Gaylord will be the first to tell you that I am a messy cook. According to him, when he’s faced with the washing up which I always insist ‘really isn’t that much!’, I have somehow managed to use every pan that we own to make breakfast. In my defence, Turkish eggs – poached eggs served on a creamy mound of garlic yoghurt and drizzled with paprika butter – needs two saucepans (and a frying pan if we eat bacon on the side). I haven’t inherited much in terms of features from my dad, but using all the kitchen equipment for one meal seems to be genetic trait. But, then I made crumpets, and what can I say, the kitchen was spotless.
The reason why? Well, there’s a frying pan involved – non-stick naturally to make life easier for myself – a bowl in which you mix the batter, and a jug to prepare the slurry of yeast and water. There’s a whisk, a ladle. And there’s the crumpet rings. Of which I own one.
When I get down to it, that one crumpet ring is probably why the kitchen clean up is so easy. Watching one crumpet cook at a time can be only a little bit more fascinating than watching water boil or paint dry, so to occupy myself, I tend to wash up. Each crumpet takes around 10 minutes to cook. So, can you imagine how spotless the kitchen was by the end?
My food bucket list
Crumpets have been on my ‘to-cook list’ for years. When I was younger, my parents would buy them in packets from the supermarket which I would eat with lots of butter and honey, melting through the holes in runnels and pooling all over my hands.
I first made them during my first chef job (for more behind the scenes info on that baptism by fire, read it here!) where they were served with herby garlic butter on the side of crystal-clear tomato consommé. As most days I was the chef in charge of the pastry section (because it was the easiest station where the least went wrong (and I’m not even joking)) it was my responsibility at the end of each day – closing around 10pm to 12am – to make the crumpet batter.
This required crumbled fresh yeast, flour, water, and other ingredients which, thanks to exhaustion and general despondency towards a job I did not suit in the slightest, I have forgotten.
Occasionally since then, I’ve tried to repeat the recipe from memory and they were stocky little sponges most of the time, sponges without the essential holes though.
So, I put them on my food bucket list for 2022 in the hope I would conquer this long sought-after stodgy carb – and, now, I can say, I have. And where’s the fun in glory if I can’t share the recipe here?!
So, how do you make crumpets?
All you need are ingredients from your cupboards, which for me is a rarity, what with my regular back-and-forth to Lidl, I seem to live there these days.
- Combine flour, salt and warm water in a bowl and whisk enthusiastically for 5 minutes.
- Dissolve dried yeast in a splash of warm water.
- Add the yeast liquid, along with baking powder and sugar, to the first bowl and beat again for 30 seconds, maybe less enthusiastically now because you’re tired.
- Leave to rise for 20 minutes or so.
- Once bubbles appear on the surface, grease your rings and frying pan, turn up the heat and gently cook spoonfuls of batter in the rings until golden, set and riddled with holes.
- Flip to toast the top.
And there’s nothing more to it than that!
I was delighted! They are so springy and taste just like the crumpets of my childhood (except these have none of that long-life preservative flavour). And who doesn’t love an easy recipe now and then? (A nice contrast to last week anyway…)
But then, because I like to make my life complicated and I’m never satisfied, I made bacon crumpets. And served them as eggs benedict with more bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise.
The bacon crumpets were a revelation – pieces of crisp salty bacon were added to the batter as I filled the crumpet ring (don’t forget, I have only one), and the crumpet rose up around the bacon like a bubbly bouncy castle. Served with all that hollandaise and the poached eggs, each bite was salty and chewy yet crispy, plus not only do crumpets look like little edible sponges, but that’s their main objective and soak up hollandaise very efficiently.
Although, thanks to the hollandaise, poached eggs, bacon and crumpets, there’s quite a lot of washing up for Gaylord to do… At least there’s only one crumpet ring to wash.
Crumpets (with optional bacon!)
- 3 or more crumpet rings
- 150 g flour
- 200 ml warm water cool enough for you to put your finger in but not too cool that the yeast won't react
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 slices of streaky smoked bacon optional
- Melted butter for greasing or oil for vegan crumpets
- Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and warm water. Using a whisk, beat the batter for 5 minutes – or if you're feeling lazy, use an electric whisk for half the time – and keep it up!
- In a jug or small bowl, mix together a tbsp warm water with the yeast.
- Add the yeast mixture to the batter, along with the sugar and baking powder. Once again whisk to combine, this time for around 30 seconds.
- Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 15-20 minutes until there are bubbles on the surface of the batter.
- If you would like to make bacon crumpets, chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry until lightly crisp. Set aside.
- Grease the crumpet rings with melted butter and warm a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Grease the pan with butter and flavourless oil. Once hot add a ladleful of batter to each ring, reach around halfway up the ring. It will sizzle and bubbles will form.
- If you would like to add bacon, now is the time. Sprinkle a pinch of the cooked bacon pieces over the crumpet batter. Top with a little extra batter.
- Keep your eye on the crumpets, and lower the temperature to medium and then to medium-low if you think the pan is getting too hot – you don't want the bases to burn.
- Cook for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the heat of the pan. Slowly a skin will form over the surface and bubbles will burst. The centre will take the longest but move the crumpets around a bit so they share the heat and so the bases don't burn.
- Once the liquid on the surface has sealed and all the bubbles have formed, you can remove the rings and flip the crumpets to toast the tops. Cook the tops for 30 seconds until lightly golden.
- Serve with butter and honey or Marmite or Nutella or as a slap-up breakfast with poached eggs and hollandaise