Using fluid dynamics to perfect crêpe cooking techniques

crêpe
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A pair of fluid dynamics physicists, one with Ecole Polytechnique, the other the University of Canterbury, have used their respective backgrounds to develop the optimal way to fry a crêpe. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Fluids, Edouard Boujo and Mathieu Sellier describe their approach to finding the best way to cook a crêpe.

The study began when Sellier became frustrated with his efforts to make a very flat crêpe—most people who eat crêpes would no doubt agree that flat is the optimal shape. Lumpy or bumpy crêpes tend to cook unevenly, resulting in some parts cooking either too much or too little. Sellier recalls his wife pointing out that as a physicist specializing in , he should be able to figure out how to best pour and cook a simple crêpe. Intrigued, he paired with Boujo to do just that.

To come up with the best technique for getting crêpe batter to lay down in the pan, the two created a simulation that showed both the pan and the batter in action. To come up with an optimal approach, the researchers applied adjoint optimization—a math-based approach that takes into account the motion of fluids in a moving container. After tweaking, the simulation showed the researchers the best way to cook a crêpe.

The simulation suggested the best technique was pouring the right amount of batter onto a hot frying pan and then tilting the pan quite steeply, forcing the batter to run downhill all the way to edge of the pan. Next, the pan should be rotated in a way that forces the batter to spread to other parts of the pan—until it is completely covered. The angle of the pan should be gradually reduced during the final step until the pan lies flat on the stove.

The researchers report that their results showed an 83 percent improvement in crêpe uniformity and a seal of approval from their delighted daughters. They note that their could also be used for other liquid applications, such as making chocolate or applying coatings to smartphone screens.

Using physics to find the best way to fry a crêpe
Contours of film thickness h(x, t) for the optimal harmonic kinematics minimizing U(tf ), obtained with the Monte-Carlo method. Credit: arXiv:1901.06028 [physics.flu-dyn]

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More information: E. Boujo et al. Pancake making and surface coating: Optimal control of a gravity-driven liquid film, Physical Review Fluids (2019). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevFluids.4.064802 , https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.06028

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Jun 20, 2019
Science.

Jun 20, 2019
That's like a complete misunderstanding of a good crepe. If it's completely even, it doesn't have those frilly bits around the edges, or the crispy bubbles and browned spots in the middle that make it fun.


Jun 20, 2019
People have been using that technique for as long as crepes and other fluid-batter 'flat-pastry' cooking in pans has been done. The maths/fluid-dynamics simulation algorithms are based on known adjoint maximisation techniques that have long been worked out by trial-and-error, and since translated into mathematical techniques for modelling/predicting behaviour of the fluid(s). It's no big deal per se; except maybe the specific maths-simulation construct developed by the above researchers could be a better one than previous ones already used. But obviously, even they, had to 'tweak' their simulation 'construct' to optimise the results. Just as people have been doing 'trial-and-error' tweaking of real in-kitchen physical food-preparation/cooking techniques for millennia!

Still, I hope this newly developed simulation algorithm/construct finds practical use in other fluid-behaviour problems not yet satisfactorily solved in real life yet. Good luck to them. :)

ps @Eikka. Good point. :)

Jun 21, 2019
MY idea is better - perhaps even best. But it involves owning a hotplate that can be spun around continuously as the batter is slowly poured into the hot pan's centre. The continuous spinning will spread the batter evenly up to the edge of the pan by centrifugal force. This means that the pan can't have a handle, or at least one that is removable. Also, the batter mix should be quite a bit thin for even flow from the centre of the hot pan.
Where to buy such a spinnable hotplate which may not have been invented yet?
Aye, there's the rub.
Somewhere, there is an inventor who is searching for a good idea.

Jun 21, 2019
For the perfect crêpe delicacies

SEU
MY idea is better perhaps even best it involves owning a hotplate that can be spun around continuously as the batter is slowly poured into the hot pan's centre The continuous spinning will spread the batter evenly up to the edge of the pan by centrifugal force This means that the pan can't have a handle or at least one that is removable Also, the batter mix should be quite a bit thin for even flow from the centre of the hot pan.
Where to buy such a spinnable hotplate which may not have been invented yet?
Aye there's the rub
Somewhere there is an inventor who is searching for a good idea

Tis simplicity it's self
Sellier
the pan should be rotated in a way that forces the batter to spread to other parts of the pan

For to make a plate that rotates in an electric frying pan
Where this electric rotating plate spins as this crêpe batter is pored
Gently rocking this pan for the perfect crêpe delicacies
Crêpe delicacies with honey

Jun 21, 2019
Thanks for the better mouse trap, SEU

SEU
Somewhere, there is an inventor who is searching for a good idea

Crêpe spinning delicacies are all the rage!

Jun 21, 2019
Thanks for the better mouse trap, SEU

SEU
Somewhere, there is an inventor who is searching for a good idea

Crêpe spinning delicacies are all the rage!


granville, it has to be an ELECTRIC HOT PLATE that is able to spin around, possibly on a spindle with the electrical elements just above the metallic spindle. The frying pan itself that sits on the hot plate will also spin, but is separate from the hot plate.
It is almost the same principle as an electric coffee maker except for the spinning/rotation.

Jun 21, 2019
Crêpe spinning delicacies

SEU
granville it has to be an ELECTRIC HOT PLATE that is able to spin around possibly on a spindle

The spinning electric hot plate can be heated on an induction ring so as there are no electrical connections

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