Most food related subjects for this blog stem from questions people ask me and, while sitting in a tea room with a couple of colleagues, one of them asked “Why do crumpets have so many holes?”
Let’s start at the beginning. Crumpets (or English muffins as are sometimes called in this country) are, essentially, pancakes. The main differences is the addition of yeast to the batter that, after left to rest, is cooked on a griddle, exactly like pancakes.
English cuisine, ever so maligned, has managed to produce some delightful items and hot off the griddle crumpets is one of them. They have been known in England for centuries, although their origin is somewhat murky. Crumpet sellers could be found all over England starting in the 17th century, selling their cakes on street corners.
Most of us are familiar with the supermarket version, the one that gets popped in the toaster, but making your own is easy. If not eaten immediately, smothered in butter, they can be stored for a few days and, yes, popped in the toaster. As to the holes, some English crumpet maker must have discovered, at some point, that by adding extra baking soda to the batter would create the charming holes that mop up the melting butter and gobble up the jam.
RECIPE – Yield: 8/10 crumpets
16 oz AP Flour, sifted
1/2 ts Salt
1 Packet of dry yeast
1 ts Sugar
1 C Milk, warm
1 C Water, warm
- Combine flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, letting it stand for a few minutes to make sure it reacts (bubbles will form on the surface).
- Add the yeast mixture to the flour and, slowly pouring the warm water, mix with a spatula to combine until you get a fairly thick batter. Cover it with a tea towel and place the bowl in a warm spot. Let rise for about 1 hour.
- Heat a griddle or a non stick pan on medium heat. Grease it lightly with vegetable oil.
- If using crumpet rings or cookie cutters, place them on the griddle and let them warm up a minute or two (make sure to grease them first).
- Ladle the batter in the rings (or free form as if you were making pancakes) about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cook on low heat until small holes appear on the surface (about 4 or 5 minutes). Remove the rings and flip the crumpets – cook the other side.
- Repeat with the remaining batter. Toast the crumpets before serving.