin cake tradition, as I understand it, started with my Dad’s family when he was just a boy.  They would meet on the family farm and make Thin Cakes, a recipe passed down from his Aunt’s Danish heritage.  My Dad always told us a story about his uncle saying “Boy, you must have a wooden leg because I don’t know where else you’re stuffing so many thin cakes!” To this day no one makes a thin cake quite like my Dad Bill, but I think I’ve come up with a darn good recipe.

Growing up I assumed everyone ate Thin Cakes, but it wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized that was a family specialty.  I also learned that the rest of the world knew something nearly identical but by a much fancier reputation: Crepes.  I learned that essentially we were eating crepes, but in a slightly non-traditional form (explained below) and years of Thin-Cake making actually trained me to be one heck of a crepe maker!

Some people are intimidated by crepes, but they couldn’t be easier.  Like many foods, success is really in the technique.   So below I’ll show you some of my tips to get perfect crepes every time.  I’ve also used fancy recipes and fancy equipment, but this recipe is the most basic form that any home cook can make.  Chances are you have everything you need right now!   Eggs, sugar, oil, flour, and milk.

Here we go…

Mixing a Lump-Free Batter:  A good batter is essential for a good crepe.  While lumps are just fine (and sometimes desired) in pancake batter, it’s not such a plus in crepes.  For this recipe you can throw everything in a blender, but if you’re doing it by hand, follow these tips for lump-free batter every time.

1.  First mix eggs, sugar, and oil.

2.  While whisking, slowly add flour.  The problem most people have is that they add everything at once and there is too much liquid for the flour to break up so it stays in clumps.  Keep adding flour and whisking.  You’ll have a very thick paste (but no lumps!)  The resistance is what helps incorporate all of the flour.

3. Keep adding flour until it’s becoming too thick to whisk, then slowly add milk a little at a time and whisk to incorporate.  If you still have some flour left, alternate it with the milk.

When everything is whisked together you should have a lump-free batter.  It will be very thin.  A very common mistake people make with crepes is adding too much flour because they’re used to a pancake or waffle batter consistency.  Growing up making these with my Dad, he always told me the consistency was the key and he was right!

The Pan: I have a fancy crepe pan, but the pan I use most often is a regular ol’ non-stick skillet.  You can vary the size depending on how large you want the finished product.  I keep a stick of butter with the wrapper half off right next to it for easy greasing.  Just give the hot pan a quick rub and then pour in your batter.  It’s essential that your pan is pre-heated before you put the batter in.

This is the other key element.  Don’t use too much batter! Again, people are used to making pancakes here.  You only want just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan.  Hold the pan with one hand and the batter with the other and as you pour the thin batter, twirl the pan around in a circular motion just until the batter coats the entire bottom.   You don’t need to actually measure the batter, you just want to pour it in, but in case you’re needing a visual, I’ve noted that you’ll need roughly these amounts for the skillet size:

8″ skillet: 2 1/2 Tablespoons batter
10″ skillet: 3 1/2 Tablespoons batter

Cooking and Flipping: Again, I have an official wooden “Crepe Flipper” but a rubber spatula is what I use most.  Look at the edges of my crepe in the picture below.  It doesn’t take long at all for the crepe to set and you’ll be able to run the edge of your spatula around the entire edge of the crepe.  One you can do that and it easily lifts, you can then flip.  I use my spatula to gently lift up the edge and then I grab it with my fingers and just flip it over.

Cooking the second side literally only takes about 15 seconds and after that you can flip it onto a plate.  Either keep them warm in the oven or stack them and let them cool.

Thin Cakes:  Alright, I promised “Thin Cake” details.  In our house growing up a thin cake was made in the largest pan we had.  They were as big as the plate.  And they’re eaten hot off the skillet.  Right when it gets plopped on your plate, do this:

After that’s rubbed around, dump some maple syrup on it,

and then roll it up burrito style.  I know, super complicated.

But that thin, buttery, syrup-y roll is heaven on earth I tell ya.  There was a time during my second pregnancy when I ate these every. single. day.  Almost always at about 4pm.  My then 2 1/2 year old knew the recipe by heart!  In fact,  we eat thin cakes way more often than we eat pancakes or waffles.

If you want to take a more traditional route and eat “crepes” then you can make them pretty.  You can fill and either fold them up into quarters, or roll burrito style.  They can also be made ahead of time.  Just stack them between sheets of waxed paper, pop them in a zip-lock bag, and store in the fridge or freezer.

Crepes can be eaten either savory or sweet, and hot or cold.  Most people in the US are used to sweet crepes, but meat,cheese, and vegetable fillings are delicious too!  More traditional sweet fillings you can try are pastry cream, pudding, nutella, the chocolate mousse from this cake, and fruit of all kinds.  Try topping with Strawberry Sauce, Buttermilk Caramel Syrup, Hot Fudge, or just a dusting of powdered sugar and sweetened whipped cream.


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  1. My very very favorite to-die-for topping for a crepe is my mom's homemade chokecherry syrup (similar to elderberry if you've never heard of it), and softened cream cheese. Oh, I LOOOOOVE!!

  2. Syrup? Are you people out of your minds? The IDEAL topping for Crepes (and I'm gonna assume for Thin Cakes and Swedish Pancakes as we called them growing up) is….


    My favorite combo is Nutella with bananas and whipped cream or Nutella with strawberries and whipped cream.

    It's mostly just important to have NUTELLA!


    P.S. Here in Japan you can get savory crepes with fishy fillings! YUM! (for them.)

    P.P.S. I make my Crepes/Swedish Pancakes with whole wheat, soy milk, and no sugar these days. Helps off-set the guilt of having what is essentially a dessert for dinner. (We're Brinner fans around here.)

    1. EXACTLY!! I wanted to know what was wrong with these people! Nutella is the way to go! It’s soooo delicious! I love it with bananas too! And it’s more authentic. That’s how I had them in Paris. 🙂

  3. Ok girls… it's my birthday this weekend and I plan on cooking entirely from this site! I'll post some pics next week and let you know how it goes!!! My mom and I are gonna tackle this one together (with my sister who is visiting too)!

    Saturday morning we are gonna start off at 6am with a trip to a blackberry farm! I see a blackberry galette in our future!

    HUGS and thanks for the many many many amazing recipes and tips!


  4. Wow! Someone else had thin pancakes growing up! My family has a recipe for thin pancakes & whenever I make them for someone else, I have to tell them they're similar to crepes! But the best way to eat them is to put lots of butter & then sugar– and if a buttery sugary mixture drips very slowly out the bottom as you eat them (rolled up), then you know you did it right 🙂

  5. my dad made crepes every sunday while i was growing up… i think he still does. i think its the 'frenchie' in him. he always makes his batter in the blender. maybe i'll have to make some this week to honor him. thanks for sharing!

  6. I have always made these, and grew up eating them as well. When my kids were small and I made them for the kids, they just called them "roll up things." So that is what they are known as at our house. My daughter, when she was old enough to write, got the recipe out and crossed out the original title and wrote in "Roll up Things."

  7. My mom made these all growing up, but we called them "Swedish pancakes." And we filled ours with strawberries and whipped cream–mmmmmm. My husband is the designated crepe-maker at our house, so I don't know if these will work for Father's Day . . . 🙂

  8. My grandpa made these, "Danish Hotcakes" every Christmas morning. I love them! We also put syrup on them, or butter and sugar. But my new favorite is pears and chocolate sauce. Yum

  9. I love crepes! We make them Christmas morning and I love to fill mine with sausage and powdered sugar and them smother them in syrup! So good!

  10. Interesting that a lot of comments are about dads/grandpas making these…my dad also made these for us growing up, but in our house, they were "skinny pancakes" (I have 2 brothers who have asperger's syndrome, so change is UNwelcome-renaming these was the only way dad could get them to even try them) *Side note-French toast was renamed "pan toast"

    My fav filling-2 Tbsp cottage cheese, and 1-2 tsp favorite jam, then roll burrito-style and dust with powdered sugar if you like it sweeter. YUM!

  11. I had to laugh when I read this post. We had "jelly rolls" all the time growing up (my Austrian great-grandmother's specialty). I was a very confused young adult when I realized my "jelly rolls" were actually crepes and everyone else's jelly rolls were something else entirely.

  12. My favorite crepe filling is some sweetened cream cheese in the center. Then you roll up the crepe and put homemade apple pie filling on top. YUM!

  13. Being Polish, my mom never made pancakes. Instead we always had crepes for breakfast on the weekends. Or sometimes, when I begged, for dinner. When I went to my first sleepover and realized that pancakes were actually much thicker and not as delicious tasting, I realized that I was in the minority. Crepes are much more decadent and delectable.

    Ideal toppings? Ummm NUTELLA with strawberries and homemade whip.

  14. Swedish Pancakes as we call them is my absolute favorite Saturday evening meal from growing up. The picture with the butter and syrup are exactly how we ate them. Can't wait to make them again. My family love them. I took pictures of my mom making them the last time she made them for us before she passed away and had her write the recipe 3 times in her handwriting so each of my kids would have it directly from her hand.

  15. When I was a kid, my mom had a crepe maker. It was like a plug in frying pan, except instead of being concave, it was convex. You just heated it up, the dipped the whole convex surface in the batter, waiting a couple of minutes, then peeled off your perfect crepe. I'm totally going to search for it & steal it next time I go home.. dad's not allowed stuff like this for breakfast anyway…

  16. What a coincidence. This is my dad's specialty too! He always made them saturday mornings for us. He gets a little crazy with the fillings though. Sausage biscuit sauce, spaghetti sauce etc as well as the normal. Since I've married and moved away I crave these things. But every time I try to make them I ruin them. I can't seem to get them to swirl around the pan. Am I using too little or is the pan too hot? Help! I want these so much my teeth hurt!

    1. When I made these my first time only a few turned out. Most of them were either burnt or a mushy mess. But the second time I made them they were sooo good! I found that when I put too much batter in the pan, I couldn’t flip the crepes. Also make sure you butter/spray the pan every time.

  17. Stacey, it could be a combination of both of those things. Are you using a non-stick pan? That helps, as does buttering it well. Then just keep pouring batter until you get it to cover the bottom- you may just not be using enough. Good luck!

  18. Love crepes- the recipe I have makes them a little too thick though. Can't wait to try this. I'm featuring this recipe tomorrow- thanks for sharing!

  19. I love crepes! I've tried them a few times and they've always tasted great but I've never truly loved the ones I make. They're never as thin as I'd like them. Maybe this recipe will be "the one" for me! Thanks!

  20. Your dad is the best, Sara…AND he cooks? Fabulous 🙂 I think you're my new hero for admitting you ate these so often during your pregnancy- that's awesome 🙂 (I'm waaay too lazy to do anything that ambitious 🙂 Hope everything is going well!

    BTW…best crepe topping ever is a bit of sugar and lemon juice, then fold it up so the sugar melts…amazing.

  21. In my family we make something similiar, but call it egg pancakes. I like them much more than a traditional crepe – they are more rich. We make the batter in a blender, and use a regular pan to cook them in, but we never use syrup. It may sound strange, but we either use butter and sugar, or jelly and sometimes with a strip of bacon down the center with the jelly and rolled up like a burrito. A family favorite for sure!

  22. Ok here it goes. I was given a link to your blog about 5 weeks back by someone who made the chocolate mousse cake (which was obviously divine). I almost went out of my mind as I perused the site and couldn't wait to get started cooking and baking! The mint brownies and thai peanut noodles were among the first of the recipes I tried, and how could I go back from there?! In just over a month, I've use 19 of your recipes! I can't be stopped! Everything is so cilantro-y and garlic-y and chocolate-y and just utterly heavenly. I made these crepes tonight for dinner/dessert, and I just knew it was time to tell you how I feel. I love everything about this website and your recipes, and I could not be happier about finding your blog. I've always loved baking (and eating), but now I LOVE it and I LOVE cooking too, and as a new mommy of a 10 month old, it was just getting to the point where I needed to find something I love doing, while being at home. Anyway, that was a crazy rant, but I just thought you both should know how much you are impacting people's lives! I'm serious! Can't wait to see what's to come!

  23. I think I might try these out. I have had horrible experiences with crepes in the past, I can never figure out the proper time to flip them.

  24. I made these this morning with nutella and bananas and they were delicious and super easy! So glad I can add crepes to my repetoire! Thanks for sharing!

  25. I LOOOVE crepes. I use melted butter in my crepes instead of oil. and i use vanilla extract. I love to put nutella in them or peanut butter mixed with a little powdered sugar !

  26. I have been making crepes with a different recipe for about a year now – I like this one MUCH better! The texture is so tender and crispy in the middle and fabulous. I ate 5 of them by myself after dinner tonight (each with a different filling). A spoonful of nutella is a clear winner.

  27. I am going to try this recipe this weekend. I make them all the time but yours look different than how mine turn out. We always put a flavored yogurt inside with fresh blackberries or strawberries, roll them up and top it with powdered sugar and chopped pecans. They are tradition for General Conference. I love your blog by the way. Go to it nearly everyday! Thanks for all the good tips!

  28. Holy crepe! Making these this morning was madness with two snotty kiddos & a sleepy dad but my "terrible two-year-old" sous chef got so excited when he found me digging for my whisk that my sometimes unwisely supportive husband decided Aunt Jemima could have the morning off. A stubbed toe, a time out, my eight month old little girl saying momma for the first time & about an hour and a half later… We had crepes! Plain butter & maple syrup crepes but they were delish! I'll take another run at them on a morning when everyone sleeps in & get fancy with the filling.

  29. Mmmmm! I love this Smith tradition! Growing up my mom would always make these and when she did, she would tell us the story of Uncle Bill and how he just kept eating and eating thin cakes. My brothers, still to this day try to beat Uncle Bill's record. I just made these this past Saturday and it still is "a little of this and a little of that" around these parts in Nevada. Lol. And they never get old! Mmmm!

  30. when I was growing up we used to make crepes only slightly thicker and then take butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and the roll them up. we dubbed them roll up pancakes and still have them every year for Christmas breakfast.

  31. I made these for lunch today and they were fabulous! We filled them with ham and cheese- so yummy! Quick question though, what is the best way to store and reheat them if you have leftovers that have already been filled?
    Thanks again for the super yummy recipes!

  32. These are lovingly referred to in our home as “Daddy Pancakes”. Every Sunday after church my husband makes crepes for the family and the kids have just always called them that so they don’t accidentally “order” the regular type of pancakes that are called, “Mommy Pancakes”.

  33. We fill ours with “sticks” of ice cream, put them in the freezer, and serve them with hot fudge (or caramel) and nuts! We got the idea from a restaurant in Olympia, Washington called Falls Terrace. You have to buy ice cream in square cartons and cut it into 1 inch slices, then 1 inch “sticks”. Sometimes we top them with sliced strawberries. It’s our kids’ favorite birthday dessert!

  34. Crepes are my husband’s specialty (he served an LDS mission in France). We usually fill them with Nutella, sliced bananas, REAL whipped cream and crushed almonds. DELICIOUS!

  35. I grew up calling these Hungarian Pancakes and then discovered that others called them crepes. They are my kids favorite food and ask for them for dinner as well as breakfast. Although I use a slightly different recipe, I do them just like you! 8″ no-stick skillet (10″ seems a little too big), not too much flour,& lots of butter!! My kids like them plain, with jam, or with powdered sugar. Yum!! Maybe that’s what I’ll make for dinner tomorrow when the whole family comes!

  36. I just made these last week and paired them with Kate’s Mediterranean Egg Scramble = YUMMY!!! Loved the eggs (I’m not usually an egg fan) and loved the crepes!

  37. I am from the Utrecht, The Netherlands and this is pretty much the only way we eat pancakes. We put a thicker syrup on it, roll it up, then shake powder sugar on top. Another thing I used to do it put brown sugar on the pancake and roll it up. My favorite is eating it plain. And its so funny that there every kids party has crepes (we call it pancakes).

  38. My parents are from Germany, so crepes have always been….you guessed it, German Pancakes. Your crepes are almost identical but he insisted on cooking them in vegetable oil, his poor fore arms! Splatter alert! But the only way I knew to eat them was with applesauce and cinnamon and sugar, wrapped like a burrito. Still my favorite way but I am loving the new combos! Thanks for all your delicious posts!

  39. Just made these for breakfast and they were a huge hit! I am tired of the usual pancakes, muffins or french toast and was wanting something a little different. This hit the spot. We love your recipes, please keep them coming!

  40. Wow! These crepes were AMAZING and really easy! Me and my sis put fresh raspberries, hot maple syrup, and coconut whipped cream (leftover from your coconut lime cheesecake which by the way was DELISH!) and it was to die for!!!!

    Oh and I just been meaning to say…..I absolutely LOVE this website! I’m 16 and I’ve always liked to cook but it wasn’t until my mom bought your cookbook that I really started LOVING it! Each of us kids has our own “dinner night” at our house where we pick and make dinner. So whenever it was my turn I just turned to your book! And i loved every single recipe (except for the ones I screwed up on which kinda happens a lot lol! 🙂 But I’ve got years to learn right?) Anyway I was in heaven with all those yummy recipes….but that was before I found this blog and HOLY COW!! I just can’t tell you how much I love everything on here! You two are amazing!!! I love just looking at the mouth watering pictures and I can’t wait to make every recipe!! Haha I’m kinda on this website a lot and sometimes my mom’ll ask me to get off the computer….”Mom I’m just on Best Bites”……”honey get off”……….”I’ll make dinner…;)” and you can take it from there haha:) Me and my sister have made a ton of your recipes and sometimes when we just feel like cooking somethin we just pull out the cookbook or the computer. Haha once she made your Guiltless Alfredo Sauce with fettuccine and it was soooooooo good! Our whole fam loved it! Now our little 3 yr old brother calls it “Megan’s Pasta” lol! Well I could go on forever on this blog but I probably should get goin on making dinner! Probably Creamy Chicken Taquitos tonight! =)

  41. Wow you two are great! I loved this recipe and it was so easy to make! My hubby and kids loved it! Definitely a keeper!

  42. Kylie I totally agree! I made these and they were delish!!! Ooooh coconut whipped cream would be divine! Nice idea emily! Wait….i just have to ask Kylie as in Kylie Sumter from Oregon?

  43. Sorry, that made sense in my head! I love every one of your recipes! And the one’s that I mess up on and don’t taste so great are all because of me and the fact that i really can’t cook haha! I’ve remade a lot of them and they are so good!! =)

  44. These were delicious – just like I remember from my childhood! In my family we spinkle them with sugar, lemon juice and then roll them up!

  45. We were married a couple of weeks ago and we were given your cookbook as a wedding gift. I started thumbing through it, in hopes of find something simple to make and stumbled upon this recipe. We’ve had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Thankfully we had the ingredients for it as we are still getting settled in. They were great! Love your work, please keep it coming! Next up…dinner rolls and honey butter.

  46. Made these this morning for my parents and they were a big hit! I used 1 cup 1% milk and 1/3 cup whole milk, plus about 2 tablespoons sugar. Turned out great! THanks for the awesome recipe!

  47. This last summer I had a thing with lemonade everything. I kept home-made lemonade, and sweetened strawberries in the fridge for strawberry lemonade ALL summer. It was fantastic. That being said, I made strawberry lemonade crepes… low fat cream cheese, sweetened strawberry juices, lemon zest, and sugar for the filling. Topped with fresh strawberries. Sooooooooo good.

  48. My son taught me a wonderful filling that he learned in Hungary when he was serving a mission there.
    Squeeze fresh lemon juice (we just have a bunch of fresh, cut in half lemons sitting on a plate for people to squeeze) and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. The amounts of the lemon and sugar are to each individual’s taste.
    It sounds weird but tastes amazing!

  49. Just got home to Wyoming from the Pinners Expo and made the biggest and best crepes I’ve ever made! Thanks ladies for the confidence to attempt it and it was so cool getting to meet you both!

  50. One of my favorite childhood memories were these slathered with butter and sprinkled with granulated sugar and rolled up like a burrito. It sounds weird, but it’s delicious…especially to a kid.

  51. Here’s a topping my son learned when he was two years in Hungary and learned to make crepes. I think it’s one of my favorite toppings now.
    Take a fresh lemon, cut in half and squeeze enough juice on to make the crepe wet. Then sprinkle a good layer of granulated sugar and roll up. Yum!

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