Every week I race the slow but inevitable decline of the bunch of bananas I buy on the weekend. Every week I get two perfect bananas followed by two almost perfectly riper bananas followed by the predictable decline into a culinary argument of “Is this too ripe to eat?”
Every week, some end up in the freezer to become cookies (see Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies) or to become smoothies. Convinced there is a lot more I could be doing with ripe bananas, this past weekend I decided to marshal my wits and tackle this cycle of decay.
With my recent success of gluten-free pumpkin pancakes in my rearview mirror, I had ‘pancakes’ on the brain and so when Sunday morning arrived, and further inspired by my pile of ripe bananas, I made the decision to move onto my next challenge: the gluten-free crêpe. I’ll admit that the notion of crêpes and bananas wasn’t a big stretch, but the challenge was to see if I could pull off a gluten-free version of the crêpe. And so a decadent and perfect breakfast meal was born as I moved my pile of chips to the centre of the table, and I was all-in. Let’s do this.
The crêpe isn’t really a difficult thing to make and because it is mostly a “flat-bread,” it also seemed perfectly suited to a sans gluten creation. My first experience with making real, European crêpes came almost 20 years to the day (god, does that make feel old now) when, living in China, and a Hungarian sinology student came over to my place to teach me. Her secret was using carbonated water in the process. Personally, I’ve always preferred milk in the pancakes but the notion of using ‘natural’ carbonation to bring a hint of fluffiness to the French pancake always stuck, so my cooking tip in this case is to use a pinch of baking powder instead (note: baking soda won’t work without an acid to activate it). In terms of gluten-free flours, I chose a few with strong flavour and a few with a bit more starch (for strength) which is also why I added in a smidgen of xantham gum. As you can see from the picture, the result was a substantial, airy, and whole pancake that you could flip, roll, and fill. What more could you ask for, really? Oh, they tasted great too.
The filling? Simple again. The inspiration was to work with the sugars in the ripe banana and caramelize them in butter and, then, as they start to break down ever so slightly and start to thicken the butter, build up a flavourful and thick butterscotch around them. I have to say, this banana filling was pure sin and pure enjoyment … god it was good!
The only ‘failure’ of the dish in my honest opinion was the presentation. I probably should have had whipped cream, crème anglaise, or even just icing sugar on the outside to provide some contrast. Truthfully, though, while this would have improved the look and feel, it would have been purely an aesthetic addition. This dish didn’t need anything else and certainly didn’t need more carbs, but if you want to go all in yourself, by all means, go all in. You can’t go wrong ….
Wishing you all a decadent and lovely weekend breakfast or brunch. Enjoy.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 crêpes
Crêpes with Caramelized Bananas (Gluten-Free)
Gluten-Free Crepe Batter:
- 1 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons light oil
- ¼ cup chick pea flour
- ¼ cup buckwheat
- ¼ cup rice flour
- 1 tablespoon potato flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch baking powder
- ¼ tsp xantham gum
- 3-4 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2″ (1cm) thick rounds
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- ¼cup butter
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon
- Prepare the crêpe batter by first sifting together all the flours and dry ingredients into medium bowl.
- In mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat until fluffy.
- Add the milk and vanilla and beat until frothy.
- Slowly sprinkle in the dry flour ingredients and ‘mix’ until incorporated.
- Mix until all flour is incorporated and the the mixture has enough shape to drizzle from a spatula but isn’t too thin to be ‘watery.’ Let batter stand while you make the bananas to allow flours to relax and mixture to absorb liquid.
- Make the caramelized bananas now by first slicing the bananas into 1/2-inch (1cm) slices. Heat butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When temperature is reached, add the bananas to butter and carefully mix around to cover all the slices with the butter.
- Fry the bananas stirring every few minutes until they start to caramelize. Bananas will also start to ‘cream’ at this point as they enter the butter. (This is a good thing.)
- Add the brown sugar now and gently mix it in.
- Add the cream and gently stir.
- Cook over medium heat until butterscotch starts to thicken around the bananas (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand.
- Return to your crêpe batter now. If it has thickened up too much again, add a tablespoon of milk until right consistency has been reached.
- Preheat oven to ‘warming’ temperature (e.g. 125-150ºF).
- Heat your crêpe pan (if you have one) or any non-stick pan with low edges that you can swirl. Temperature will be reached when a small splash or drop of water ‘dances’ or bounces off the pan when dropped. Add 1/2 teaspoon of light cooking oil (e.g. avocado oil or grape seed oil would work well) or so to the pan and spread it around to coat.
- Ladle in about 1/4-cup of batter into the pan and using your wrist twirl the pan to allow the batter to evenly spread around the pan. You have to do this quickly or the crêpes will cook too thick.
→ This is a learned technique that will come with practice, so give yourself time.
- You’ll know the crêpe is ready to turn when the edges start to dry out and even lift from the edge of the pan, but this will only take about 1-2 minutes. Using a thin spatula/flipper, work your way under the edge and flip. If you’re really good and you have an excellent well-oiled pan, you’ll be able to do this without tools.
- Cook on the other side not more than 30 seconds or so. You’re only ‘drying’ it out so that it doesn’t stick and is cooked through.
- Place the crêpe on a plate in the oven to keep warm while you repeat to cook the remaining crêpes.
- When done, place a crêpe on serving plate, brown-side down, and spoon warm banana-butterscotch sauce (make sure you’re even in your distribution) into the the centre. Carefully roll it up and repeat with remaining crêpes are filled. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, icing sugar, whipped cream, or nothing at all. Enjoy while still warm.