Crumpets are a British Classic. They are also popular in other Commonwealth countries. They are griddle cakes that have characteristic holes in the surface. Those holes allow butter to seep into the crumpets which then gives such a wonderful feeling in the mouth as they are eaten. The texture of crumpets is chewy, spongy and slightly waxy too.
The crumpets are usually cooked on a griddle, or in frying pan/skillet. The batter is dropped into shallow rings which are used to create the round shape. Then the batter is cooked, with the characteristic holes gradually appearing on the surface. As the batter sets the rings can be removed. The holes continue to appear and the surface sheen of the batter will become dull. That usually takes 4 to 5 minutes, though the time varies dependent on the temperature of the griddle/pan. At that point the crumpets are turned over and cooked for a couple of minutes to allow the tops to colour.
A freeform version of crumpets is pikelets. They are cooked without the use of the rings. That allows the batter to spread as it is poured onto the griddle. It makes a thinner griddle cake, with cooking time being less, as the holes appear much more quickly.
Either version, crumpets or pikelets, are great toasted and then spread with butter, which seeps into the holes. Some people like to spread some jam or even a savoury paste on their crumpets which can be great too.
For crumpets it is best to try to make them no more than about 3/4 inch/2 cm thick. That allows the batter to cook, and to create the holes evenly, though randomly across the surface.
The rings used tend to be about 3 inches/8cm in diameter. Although such rings are readily available for purchase it is possible to utilise things like tuna/salmon cans that have had the top and bottom removed, and then the cans thoroughly cleaned.
The recipe is simple. However success depends on achieving a good temperature on the griddle or in the pan. The bottom of the crumpets need to cook and brown with the heat permeating the batter to create the holes. That happens gradually as the surface turns from a wet and shiny sheen to a dull film. At that point it is time to flip the crumpets. They are cooked for just a couple of minutes to colour the tops to a light golden colour.
Then the crumpets are ready to eat, warm if you wish. However it is preferable to allow them to cool and then to toast them which firms the top and bottom a little. They are then ready to eat, having been buttered.
As I did some years ago, when I first made crumpets, I based my crumpets on a recipe by Paul Hollywood on BBC Food. I followed the recipe fairly closely. However I don’t specify cooking times since that is so dependent on the temperature of the pan. Rather, I advise watching the crumpets at they cook, until the holes have appeared and the surface has become dull.
Also I mention how to make pikelets, rather than crumpets, for those who don’t have the necessary rings.
The recipe uses a combination of plain and bread flour, though it is possible to use just one type if you wish. There is a lot of yeast in the recipe too. That allows the batter to rise quickly before slightly falling back. The amount of yeast can be reduced, but that would also mean leaving the batter for longer before it starts to fall back.
The batter is made in two stages. The first is just flour, milk and yeast. Then, when that has risen as mentioned, the second stage is to add a water, salt and baking soda(bicarbonate of soda) solution.
That solution loosens the batter to the consistency of double cream. The baking soda reacts in the batter to aid the creation of the air holes at the batter rises on the griddle.
I made 8 crumpets and 4 pikelets. I set my griddle to a medium heat of about 180C/350F. Then I greased the surface and also the inside of my crumpet rings. I poured in the batter until it was just over half way up my rings, maybe about 3 tbsp. The original recipe said 2 dessert spoons, but they must’ve been really heaped spoons if, as it specifies, it only made 10 – 12 crumpets. My method did make 12 using much more than 2 dessert spoons.
I watched the crumpets as the batter began to set. The heat of the rings set the sides. When that had happened I removed the rings, to clean and be ready for the next batch. Then I watched as the holes gradually appeared on the top of the crumpets. Once the surface had turned dull I turned them over. The bottoms had coloured well and I cooked the tops for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
For the pikelets I scooped about 4tbsp/60ml of batter and poured it onto the griddle spreading it a little into a round. Then I cooked them until the holes appeared, which was quicker than for the crumpets. Again, once the surface had turned dull I turned them over to cook for a further two minutes.
Mine turned out very well indeed, and they tasted so good. The spongy, springy texture was just perfect and, when I toasted and buttered them they were exactly as they should be.
Another great griddle recipe is English Muffins
Crumpets & Pikelets – British ClassicsCourse: BreadCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Medium
175(1 cup + 3 tbsp) based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour
175(1 cup + 2 tbsp) based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) bread flour
14g(2 sachets) instant yeast
4g(1 tsp) sugar
350ml(1 1/2 cup minus 2 tsp) warm milk
160ml – 200ml(2/3 cup to 3/4 cup_4 tsp) warm water(you may not need it all)
3g(1/2 tsp) baking soda(bicarbonate of soda)
vegetable oil for greasing
- Place the flours and yeast into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Add the sugar into the milk and stir to dissolve.
- Pour the milk onto the flour and mix together until everything is combined and smooth, without any lumps.
- Cover the bowl and leave it until the batter rises and then begins to fall back. You will see it has started to fall back since some will cling to the side of the bowl.
- Mix the salt and baking soda into the warm water, until it has dissolved.
- Pour about 3/4 of that liquid onto the batter and stir vigorously until it is combined.
- Continue to add the water solution a little at a time until the mixture equate to the consistency of thick cream.
- Cover the batter and leave it for 20 minutes, until holes start to appear on the surface, leaving a little longer is fine.
- Grease the griddle/frying pan, and the crumpet rings.
- Heat the griddle/pan to a medium heat with the rings in place too.
- Spoon batter into the rings until they are just over half full, or spoon a good amount straight onto the griddle without rings(for pikelets).
- Cook the crumpets until the batter has set around the edge on and the bottom, then you can remove the rings if you wish, to prepare them the the next batch.
- When holes appear over the surface of crumpets and pikelets, and the surface has become dull, it is time to turn them over. The time will be shorter for pikelets. Precise timing depends on the heat of the griddle, so pay attention to when the surface becomes dull and the holes have appeared.
- Turn over the crumpets and/or pikelets and cook for two minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Serve toasted, with butter, jam or whatever you wish.