What is the difference between crepes and Swedish pancakes?

  • We just made the Swedish recipe this morning, and it seems like crepes...

  • Looking at individual recipes, there is a great deal of overlap between Crêpes and Swedish pancakes. If, however, you compare hundreds of recipes, some clear differences emerge. There are also differences between the English interpretations of these recipes and those written in French or Swedish.

    Batter ingredient proportions

    In the chart above, each cohort consists of at least 100 distinct recipe ratios, except for Ruhlman's Crêpes ratio which is provided for comparison.

    A taste test of the Swedish recipe Pannkakor with French recipe Crêpes revealed the following differences:

    • Batter: The increased liquid content of the Swedish pancakes made the batter much thinner than the Crêpes batter. Swedish pancakes are made in a pan with a raised lip around the edge. This allows the thin batter to be sloshed around, evenly coating the pan surface without running over the edge.

    pancake pan

    Crêpes, on the other hand, are made on a Crêpe maker. The batter must be thick enough that it will not run over the edge. A T-shaped spreader is used to evenly coat the crêpe maker surface in a perfect disk shape.

    crepe maker

    • Frying: Crêpes fried up extremely easily, unsticking themselves from the skillet (I had neither a pancake pan, nor a crêpe maker available at the time) making it possible to toss the Crêpes instead of flipping with a spatula. Swedish pancakes, on the other hand, require a bit of fiddling with a spatula to flip them.

    Crêpes had a slight tendency to curl up at the sides after flipping so they cooked less evenly than the pancakes which stayed perfectly flat after flipping.

    Crêpe Flip side of a Crêpe (French recipe)

    Pannkaka Flip side of a Swedish pancake (Swedish recipe)

    I also tested Michael Ruhlman's Crêpes ratio. These curled up to a much greater extent than French recipe Crêpes after flipping and were, consequently, quite unevenly browned on one side.

    Ruhlman's Crêpe Flip side of a Ruhlman's Crêpe

    • Taste and consistency: Both French recipe Crêpes and Swedish recipe pancakes hit caramel and butterscotch notes. In short, they both tasted great. The Crêpe consistency was a little tough together with traditional Swedish accompaniments (Whipped cream and Strawberry jam) whereas the Swedish pancakes were light and fluffy; this worked perfectly with the filling. I tested again with lemon juice and sugar and this time the Crêpes won through, holding up well to the additional liquid while the Swedish pancakes became a bit soggy. Ruhlman's Crêpe recipe didn't perform nearly as well. The caramel flavour was much less pronounced, they had a dry mouth-feel and they were tougher than French recipe Crêpes.

    For anyone who wants to form their own opinion, here are the ratios and ingredients I used in the tests:

    Swedish Pancakes (based on 200 Swedish recipes with distinct ingredient proportions)

    Ingredient weight ratios: 1:3.5:1:0.16 (all purpose flour:milk:medium egg:butter)

    • 79g or 150ml all purpose flour
    • 278g or 278ml milk
    • 80g, 68ml or 2 medium egg(s) where each medium egg is 53g
    • 13g or 13ml butter
    • 1/4 tsp salt

    Crêpes (based on 119 French recipes with distinct ingredient proportions)

    Ingredient weight ratios: 1:1.97:0.75:0.17 (all purpose flour:milk:medium egg:butter)

    • 116g or 219ml all purpose flour
    • 228g or 228ml milk
    • 86g, 73ml or 2 medium egg(s) where each medium egg is 53g
    • 20g or 20ml unsalted butter
    • 1/4 tsp salt


    Joe's comment prompted me to chart the ingredient proportions as a Baker's Percentage.

    Baker's percentage

    the graph would be likely more distinctive (be more obvious about the variations) if you normalized to the amount of flour, rather than the total amount of batter made.

    @Joe thanks for the tip; I'll look into that.

    For what it's worth, my family taste tested Swedish and English recipe Pannkakor yesterday (pancake Thursday). Both recipes tasted great with the Swedish recipe having a very slim edge. The English recipe was just a touch too eggy for my taste. My wife couldn't tell the difference.

    Note that there is also a savory variation on french crepes made with buckwheat flour.

    this is one the most in-depth responses I've seen on stackexchange, you deserve a medal.

    The ones with buckwheat are called galettes, not crepes, at least where I lived in Brittany.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM