"Quand la Chandeleur est claire, l'hiver est par derriere; Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte!"
(If February 2 is clear, no more winter to fear; if the Chandeleur is overcast, forty days winter to last).
This past week I have repeatedly come across something called La Chandeleur. When a promotional offer from Carrefour on-line arrived in my mailbox I decided to google it!
La Chandeleur – which occurs on February 2nd, is also known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Other traditional names include Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord.
Traditionally, Candlemas had been the last feast day in the Christian year that was dated by reference to Christmas. Subsequent moveable feasts are calculated with reference to Easter. Candlemas occurs 40 days after Christmas.
Traditionally the Western term "Candlemas" (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest blessed beeswax candles at midnight for use throughout the year as a symbol of purification.
Today, for young and old alike, Candlemas (Chandeleur) is celebrated as crêpes day and generations have kept alive a collection of traditions and customs around the making of crêpes. For instance, crêpes must be eaten only after eight in the evening. If the cook can flip a crêpe while holding a coin in the other hand, the family is assured of prosperity throughout the coming year. Another custom (although less followed) suggests keeping the first cooked crêpe in a wardrobe in order to assure the abundance of the coming harvests.
Therefore tomorrow, I'll be taking my children off the the Mairie (town hall) where pancakes are being served for free. I just hope we will not freeze to death. The weather forecast for tomorrow is -12°C in Paris!!!!
Following is the crêpe recipe à la française:
Ingredients: (makes 12 crepes)
125 g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
300 ml milk or a mixture of milk and water (50/50)
1.) Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs and a little milk. Gradually mix in the flour from the sides, pouring more of the remaining liquid as you go and keeping a smooth batter. Continue until all the liquid is added and the flour is combined. You can use an electric whisk if you prefer, but make sure you incorporate the liquid in gradually otherwise you will have lumps through the batter.
2.) Cover and let it rest for at least 30-60 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
3.) When ready to make the crepes, beat the batter lightly.
4.) Heat the crepe pan to very hot with a small amount of vegetable oil. Wipe with kitchen towel and pour the excess oil away so you don’t end up with a greasy first crepe.
5.) Pour a small amount of the batter in and work quickly, tilting the pan to cover the base with a thin layer of the batter. When it bubbles a little and comes away from the sides of the pan it is ready to turn ... either toss if you are feeling confident or turn with a spatula.
6.) Cook the other side then serve with the topping of your choice.
7.) Some people cook the whole stack then re-heat quickly before serving, others cook a big stack and keep them warm in the oven with a tea towel whilst cooking them all ... or serve people one at a time as you make them and make a social event out of it.