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Baked Italian Crespelle

Crespelle al forno con prosciutto e formaggio – baked pancakes with ham and cheese – make a tasty light supper or lunch and are delicious served with a green side salad.

Mardis Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday in French, marks the end of Carnival season and is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of the 40 days of Lent. Mardis Gras is recognised throughout the world but each nation has their own title for this day. In the U.K. it is known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, German speaking countries name it Fastnacht, in Sweden- Fettisdagen and in Italy- Martedí Grasso . It gets it’s name from the fact that all the good food that was given up for Lent had to be used up and so eggs, butter and flour was used to make pancakes or cakes and on Ash Wednesday the fasting would begin.

Ingredients for the batter :

200 g plain ’00’ flour
3 eggs
350 ml. milk
30 g melted butter
A pinch of salt

For the filling :

500 ml. bechamel sauce
300 g  ham
200 g  grated provola  cheese
100 g grated Parmesan
Pepper to taste

crespelle al forno con prosciutto e formaggio

Prepare the batter for the crespelle. Place the flour and salt in a bowl, stir and form a “well”. Break the eggs in the center of the well, add the melted butter and, using a whisk, mix gradually with the flour. When eggs and butter are almost completely absorbed by the flour, gradually add all the milk in the recipe, continuously whisking.

Whisk the liquids slowly so that there are no lumps. The batter needs to be slightly thick and very smooth. Leave to rest for approx. half an hour before making the crespelle.

After resting, place a non-stick frying pan on the heat and add a pat of butter or a drizzle of oil to the hot pan. Pour a ladle-full of batter into the centre of the pan and rotate to spread the batter evenly.

After a minute of cooking, turn the crespelle over using a spatula and cook it for another minute. As you cook the crepes, place them on top of each other to keep them warm, “moist” and flexible.

Arrange the crespelle on a wooden board and fill them with a spoonful of béchamel, the provola cheese, a slice of cooked ham, a sprinkling of grated parmesan and a pinch of pepper.

Roll up the crespelle, taking care to also fold inwards the “ends” of the crespelle.

Using a baking dish, spread a layer of the bechamel sauce over the base and lay the crespelle over this, making sure that the open sides are facing downwards. Cover the crespelle with the remaining sauce  and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Put the dish in a preheated oven at 200 (180 fan) degrees for 30 minutes. Switch on the grill for the last 5 -10 minutes at the end of cooking to crispen up the top.

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