The first is always a dud, a rumple in the corner of the frying pan. The second isn’t much better, ripped and more irritating than the first – how can I have forgotten how to do this?’ By the third, I am concentrating on the tilt and swirl, the jolting shake of the pan. “Up, u-u-p,” shouts my eight-year-old, so I send it up and the circle spins like a fat kite, then flumps back down into the pan. Not great, but not bad for a once-a-year pancake maker.
Smells open wormholes back in time, and tastes are like mini evocations: food is always dragging me somewhere. Pancakes take me back to the age my son is now, and our old kitchen, with its red tiles and sliding cupboards, and the windows above the sink that were always steamed up. I would stand as close as possible to the pan, watching the batter spread and the pale edges bubble, leaving the “up, u-u-p” to my younger brother and sister.
I was no less excited, though, being given licence to throw food. It was Mum, also a once-a-year pancake maker, who taught us that the first is always a dud, but you eat it anyway. The second licence was autonomy and mess: squirts of lemon juice and a gritting of caster sugar, the trail of golden syrup down the side of the tin and across the table. The third: permission to eat with your hands until you felt sick – things had never looked better.
Custom shaping so much, it is this syrupy memory that had, for the first 35 years of my life, confined pancakes to a once-a-year ritual, like putting up Christmas decorations. Added to this was my stubborn belief that I didn’t like savoury pancakes, and that the pleasure of them is 65% in the making (and in the mess) and 35% in the eating. Every time I saw one on a menu or food stall, as limiting as it might sound, I thought to order it would be to experience just a third of the pleasure.
These beliefs were flipped in Abruzzo, east of Rome, in the dining room of the most beautiful hotel I have never stayed at. Yet even in that broody cave, with its exposed beams and starched, white cloths, I still at first thought “35%” when I was handed two sorts of scripelle abruzzesi: the first batch rolled around ricotta and baked; the second served mbusse in clear chicken broth. The percentage gauge skipped up as I ate.
It happened again in Campania, this time with crespelle ripiene: frilly-edged rounds rolled around in ricotta and mozzarella, the melted substance of which was welcome – after all, pancakes are by their very nature a bit flaccid. While fridge magnets and wine are the best souvenirs, recipes are a close third, and I brought all of them home.
Keep in mind that the law of crespelle is the same as the law of pancakes: the first one is always a dud and the last a dilemma. Do you pour all the remaining batter into the pan and make a fat one? Or do you make one and-a-half? Either way, “up, u-u-p”.
The tomato is not so much a sauce as a seasoning liquid to prevent the crespelle drying as they cook.
Prep 5 min
Rest 30 min
Cook 30 min
2 tbsp grated parmesan, plus 50g to top
1 tbsp finely minced parsley
Salt and pepper
100g mozzarella, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste or 3 tbsp passata
In a large bowl, beat the eggs into the milk with a fork. Sieve the flour into the bowl, add two tablespoons of parmesan, parsley and salt and pepper, and whisk into a batter. Leave to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Rub a large, nonstick frying pan with oil and put on a medium heat. Add a small ladleful of batter and tilt the pan so the mixture spreads. Cook on one side for 30 seconds, flip and cook for 20 seconds on the other, then slide on to a warm plate. Continue until all the batter is used. You should have eight to 10 crespelle.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta and mozzarella, and season. Working with one crespella at a time, put a spoonful of the cheese mixture an inch away from one of the edges, spreading it out as best you can. Roll the crespella into a log, then repeat with the rest.
Arrange the rolls in a well-buttered dish. Dilute the tomato with 60ml water and zig-zag over the rolls. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and bake at 180C (160C)/gas 4 for 20 minutes.
Source: Thanks https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/feb/24/rachel-roddys-recipe-for-cheesy-crespelle