Crumpets – golden and fresh from the griddle, a simple batter cooked until light and tender. In early times, they were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era, which were made with yeast. The crumpet-makers of the English Midlands and London developed the characteristic holes by adding extra baking powder to the yeast dough. The term itself may refer to a crumpled or curled-up cake, or have Celtic origins relating to the Breton krampoez meaning a “thin, flat cake” and the Welsh crempog or crempot, a type of pancake. They have a characteristic flat top with many small pores and a chewy and spongy texture. They may be cooked until ready to eat warm from the pan, but are frequently left slightly undercooked so that they may be cooled and stored before being eaten freshly toasted.
375 g strong white flour
½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
about 300 ml tepid water
about 250 ml tepid milk
sunflower oil for greasing
* four crumpet rings or 4 x 7 cm pastry cutters
Put the flour and caster sugar into a large bowl and stir in the salt and yeast. Make a well in the middle, pour in the water and milk, and beat to form a smooth, thick batter.
Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until the surface is bubbling.
Beat the batter mixture for two minutes, then pour into a jug.
Lightly oil the crumpet rings or pastry cutters and oil a griddle or frying pan. Place the ring or cutters on the griddle and then leave for 1 – 2 minutes to heat through.
Pour 2 cm of batter into each ring and cook for 5 – 7 minutes until the surface is dry and full of holes, and the crumpets are shrinking away from the sides of the rings.
Lift off the rings, turn the crumpets over, and cook for 1 minute until pale golden. Transfer the crumpets to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Repeat with the remaining batter, lightly greasing the griddle and rings between each batch. Serve warm spread with butter.