Sunday, September 29, 2013

Crumpets – in Search of the Hole-y Grail

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Indiana Jones had it easy. To find his Holy Grail, he merely had to deal with rats, fire, gunmen, betrayal and avoid being chopped to bits by a ship’s propeller. Mr Jones would have paled in the face of my mission – to make the Holey Grail of the griddle cake world – the perfect crumpet.
So, what constitutes the perfect crumpet?
According to my true blood English crumpet connoisseur, it must be: “light and fluffy with lots of holes in it, but it has to have a certain chewy bite to it. It is best eaten toasted and dripping with butter, which needs to soak through the holes. The holes are very important.”
Being Irish, perhaps I don’t fully appreciate the finer nuances of this yeasty little devil which is little known in the Emerald Isle. Perhaps it is ignorance that allows me to laugh in the face of such a challenge. Bring it on, I say - oh, and don’t forget the butter!

For 12 – 14 crumpets, enough for 4 – 6 people, you will need...
... crumpet rings*
125g strong white flour
125g plain flour
1 x 7g sachet of quick action dried yeast
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
350mls water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or melted butter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter for greasing the crumpet rings

Method 
Place the strong flour, plain flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Heat the water to between 27°C – 35°C. (This is approximately when the water feels neither hot nor cold. Too hot, it will kill the yeast. Too cold, it will just take longer to activate.) Add the olive oil (or melted butter) and vanilla extract to the warm water.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and slowly add the water, incorporating the flour from around the edges, mixing to a thick smooth batter. Cover and leave in a warm place until the surface is covered with little bubbles (about 90 minutes).
Grease the crumpet rings well with butter and place them in a large frying pan over a medium heat - 4 fit snugly in my frying pan so I make them in 3 or 4 batches.
Rub the frying pan with a little butter, just within the area crumpet rings. Wait until the butter has melted and the rings are hot (otherwise the batter will stick horribly and you’ll never want to make crumpets again).
Fill the crumpet rings a little over half way – they’ll rise further as they cook. I use about 60mls of batter per crumpet. Cook gently until the top looks dry and is full of holes - about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the crumpets over, and remove the rings if they will come away easily. Cook the crumpets for a further minute or so, until golden. Traditionally, crumpets are cooked only on one side but this results in a pale unattractive bread.
You can cool them on a wire rack and freeze them at this stage, for later revival in a toaster - which is the preferred manner of many crumpet fanciers. However, I prefer them fresh from the frying pan, smothered in butter - and large doses of an excellent homemade plum jam I was given recently.

*If you don’t have crumpet rings, melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Spoon the batter into the pan to form little cakes – about 2 tablespoons of batter per cake. A crumpet without the support of a crumpet ring is called a pikelet – and is just as good.

Crumpet Connoisseur Verdict:
Light and fluffy? Check!  Lots of holes? Check !  A certain chewy bite? Check !
Would you like another - just to be sure ? Check, check, check !
 
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14 comments:

Magnolia Verandah said...

I have never attempted homemade crumpets. I would need to be super organised to have them for breakfast especially with the 90min wait time. But the make and freeze option could be the go. Yours looks perfect!

motherrimmy said...

Wow! Nice job Hester. I can smell these yeasty little devils. Are you sure they serve 4 - 6? I'd eat the whole batch by myself.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Hester, I adore, adore Crumpets - but I have never dared to make them myself at home - I must admit that you kind of make it look much easier than I thought it would be to make these wonderful tea time treats - goodness, I do have to give this recipe of yours a try - I just have to make the time!!! I can almost taste them!
Hope life is treating you well these days! Have a wonderful week!

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I need some crumpet rings. I've wanted to make these for so long.

Sissi said...

So this is the way crumpets look! They must taste wonderful. I only remember them from an old (no photos) British cookery book and I have always thought they were closer to bread.

Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania said...

OH MY....This sounds like something I must try in my morning breakfast soon...I can see that these are fluffy. Can't wait to try this easy crumpets recipe!

Guru Uru said...

Your crumpets look way better than the packet, so perfectly made soft and delicious :)

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Evan O'Ceallaigh said...

Your crumpets look very good and lovely photography!

Liz Berg said...

Oh, my gosh, these look terrific!!! The "holey" grail for sure. This is what I want on my breakfast plate :)

Amy (Savory Moments) said...

These look wonderful! Great job on making these at home. I bet they smell and taste delicious!

wok with ray said...

You made it looks so simple and I'm sure it is perfect with hot tea. I hope you are having a wonderful week, Hester! :)

Fran @ G'day Souffle' said...

These look so much fresher and better than the kind you buy in the store- WHOOPEEE!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

I still remember when I first tried crumpets at afternoon tea. I didn't know what it was that time. I really loved it and I even found out that there is a store that sells it. :) It will be lovely to make it at home...spread lemon curd... yum, my favorite! It's worth investing on crumpet rings! :)

Jill @ MadAboutMacarons said...

You know, I've never made crumpets. Have happy memories of these with toasted cheddar and served with chutney. Bet they are heavenly, Hester. And pikelets as an extra bonus without the ring? Win win that one!