They sit somewhere between bread, pancake and an (English) muffin with a spongy, open texture. Their primary purpose is as a butter-delivery device (although some people also enjoy them with other toppings). When they turn out well, the big holes go most of the way through and the melting butter oozes out of the bottom -- gotta be fast before it all gets away!
To make 12-25 (depending on size of rings) you'll need:
- A cast-iron skillet or large frying pan
- Crumpet rings (or egg rings) to contain the batter
- 450g plain flour
- 350ml warm milk (at body temperature)
- 350ml warm water (at body temperature)
- 5g yeast
- 10g of salt (this will look like a lot but it's essential!)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Butter for greasing (and melting into the end result)
Step 1: Make the Batter
Whisk together the flour, liquids and the yeast. Do not add the salt or baking powder at this stage, it inhibits the yeast.
Set the mixture aside for a couple of hours in a warm room until it's lovely and bubbly. You can leave it for only 1 hour if you're short on time or up to 5 hrs if you're not (leaving it longer will give you a touch more sourness).
Once the batter has bubbled up and you're ready to cook them, whisk in the salt and the baking powder. The baking powder gives the batter the kick that makes the big holes.
Step 2: Cooking the Crumpets
Grease the rings with butter and put them on the pan, grease the pan in the middle of the ring. You want the butter to sizzle when it hits the pan but not smoke.
Start with a trial run:
- Fill a ring half full (the batter puffs up a lot as it cooks).
- It should take about 5 minutes for bubbles and then holes to appear on the top.
- Once the top has just set, flip the ring and toast the top.
If the batter takes too long to set then the pan may be too cold, turn up the heat slightly.
If the bottom burns before the top has set or you get smoke, the pan is too hot, turn it down slightly. If the batter is the right thickness then there really is a critical temperature where it will bubble and set but not burn!
Once you've got it dialled in, start making batches of about 4 at a time. It's easier to keep the temperature constant when you have 4 or more crumpets in the pan at once.
Step 3: Serve (or Store)
Crumpets should really be eaten straight away with butter melting into the holes.
However, with the rings I have (which are a little too small), this recipe makes about 25 crumpets. That's too much even for me. If, like me, you can't manage them all as they come off the griddle, then you can cool them on a wire rack and then store them in a plastic bag. Just pop them in the toaster to rejuvenate them before serving. They also freeze well.