Why do I keep buckwheat flour knocking about the pantry? It started with a quest for the perfect blini and ended with a budding love for galettes Bretonnes, or black blintzes as I'm wont to call them. A regional specialty of Brittany, France, these thin-but-hearty savory crêpes are traditionally topped with melty Gruyère cheese, ham, and finally a sunny-side-up egg. Then, the edges are folded in, like a four-sided hamantash (or, um, a galette), so that they catch on the not-quite-set egg white.
Adapting Traditional Galettes Bretonnes
It's a good thing I hadn't realized that Galettes Bretonnes are notorious for stymieing home cooks when I set out to find a use for my leftover buckwheat flour. Traditionally made with all buckwheat flour, which is gluten free, the darn things are prone to all manner of inflexibility. However, most recipes include some amount of wheat flour for its gluteny stretch. Apparently this is highly inauthentic, but also recommended by pretty much everyone. I use a 1:1 ratio of buckwheat to wheat flour, and these behave nicely in my frying pan.
Though there's no shortage of kosher turkey and beef bacon on the market now, the crêpe batter calls for milk, plus there's the melty cheese angle to consider. Since smoked salmon often plays designated hitter in the brunch game, like in eggs benedict, I decided to switch it in for the ham. I don't know how these compare to the real deal, but we really like them, enough to make them semi-regular on our brunch (or breakfast-for-dinner) rotation. That includes the cat.
On to the cheese: I can sometimes find kosher-certified Gruyère at my local kosher market (it's Makabi brand, imported from France), but I often enough use whatever shredded cheese I have on hand. Hey, I learned in grad school that authenticity is a temporally contingent cultural construct (among other non-lucrative but intellectually edifying ideas).
Making Breton galettes
If you're familiar with making blintzes or French-style crêpes, the process here is similar. After mixing the buckwheat batter, which is supposed to be loose and runny, you swirl it around in a hot, medium-sized frying pan so that it spreads out in a thin, even layer. When the top is just set and dry to the touch, you sprinkle on the cheese and layer the smoked salmon on top. then slide a just-cooked sunny-side-up egg right on top (fried separately, in another frying pan). Finally, you turn up the sides so that they "catch" in the not-quite-set egg white. These also make a nice sandwich wraps for any of your favorite savory fillings.
Kosher Galettes Bretonnes with Smoked Salmon (dairy)
- Food processor (can also be whisked by hand)
- A medium-sized, non-stick frying pan
- 1 cup, scant buckwheat flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour - 100g
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ cups milk - 300ml
- 1 ⅓ cups water - 325ml
For the toppings:
- 8 eggs - or 1 per person
- 8 slices smoked salmon
- ½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated - or another kind of grated/shredded cheese
Prepare the batter for the crepes:
- Add the ingredients to the food processor work bowl and process until smooth and well blended, about 30 seconds. Pour into a large measuring cup or a bowl.
Prepare the toppings:
- Set out your toppings so they are in easy reach of your cooktop, as you'll be assembling the galettes in the pan. To keep the eggs warm and runny, you'll cooking them in a separate frying pan while the crepe is setting in the first frying pan. To help this come together, I recommend cracking the eggs into separate little prep bowls or ramekins. This way you can slide the egg onto the frying pan easily and have less timing pressure.
Cook the first crepe:
- Heat up a small amount of butter over medium-low heat in a medium-sized, non-stick frying pan - a light one that you can handle easily. Brush the butter evenly across the pan using a silicone pastry brush. Pour or ladle⅓ cup batter onto the center of the hot pan, then immediately pick up the pan to swirl the batter evenly. The batter should just begin to climb the curved sides of the pan, where the thin layer will cook almost instantly. Let cook, without flipping, while you fry the first egg.
Fry the first egg:
- Meanwhile, heat up a second, smaller frying pan. Grease it, if needed, and gently pour in an egg. Leave to cook while you shift back to the pan with the crepe in it, until the yolks is only beginning to set,
Assemble and fold the galette:
- When the top of the crepe has just begun to set, so that it looks dry, top it with a generous sprinkle of grated cheese. Place one slice of lox on top.
- Carefully slide the fried egg on top of the lox.
- Using a felxible flat spatula and working quickly, turn up the edges of the crepe. Hold each edge down with the spatula for a few seconds, then move to the next side. (I go clockwise.)
- Repeat for the remaining batter. If you have more batter than diners, you can flip and cook these on both sides and use them as wraps (although, they do not keep well).