Manciano-style crêpes

Manciano-style crêpes

Ciaffagnoni mancianesi

By
From
Acquacotta
Makes
20 –25 crêpes
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Humble, light and bubbly, and – most importantly – paper thin, these crêpes are made out of the bare essentials (eggs, flour and water) and cooked in a cast-iron frying pan greased with lardo. The locals from Manciano like to tell the story that their ciaffagnoni (pronounced ‘chaf-an-nyoni’) were brought to France by a Maremman cook in the entourage of Florentine noblewoman Catherine de’ Medici when she married Henry II. For their crêpes, the French used richer milk instead of the water, and they cooked them in butter. It’s the same story that the Florentines like to tell about their crespelle.

Regardless of their history, the ciaffagnoni are delicious – and worth mastering. Creating these crêpes takes a bit of practice, partly due to the high water ratio of the batter and partly because they’re made so paper-thin. (They say that you should be able to make 10 crêpes with just one egg.) For more on making the perfect Manciano-style crêpe.

This is the most traditional ratio of eggs to flour and water, and is an easy-to-remember recipe. A dash of olive oil in the mixture (which isn’t traditional) can help make handling these delicate crêpes a little easier. The right pan makes every bit of difference. If you have a crêpe pan handy, that’s perfect. Otherwise, use a well-seasoned cast-iron or a non-stick frying pan – if the latter, you don’t need to grease the pan and you might find you don’t even need to sacrifice any crêpes at the beginning.

You can eat these any way you prefer, but some favourite toppings are the simplest – a sprinkling of sugar or a blob of jam for a sweet snack, or a sprinkling of grated pecorino cheese for a savoury one. Top your warm crêpe with these as soon as you can. Another delicious topping is fresh ricotta, sweetened with some sugar and cinnamon or a drizzle of honey.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 eggs
150g plain flour
300ml water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan

Method

  1. Combine the eggs and flour, beat with a fork until creamy, then add the water and oil. Continue to beat with a fork or use a whisk to combine until smooth. Let the batter rest in the fridge overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, place a small 15 cm frying pan (greased lightly with olive oil if needed) over high heat until very hot. Give the batter a quick stir (the flour tends to settle to the bottom), then pour a small amount of batter into the hot pan (1½ tablespoons is enough for this size pan) and quickly swirl to just cover the bottom of the pan. It should immediately bubble and set on the bottom. When the top looks dry (this takes about 20–30 seconds), flip over and cook the other side for a further 10–15 seconds. Don’t overcook them as they will become brittle and break when folded.
  3. Place the crêpe on a plate, add your choice of topping while warm, then fold into quarters (fold in half, then halve again). Continue making crêpes until you’ve used all the batter.

Variations

  • In other parts of Maremma, where similar crêpes are made, they’re called migliacci or fregnacce. Maremma-born food writer Edda Servi Machlin writes of migliaccini con tonno, where small crêpes are filled with a sauce made of tinned tuna, anchovies in oil and parsley, then folded in half and piled onto a baking tray to be warmed brief ly in the oven. She recalls that they were a favourite appetiser for Hannukah in her native Pitigliano, and were usually served at lunch with stewed cannellini beans.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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