Buckwheat crepes (galettes bretonnes) with gluten-free, dairy-free bechamel sauce

Crepe with steak and broccoliIt’s pancake day here in the UK, which means my kids got a pancake lunch, a pancake supper, and pancake dessert. If that sounds like a lot of work, it really wasn’t. Not only was I too lazy to make a pancake breakfast, the truth is, I only actually made pancakes once. To be more accurate, I made galettes bretonnes once and we ate them three different ways using three very easy variations.

Galettes bretonnes, or buckwheat crepes, are traditionally made with buckwheat flour only, making them naturally gluten-free. If you want to have them in a restaurant, however, be careful, since some cooks mix the buckwheat flour with wheat flour. Perhaps they fear that the buckwheat will be strong-tasting – and in some recipes it can be – but honestly, here it isn’t. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like a wheat flour crepe, but it has a mild and pleasant taste and texture. Honestly, it’s nothing too challenging.

Buckwheat crepes are super easy to make because unlike so much gluten-free stuff, they don’t call for multiple flours, xanthan gum, or anything else fancy. You can make them using just one flour. Believe it! Nor do you have to worry about them handling poorly, falling apart, or tasting gritty. You make them just like a “regular” crepe.

As for what to fill them with, you can fill them with pretty much anything you like. For lunch, we had them with ham, egg and optional cheese. (I’m on a dairy-free kick at the moment so I skipped the cheese.) For supper we had them with steak, asparagus*, tenderstem broccoli*, bechamel sauce, and optional cheese. For dessert, we had them with almond butter, fruit, and maple syrup. All were delicious, though I will confess that my kids liked the dessert crepes the best and the broccoli-containing ones the least.

(*Note: Broccoli and asparagus are high-FODMAP but they are healthy foods and I find I can tolerate a small amount, such as the few stalks I used per crepe in this recipe. If you can’t eat broccoli and/or asparagus, you could substitute a different vegetable, perhaps wilted spinach or green beans.)

Three rolled crepesBuckwheat crepes (Galettes bretonnes)

Makes 10-11 crepes

  • 250 g buckwheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt (if you will be making savoury crepes only you may want to use more than a pinch)
  • 40 g melted dairy-free vegetable shortening (I used Trex) or 45 g butter, melted
  • 500 ml cold water (doesn’t have to be ice-cold; tap will do)
  • Vegetable oil spray
  1. Sift the buckwheat flour in a large bowl, as I’ve found it has a bit of a tendency to go clumpy if it’s not fresh from the shop.
  2. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs with the salt, melted vegetable shortening, and water.
  3. Add the liquid ingredients to the buckwheat flour and mix well using a whisk. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high heat and spray with vegetable oil spray.
  5. Pour a ladle full of crepe batter and swirl it around the pan to make a round and even crepe.
  6. Once the first side is golden, flip it over and cook until second side too is golden. Repeat until all the crepe batter is used up.

One side of crepeGluten-free, dairy-free bechamel sauce

This is a very approximate recipe, since I didn’t actually measure anything as I made it. I never do, yet it always turns out right in the end, though I admit it sometimes takes a little tinkering. What’s important is that it has the right texture (thick but not clumpy) and a pleasant taste. Start with the lower end of the quantities given below. If the sauce is too thick, add more almond milk. If it’s too thin, add more sorghum flour until you get it just right.

  • Slug of olive oil (perhaps 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Generously heaped tablespoon of sorghum flour*
  • 1-2 cups almond milk**
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste, preferably fresh-ground
  • Garlic-infused olive oil to taste
  1. Pour a slug of olive oil into a small saucepan on medium-low heat.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the sorghum flour into the almond milk. Pour the mixture in with the olive oil and whisk well.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust quantities of almond milk and/or sorghum flour as needed.
  4. Just before turning off the heat, add a drizzle of garlic-infused olive oil and whisk again until well incorporated. Not cooking for too much longer at this stage preserves the flavour of the garlic.

*Note 1: I find sorghum flour to be the best for thickening because for whatever reason, it really resists forming lumps. However, if you don’t have it – and actually, I didn’t have any today – you can substitute another gluten-free grain-based flour (I imagine flours made from things like almonds or beans wouldn’t work). Today I used rice flour (Dove’s Farm mix of white and brown rice flour) and while it came out all right, I had to whisk more than usual to get my sauce lump-free and it still wasn’t quite as silky smooth as when I use sorghum flour.

**Note 2: I find unsweetened almond milk (I use Alpro because it doesn’t contain carageenan, which can apparently irritate the gut) to have the mildest, most pleasant taste for this sauce, but the kind of coconut milk formulated to mimic cow’s milk (I like Koko) also works very well. Don’t try to use the canned kind you’d use for a curry.

Gluten-free dairy-free bechamel sauceDinner crepes

For one crepe:

  • Thinly sliced beef, quickly stir-fried (or leftover steak, thinly sliced)
  • 1 slice of cheese (optional) – my family used Havarti but other types would work too
  • 3-4 stalks tenderstem broccoli
  • Bechamel sauce (see above)
  1. If using cheese, put a slice on a hot crepe.
  2. Add some beef strips and tenderstem broccoli
  3. Top with a moderate quantity of bechamel sauce
  4. Roll or fold up the crepe and add more bechamel sauce on top. (It makes for easier eating if there’s not too much bechamel sauce inside the crepe – you can use as much on top as you like, though. I didn’t take a picture with the bechamel sauce on top because I wanted to get the texture of the crepes to come through clearly in the pictures.)

Crepe with broccoli, asparagus, steak, and bechamel sauceCrepe with steak, broccoli, asparagus, bechamel sauceBrunch crepes

For one crepe:

  • 1 slice of ham
  • 1 egg over easy
  • 1 large slice of cheese, optional (Emmenthal or gruyere would be most traditional but whatever you like best would probably work. If you don’t want a slice, sprinkling grated cheese on top would work as well.)
  • Pepper to taste (you won’t need salt; the ham is salty enough)
  1. Lightly fry the ham and set on crepe.
  2. Add the slice of cheese if using.
  3. Set the hot egg on top and add pepper to taste. (If using grated cheese, sprinkle the cheese on the hot egg.)
  4. Roll up crepe or just fold in the sides. Serve immediately.

Dessert crepes

  • Almond butter
  • Fruit of choice, chopped if necessary (we used raspberries and grapes)
  • Maple syrup
  1. Spread enough almond butter on the crepe to coat most of one side thinly.
  2. Top with a generous amount of fruit.
  3. Roll or fold up and top with maple syrup.

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