Crumpets remind me of holidays in Cornwall and rainy English afternoons by the fire. Traditional and comforting, with simple and easy-to-come-by ingredients. When I first made crumpets, I was a little surprised to find that there are some fairly strong opinions on what type of flour to use to achieve the best texture, and it really comes down to personal preference. Some prefer using strong white flour, which provides a chewier texture and stronger structure for the famous crumpet honeycomb holes. Others favour plain flour, for a softer crumb. Many cooks suggest blending the two in order to reap some of the benefits of each. The strong white flour contributes to a decent honeycomb structure, and the addition of the plain prevents it from becoming too chewy. I’ve adopted this approach, but erred on the side of using a higher proportion of strong flour to plain, because I quite like my crumpet to have a good structure and a bit of bite.
EQUIPMENT – I use crumpet rings which are 8 1/2 cm in diameter.
Makes 12 crumpets.
Heat the milk and water with the sugar in a small saucepan until it is tepid / warm, but not boiling. Pour it into a jug and stir in the yeast. Cover tightly with a tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes. It should start to froth and form small bubbles.
Sift the flours and mix them with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and water mixture. Stir until it reaches a smooth batter.
Cover it with a tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for 1½ hours. The mixture should become light and frothy with lots of little bubbles. If the bubbles aren’t forming, leave if for another half hour until it reaches the desired consistency.
Mix your bicarbonate of soda with 60ml of warm water. Pour this into the batter to loosen it, and make sure it is evenly incorporated. Cover again, and leave to rest for a further 20 minutes in a warm place. Little holes will appear in the batter.
Grease a griddle pan and your crumpet rings with butter. Heat the griddle pan over a medium-low heat. When the pan is hot, fill each crumpet ring to half full. To make sure you cook the crumpets thoroughly without burning the bottom, a medium-low heat works best. If you make the crumpets too thick, they will not cook all the way through before the bottoms start to burn.
Use a skewer or the tip of a sharp knife to burst the bubbles and help them form – I find that if you don’t do this, you don’t get as many holes. Once the tops of the crumpet are no longer liquid and the batter has firmed up into open holes, flip them over and finish the tops off for a couple of minutes, until they have a light golden brown finish. Remove from the crumpet rings and leave to cool on a wire rack.
These are best eaten on the day of making, but are still good the following day if you toast or warm them first. Serve with butter, and spreads of your choice.