I love hot, buttered Crumpets! There- I’ve admitted to my latest addiction. I don’t really know why I haven’t been making them all along. They are something I never really thought about. We always had English Muffins around our house – as a kid I remember a particularly great homemade sourdough batch my mom made for a camping trip -we ate them toasted on a morning fire. But English Muffins are not really traditionally English or really muffins as far as I can find out. They are a form of skillet cooked bread that (from what I’ve read about them) were created by an English baker here in the United States. You do fork split them and toast them but they are bread first, last and always as far as I’m concerned.
A Crumpet is a different beastie all together. It is more batter like- originating from a pancake and although you cook them in rings on a skillet in the same manner as an English Muffin their texture and purpose is entirely different. A Crumpet is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. It is filled with holes designed (as far as I am concerned) as funnels to direct butter into the soft interior. Yes-They are basically crisp delicious butter “sponges.” Then you put honey or jam (of course I like cherry) on top and you have a taste and texture sensation that is worthy of all the Hot Buttered Crumpet legends of Merry Olde England. Once you make them they can be held and then toasted for tea (or whenever) over the next day or so. I suspect they keep better in the fridge but it can make them a bit rubbery. I keep mine in an airtight container on the counter for as long as they last -I can’t really tell how long that is because we gobble them up for breakfast lunch and dinner- besides tea so I don’t have a reliable test control group. Last night we had them as sort of a “fusion cuisine”- but I’ll tell you of that later.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes about two dozen 3-1/2 inch Crumpets
- 3-2/3 cups of all purpose flour (or omit gluten and use 2 cups AP flour and 1-2/3 cups of Bread flour)
- 2 teaspoons of Vital Wheat Gluten
- 1 package or 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
- large pinch of sugar
- 2-1/4 cups of warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup of slightly warm milk
Equipment needed: a large cast iron skillet or griddle and metal rings- you can make your own by cutting the tops and bottoms off of a tuna or water chestnut can – just make sure you wash them very well and make sure you don’t have any sharp edges to cut yourself on. Four work fairly well in a large skillet. Tongs. Cooling rack.
In a the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour and wheat gluten and cream of tartar well. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water with a pinch of sugar until it is foamy. Add the yeast and the rest of the warm water to the bowl and beat with the paddle attachment for a minute. Remove the paddle and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and put in a warm place for about an hour -until the batter rises and then falls back. Add the salt and beat for another minute with the paddle attachment. Let rest for about a 1/2 hour. Dissolve the baking soda in the warm milk and gently stir into the batter. It will bubble a bit.
Heat your skillet or griddle over low to medium heat for a few minutes. You should be able to hold your hand comfortably over the pan for about 7 seconds when it is ready. Butter the rings well and make sure they are able to sit flat in the pan – if not reduce the number of rings you are using at once. Put a little butter in the bottom of each ring and move it back and forth with tongs to coat the skillet or griddle. Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter into each ring. Be patient cooking- these just take a bit of time. Holes should begin to form right away – if not you may need to thin the batter a tiny bit. If the batter is too runny you may need to add a little flour. The batter is kind of like a slightly stiffer waffle batter. Let them cook until they pull away from the rings. Remove the rings as soon as the Crumpets pull away from the side- use tongs here. That way your rings will cool enough for you to be able to butter them again by the time you’re ready for your next batch. continue to let the Crumpet cook all the way through-you should be able to touch the top and see that it is set up before you flip them over and cook the tops for a couple of minutes. The bottoms should be darker than the tops but not too dark brown since you will be toasting these again.
Remove them to a cooling rack and let cool. Okay you could eat a hot one but I think they’re better toasted. When ready to eat pop in a toaster and toast until crisp. cover with butter, jam, honey or whatever you wish.