What is a crumpet?
A crumpet is a small griddle cake that is typically prepared with a batter of water or milk, flour and yeast, and that is popular in the United Kingdom, as well as Ireland, and part of the Commonwealth.
There are several flatbreads in every cuisine, as they are the oldest form of unleavened bread in the history of gastronomy. They were traditionally baked on a sizzling hot stone and consumed immediately for various dishes, like juicy stews and rich soups. Their shape even made it possible, to use them as a spoon in those times, when there was no cutlery involved at eating yet.
What is the history of crumpet?
Truth be told, crumpet has come a long way, till it reached its modern shape and texture. The first mention about crompid cake is written in a 1382 translation of the Old Testament by John Wycliffe theologian, from Yorkshire. According to his explanation, it was a crusted, loaf cake sort of bake.
The first written recipes of this Anglo-Saxon creation, has started to appear in the 17th century, when crumpet was understood as a thin, flat pancake, made with buckwheat flour, eggs and hot milk. The recipes have altered with time and in a 1769 issue of The Experienced Housekeeper by Elizabeth Raffald, the batter already contained yeast, to make the bake lighter and higher.
However the recipe calls for fine flour instead of buckwheat and at that time, the baking ring was not in use, to give a regular shape for the crumpets.
The English crumpet recipe has further altered during the Victorian era and crumpet became popular with the spreading of five o’clock tea. It reached its final form by being fried in a shallow baking ring and given the new culinary invention of the century, baking powder was also added to the already yeasted batter to make it even more fluffy and spongy, but the mandatory chewy texture has remained.
After the batter got poured into the ring, it was fried on a high temperature, but only on one side. It wasn’t flipped, so the holes which were formed on the top, remained visible. Those holes not only gave the characteristic appearance of crumpet, but they had the role of keeping butter and other spreads and toppings in place.
What is the difference between an English muffin and a crumpet?
There is a tendency to mix up these bakes, so let’s see what the difference is between them. As we already know, crumpet originates from the world of flatbreads and is made with yeasted batter in the old times, then later with baking powder.
However, the English muffin was born as a utilization of residual bread dough, which was kneaded with potato mash, then fried in a hot pan. The result was airy, crunchy and it quickly became approved by the people, who served the upper class in the Victorian era.
The English muffin was a real poor man’s meal, which was patched up in the kitchen for the servants, but when the lords learned about the new invention, they’ve involved it in their teatime menu. Originally, it was cut in half, then toasted and consumed with butter.
How to serve a crumpet?
Crumpet can be served with many toppings, even if sweet and soft butter is our all time favorite and we recommend you to get your first one with that. They go well with some homemade jam, particularly a tangy marmalade, a rich, aromatic honey, the divisive Marmite or for a generous breakfast with freshly fried, crunchy bacon and maple syrup.
What are the regional versions of crumpet?
There are several variants of crumpet throughout Great Britain and the Commonwealth. The crumpet made by Scottish people is a thick crepe, without leavening agents, made with only eggs.
Probably pikelet is the most well known variation of crumpet, which bears Welsh origins from the meaning “sticky bread”, but it is made without any leavening agent and just simply poured onto the frying surface, hence it looks like a pancake.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 cup milk (warm, at 85 F)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Butter (for baking)
- Pour the yeast into a glass bowl and mix it with 4 teaspoons of warm milk.
- Set aside for 15 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour and mix with the sugar.
- Dig a well in the center and stir in the diluted yeast and remaining milk.
- Using the flat beater, mix at a low speed until obtaining a smooth and homogeneous dough.
- Add the salt and, using the whisk attachment, whisk the dough at medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a cloth and let the dough rise for 1 hour, in a warm place, away from drafts.
- Place 2 or 3 greased pastry rings of about 3 inches diameter and 1½ inches high, in a very hot buttered pan.
- Pour 1 ladle of dough into each of them.
- Cook on low heat for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the top of the dough is dry and small holes form on the surface.
- Remove the circles.
- Turn the crumpets over and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
- Serve immediately.