Crumpets and tea are things of beauty, especially in the winter when warm, buttery, toasted things are welcome by tea time just as the long, dark night begin to close in.
Hand made crumpets
Believe it or not, it's harder to make authentic crumpets than it is to make authentic bagettes, bagels, or pretzels or…(insert bread of choice). Crumpets should have holes on the tops. Crumpets should have holes going all the way through them. Crumpets should have slightly toasted bottoms and ghostly white tops which become golden brown when you toast them. This is not easy to achieve. The batter has to be perfect – at the peak of airiness. Use it too early or too late and the crumpets won't be quite as beautiful. They will, however be delicious because – remember – everything is good toasted.
- frying pan
- crumpet rings
- 180 g fine semolina
- 180 g plain (all purpose) flour
- 400 g water
- 2 g instant yeast OR 4 g dry yeast OR 8 g fresh yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Measure the semolina and the flour into a bowl and make a well in it.
- Add the yeast to the well and then pour over 100 g of the water. Flick some flour over the top to close the well and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Add the rest of the water and the salt and beat well with a spoon or an electric mixer for 2 minutes or so until there are no lumps and the batter is creamy and airy.
- Cover and let sit for 2 hours on a warm day and 4 hours on a cool day. You want the batter to be very airy and full of holes.
- Add the baking powder by pushing it through a fine sieve to get rid of any lumps and mix it in gently and thorougly by hand or with a wire whisk to keep as much air in as you can.
- Let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Heat a frying pan slowly on medium – low heat. If you put a pat of butter in the pan on the end of a knife, it should immediatly sizzle. Be patient, don't turn up the heat. You cannot fry a crumpet successfully on high heat.
- Grease crumpet rings and place them in the pan so they can get hot too.
- Spoon one big spoon of batter in each ring. No more than 1/2 cm of batter in each ring. These will double in size and you don't want your crumpets too fat (believe it or now). You may need to gently push the batter around with a spoon to fill the rings.
- Once the rings are all filled, put the timer on for 8 minutes. As you watch, the batter will begin to bubble. After about 6 minutes the holes should begin to appear on the tops of the crumpets at the same time as they begin to dry out. If the holes are closing up again (and you are super keen for holes) open them up with a skewer as they appear (I am being completely serious).
- At the end of the cooking time, you should be able to lift the rings away from the crumpets and then remove the crumpets from the pan and place them on a cooling rack. The rings are hot, so be careful. I use rubber washing up gloves as they are just thick enough to give you protection and they allow for sufficient dexterity too. You may need to run a little knife around the inside edge of the rings to get the crumpets out.
- If you want to flip your crumpets over so they brown on the tops, only do this only once the crumpets are completely dry or you will close up all the holes.
- If you want to eat them straight away, cook them for longer so they are completely cooked and crispy on the outside. If you are going to save them for later, only cook them until they are *just* dry because you will toast them before eating them.
- They freeze beautifully.