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Heavy Crumpetting (*snork*)

If you were paying close attention, you would recall how I declared a set of things I wanted to learn hot to cook. The Learn-How List! Today I kicked off with one of the hardest.  A cooking challenge that has eluded me for some years now, and whose rewards are potentially legion. Crumpets.

I love crumpets. M and I have reached a point where we make more things from scratch than we buy ready-made, and now a lot of ready-made stuff has a weird preservative taste, crumpets too. So it’s been yonks since I had those lovely toasty delights full of chambers that fill with melty butter and honey (mmm) or butter and Promite (MMMM) or even – call me crazy, but it totally works – tabasco, tomato and grilled cheese. YES. Ahem. Anyway, haven’t had them in a while; want to find a way of having them without getting the rubbery-chemically ones from the supermarket (also thereby avoiding the necessity of wearing pants on the weekend); cue Pinterest. I found this recipe on Always With Butter and — well, did you click that link? LOOK at those babies! They’re faultless. Enchanté.

Crumpets are essentially a hyper-hydrated, un-kneaded yeast batter: this recipe used 2¾ cups of water to 3 cups of flour, which, if my maths isn’t totally fucked here, is about 163% hydration (also I just realised that when I cooked them, I only used 2½ cups of water, oops-la!). A regular ole bread dough round these parts is about 70%. The high hydration and long resting time both contribute to the gluten development, I gather: when I got around to the dough it was sturdy and stretchy, which is surprising for an un-kneaded dough.

So it’s Saturday morning and I’ve got the batter proofing and I’m boogying around the kitchen, then I realise I have neither egg rings nor cookie cutters, the two implements generally recommended when cooking crumpets. What’s a pantsless wonder to do?

Chop chop

With trusty kitchen scizzahs, the remains of a shipping carton, a stapler and some foil, I fashioned my own.

Crafty is cool! I should know!

M suggested I wouldn’t need rings; that, like pancakes, they would reach a balanced state where the batter’s surface tension would keep them circular and relatively even — I disagreed, citing the hyper-hydrated batter, waving my maths at him and kicking him in the kneecaps.

Homemade Crumpet Ring. (Elevation B)

I was shocked (SHOCKED) at how robust and springy this batter was. I had anticipated something like pancake batter. I began to feel bad for kicking M in the kneecaps, since it was starting to look like he might have been on to something. Compare:

Crumpets in rings, crumpets free-form.

The front one, though blobby, was definitely keeping together. I apologised to M’s kneecaps. You fry the crumpets until they have pretty well cooked through from the bottom up, forcing bubbles of air slowly to the surface, which makes the potholed top. I don’t think I’ve quite got the hang of it: my first few were waaaay overcooked on the bottom.

Liberated crumpet!

When it’s pretty well cooked through, from the bottom, flip the crumpet and cook the top, just quickly. I think I may have been a little impatient. Instead of little potholes, mine are all sealed over:

Alas, sealed crumpets! Whither art the potholes we love?

But split them open and voilá!

GASP

Chambers! Chambers ripe for filling!

JAM TIME

Chambers melty with honey!

HONEY TIME

Crumpetty goodness! Huzzah! Split them open and toast them: man, so cool!

A tower of overtoasted crumpetry!

These aren’t perfect. I won’t be updating my LinkedIn account with “Can Make Crumpets” anytime soon. But I am encouraged! I can kinda see how things are supposed to work and I’ve got a feel for what I want to change next. This is the last two, when I was felt like I got the hang of it:

Final near-triumphs

So the next time around:

  1. All in rings: free-form works fine, but I like the round ones best.
  2. Adjust pan temperature: I think I want them to cook all the way through from the bottom up without burning — not sure if that means a higher or lower heat. I’ll try both. Not at the same time.
  3. A little less in each ring: quite a few came out waaaaaay too thick and sponge-ous.

The important thing is that there will be a next time around. These went really well, but I reckon I can do even better.

My Dadini always said “Man cannot live by bread alone: he must have a bit of crumpet.” But I think he was talking about something else.

MORE JAM TIME

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Alex | January 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Inspiring! I made them this morning for breakfast. It took much longer than pancakes, so I’m not sure if I’ll do it again. I wonder if the batter can be made the night before?

    Anyway they were great. I was also surprised at how gooey the batter was, and like yours, my bubbles didn’t pop very much. Next time I’ll try using a bit more water.

    I didn’t use any sort of egg ring – they sound too messy 🙂 I actually like the funny shapes they came out as. It was very homely!

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