WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS ABOUT NO TIME TO DIE. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM, READ ON AT YOUR PERIL!
No Time To Die, the 25th James Bond film and Daniel Craig’s swansong shows James Bond doing something we haven’t seen him do since 1985’s A View To A Kill: cook some food, in this case French-style pancakes or crêpes. Well, we don’t actually see Bond cook the pancakes, but from an open packet of butter on the breakfast table and a brief exchange about the food between him and Madeleine Swann’s daughter, Mathilde, at Swann’s lakeside house in Norway (“pas mal” is Mathilde’s verdict on the pancakes), the implication is clear. That’s not the end of Bond culinary talents either: we also see him peel an apple.
Perhaps curiously, Bond cooks the pancakes for breakfast. While thick, American-style pancakes are a well-established breakfast food, wafer-thin, French-style crêpes are not. As the great French chef, Louis Diat, once wrote: “Breakfast is the only meal at which we French do not eat crêpes, even during Carnaval.” I also wonder whether the film’s writers and director missed a trick here by not having Bond cook his signature dish in the novels, scrambled eggs.
To make crêpes yourself, you can’t go far wrong with the basic batter recipe below, adapted from classic French recipes.
- 60g plain flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 140ml milk
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- Butter for cooking
- Lemon and icing sugar (optional)
Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and salt and mix until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour in some of the milk and mix well. Add the melted butter and some more milk and continue to mix. Pour in the rest of the milk and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Allow the batter to rest for about two hours in the refrigerator.
To cook the pancakes, melt a tiny piece of butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Use a brush to coat the cooking surface with the butter. Ladle enough batter into the pan to cover the cooking surface very thinly, swirling the pan around to ensure an even spread. Allow the bottom of the pancake to cook for 30 seconds or so. When the top of the pancake looks dry and bubbles have started to form, flip the pancake over with a spatula or palette knife (or toss if you wish). Allow the other side to cook for another 20-30 seconds. If necessary, lift the edge of the pancake with a knife to check that the side is cooked. Slide the pancake onto a serving plate and cover with foil to keep it warm.
Repeat the process until all the batter has been used up. There should be enough batter for four or five pancakes, depending on the size of your frying pan. As the pan continues to heat up, the cooking time reduces; the last couple of pancakes will cook very rapidly.
Flavour the pancakes in any way you wish, but I like to go with the tried and tested, sprinkling the pancakes with lemon juice and icing sugar.