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Looking for the Perfect Crepe? Physics to the Rescue!

Looking for the Perfect Crepe? Physics to the Rescue! Grandmother making pancakes

One of my favorite things about cooking is how much it is all about science. Physics and chemistry play their parts for the most delicious foods. And it can help you make the perfect crepe, too!

Whenever I see something about science teaching you how to make better food, my attention is always piqued! Till now, I found out how to break a bunch of dry spaghetti in half from mathematicians and how to make the best fries from food scientists. It’s time for the perfect crepe to come into the spotlight thanks to some physicists who really wanted to find out the way to create a nice, even stack of great crepes. Cause it would be really nice to be able to avoid lumps at all costs!

Tips for a perfect crepe

One of the secrets to making a perfect crepe is all about the equipment you’re using. When you buy a professionally-made crepe, it will always turn out great because they use a blade to cook it. A blade is a flat heated surface that distributes the batter evenly so that the result will have the right consistency. Otherwise, the crepe will not be uniform and you can tell that by the ungodly amount of lumps in it.

But you probably don’t have a blade at home, do you? Most of us don’t. And we make our crepes the old-fashioned way, in a frying pan. But don’t worry! Physics has a solution for you, too. The secret to the perfect crepe is also an old classic: it’s all in the wrist. 

Looking for the Perfect Crepe? Physics to the Rescue!

Two scientists described their crepe research in a paper published in Physical Review Fluids. Co-author Mathieu Sellier of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand told his wife about his frustration in not being able to make good homemade crepes. “My wife said, ‘Being a fluid dynamicist, you should be able to fix this problem,'” he told New Scientist. Sellier collaborated with Edouard Boujo, a physicist at the Ecole Polytechnique in France.

“The key physical phenomena underpinning crepe making involves the interaction of the liquid layer with the substrate kinematics and the solidification of the liquid layer,” the authors wrote.

The idea is this: when you ladle in the crepe batter, it piles up in the center of the pan. When you rotate the pan, thanks to gravity, it starts to spread out, but it is also cooking at the same time it does that. So the spread is not uniform.

Nothing you do with a pan will spread out the crepe 100% perfectly, but you can make it better by adding a rocking motion to the pan along one axis. The motion is kind of a figure-eight motion and the results are better!

Or, maybe have someone who understands the process better than I do explain. “For optimal crepe-making, add the batter to the center of the pan. Then immediately tilt the pan to one side to spread the batter all the way to the edge. Keeping the pan inclined, rotate once to fill in the full circumference. Then continue the rotation at a slighter incline to fill in any holes until the pan is horizontal and the crepe is cooked through.” That explanation comes from Nicole Sharp at FYFD.

Happy making crepes now, we hope this helps!

I’m a pop culture nerd who thinks too much about fried bacon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and life, the Universe and everything. I love food and sometimes you can see that on my hips, but I don't care that much about that.
What I do care more about is trying to eat healthier, even though I admit that I like to indulge in my food fantasies. I’m addicted to puns, so forgive me for that when you read my articles. I now know too much about nutrition to be fun to hang out with. So long and thanks for all the fish-based omega-3 fatty acids.

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