The Fresh Loaf

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Crumpets

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copyu's picture
copyu

Crumpets

Hi all,

I haven't blogged for a while. (Lots of trouble uploading photos, which is a fairly big part of what blogging is about, I suppose; it could just be a problem at my end...Nevertheless, following all the directions on the site, implicitly, still does not work for me. I don't care why, any more...)

We've had weather that was too lousy for me to go out and about, so I did a fair bit of cooking and baking this weekend. Top of my list was a 45% durum semolina loaf made with a tiny 65 gram sourdough ‘biga’ that came out pretty well and helped me learn a lot about proper 'shaping' of a round loaf. (I’m still learning, as you can see!) I just had a hankering for good English crumpets (what other kind is there?)

The bread:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71323838@N00/5709745191/in/photostream/

I know that my credibility is probably weak—NY yank and all, living in Japan—but I went to Australia at a 'formative' age. Back then, people in Oz used to say, "Our daughter's gone 'back home' for a year..." meaning she'd returned to some part of Great Britain where her ancestors (may have) lived...We also used to eat Cornish pasties; London buns; Bath buns; Banbury pasties; disgusting (but very delicious) sausage rolls; rock buns; roast lamb dinners [with mint sauce(!)] and, of course, fish & chips—in other words, I'm trying to say that we had the benefits (or otherwise) of the typical, full British diet as our daily cuisine. Supermarkets were still a 'thing of the future', back then...We paid nine-pence for a freshly-made meat pie or pasty in those days.

I found an ancient sourdough crumpet recipe on my HDD using volume measurements <GRRR!> and, because I only had rye starter, I ended up with:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71323838@N00/5710307490/in/photostream/

They were tasty enough, with lashings of butter and jam…but there weren’t really enough holes to satisfy a crumpet ‘aficionado’. I rectified that today with this all-white crumpet recipe cobbled together from 4-5 web-sites and modified, by me, to accommodate a small amount of white sourdough starter. (I used some of the leftover white-flour ‘biga’ from the semolina loaf.) This is what I got:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/71323838@N00/5709745211/in/photostream/

Maybe not ‘up to snuff’ for a lover of true British crumpets, but would probably satisfy any expatriate British colonial who can’t find the usual 6-pack of 'supermarket fare'.

copyu

Comments

copyu's picture
copyu

 

English Crumpets

Makes about 6-9; Time: 2 hours [Sourdough alternatives in square brackets and italics]

230g [SD: 185g] (2 US cups) unbleached flours; (APF and bread flour, about 50-50 is good)

5g (1 teaspoon) baking powder

3g (1 teaspoon) instant yeast [SD: use ¼-½ teaspoon, if using a ‘vigorous’ sourdough starter]

2-4g (¼-½ teaspoon) granulated sugar (optional)

250g (2¼ US cups; 1 metric cup) [SD: 185g] water, lukewarm

5g (1 teaspoon) coarse salt, or to taste (grey sea salt 5g = 1 teaspoon)

140ml milk, room temperature. (Option: soured milk or buttermilk would work well, too)

Crumpet rings, 90 x 30mm (3½ x 1¼ inch) seems optimal—up to 100mm (4 inches) is OK. Don’t go under 75mm (3 inches). Work out how many will fit onto your pan or griddle.

[Sourdough Alternative: add 90g (3oz) 100% hydration white SD starter to the sifted flours. Cut both flour and water by 45g, (1½ oz), so: 185g flour and 185g water. You can leave this SD starter, flour and water batter for a few hours, or even overnight on the counter, before adding baking powder, salt, (sugar) yeast and milk, if you wish. Scheduling the mix is up to you.]

Preparation:

Sift together the flours into a large bowl. Add instant yeast (and sugar) and mix to incorporate. Mix in the lukewarm water to make a thick, but smooth batter, beating vigorously with a whisk or a wooden spoon for two minutes. (Cake mixers will work fine, too.) Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm spot for about an hour. [For SD: see Alternative note above—you can let sourdough ‘work’ much longer, if you want...]

Add the salt and beat the batter for about a minute. Then cover the bowl again and let stand in a warm spot for 15 to 20 minutes, so the batter can rest. At this point, you can get your griddle or frying pan hot and oil the crumpet rings.

Dissolve the baking powder in the warm milk. Then gently stir it into the batter. The batter should not be too stiff or your crumpets will be ‘blind’ (i.e., without eyes or holes) so it’s best to test one before cooking the entire batch. As a guideline, the batter itself should have bubbles throughout. If not, your baking powder could have expired.

Heat a clean griddle or non-stick frying pan over moderately low heat for about 3 minutes, until quite hot. It’s not necessary to oil the griddle (but it’s an option to grease it very lightly if it makes you feel more comfortable.) Put a spotless and well-oiled crumpet ring on the hot surface.

Spoon or pour batter into the ring. The amount of batter will depend on the size of your crumpet ring. Four ‘dessertspoons’ worked well for my rings, sized as above (90 x 30mm). You’re aiming for a 20mm (¾ inch) thick crumpet.

Almost as soon as the batter is poured into the ring, it should begin to form holes. If holes do not form within a minute, your batter may be too thick. You could add a little more lukewarm water or milk, a tablespoon at a time, to the batter in the bowl and beat; then try again. They take a while to cook, so keep the heat low and be patient. The bottoms can handle quite a bit of browning, as long as they don’t burn. On my gas stove, I use the lowest and second-lowest settings only, varying the temp as the mood or my instinct takes me.

As soon as they are ready (you will notice that the batter is drying on top) remove the ring with a towel or tongs and turn the crumpet carefully (I recommend an egg slide for this) but make sure the crumpet is not too ‘liquid’ on top. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer near the center of the crumpet to test, if you’re not completely sure. You don’t want to ‘block’ those lovely holes by flipping them too soon!

Cook the second side of the crumpet for 2 to 3 minutes only, until pale golden. Remove the crumpet from the griddle. Re-oil the crumpet rings well after each use, cleaning if necessary, first. Paper towels are your friends.

NB: Don’t trust anyone else to wash your crumpet rings for you. They need to be really spotless on the inside, or the crumpets will stick. (Please don’t ask me how I know this!) If the rings are really clean and well-oiled, the crumpets will ‘pull away’ from the sides of the rings as they cook.

Cheers,

copyu

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

and I don't have any history with crumpets!

Paul

copyu's picture
copyu

These could be tricky to make, if you've never seen or eaten a crumpet before.

Here's an old (and very feeble) joke from my childhood—you go to a public phone, dial the information free-call and, when they ask what information you need, you ask them, "How many holes are there in a crumpet?"  Stupid joke, I know, but the secret is getting (and preserving) the maximum number of holes possible in that little 90mm 'pancake'. I was only half-successful in this, my third attempt. I'll keep trying and I'll post tips if I get any more insights.

I know that ananda has posted a formula with baker's percentages that looks really good...there's video and a lot of commentary as well, which puts my little effort to shame.

Found it:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15953/crumpets-and-muffins

Best,

copyu

 

 

 

varda's picture
varda

When it comes to crumpets I have only had the supermarket variety and north american supermarkets at that.   These look better by a long shot.   Thanks for putting this together.   -Varda

copyu's picture
copyu

It's my pleasure. I'm glad you know what crumpets are supposed to look like, at least. These are worth a try, I think.

I was shocked to read on someone's blog that the US editors of the "Harry Potter" books had switched the original word 'crumpets' for 'muffins'...'they didn't want to confuse their readers with too many British cultural references' was the excuse. It may not be true, but sounds likely. Oh, my goodness!

Best, Varda,

copyu

Breadandwine's picture
Breadandwine

Hi copyu

We paid nine-pence for a freshly-made meat pie or pasty in those days.

Wow, you do go back a long ways! I spent 12 years in Australia, over 50 years ago now, and I'm sure I paid a bit more than that for a meat (well, gravy, really) pie - and sauce, don't forget the sauce!

About crumpets: Thanks for that recipe. I used to use baking powder back along, when making crumpets or pikelets,  since all the recipes I came across included this. But I've found it isn't really necessary. Here's my take on these lovely breads:

http://nobreadisanisland.blogspot.com/2010/06/pikelets.html

As you'll see, I don't have the patience to make crumpets, when pikelets are so much quicker - and are just as tasty IMO. 

Several things I'd add to your comments: you really should wait until the top is completely dry before turning over, I've found. Otherwise the holes close up and you've made 'blind' crumpets or pikelets; I'd urge anyone who makes these to make the dried fruit version. They're unbelievably good. And, when beginning a new starter, use the discard to make either crumpets or pikelets.

Back to your very evocative post and your mention of fish and chips. I'll never forget going ashore in Fremantle, WA, in 1960, and seeing a flashing neon sign:

"Hot chips" it read. As if there are any other sort!:-D

Best wishes, Paul

copyu's picture
copyu

I only go back a bit over 50 years. Most of the commercial pies and pasties I ate in primary (elementary) school were actually a shilling (12 pence) each in the city. However, I went to primary school there for 4 years and it's true that they were 'a bob a piece' for most of that time in Adelaide. Maybe I picked up on my older cousin reminiscing about a few years earlier, when a pie only cost nine-pence. (Such a huge price-hike in such a short time is unlikely.) Perhaps I was also remembering the very clever fund-raisers of my school...every couple of months, mothers and grans would make the pies and pasties at home and donate them to the school—then the kids would buy them back at a reduced price  over the commercial goods. (6d or 9d each!) Heheheh! It wouldn't work today! That's probably what I was remembering. Thanks for the correction.

I love pikelets, as well, but there is something about a crumpet that is unique...double or triple leavening...sourdough, plus commercial yeast, plus the baking powder...My wife is hooked on them, now! Pikelets don't re-heat or 'toast' as well and the butter and honey/jam just roll off the top, no matter how well they are made. It's all about the holes! 

Thanks, Paul,

copyu

[Edit: PS: I've had your web-site bookmarked for quite some time. Very interesting reading and recipes. Thanks. copyu]

  

jcking's picture
jcking

I recognize that yellow crumb color a mile away; durum. Seems like a few others are playing with it. Sorry about the pic post problem. Nice looking loaf!

Jim

copyu's picture
copyu

You've got a good eye, there, especially considering the smart-alecky digital cameras we have nowadays...I chose that particular photo because it showed-off the yellowness of the durum semolina. In most of the other photos, it looks just like any other wheat-based white bread.

The picture-posting problem is a pain, but I don't care any more...I tried an experimental blog entry and the first pic uploaded just fine...the next effort, following the steps precisely—no way! I give up. Until there's a decent 'browse' function that will find a pic (wherever it is) and allow one to upload (if it's within spec) I'm going to be more 'verbal' than 'pictorial'.

Cheers, Jim,

copyu

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi copyu,

Splendid effort on your part, and use of sourdough too.

Yep, unique to me, as these use a ferment in conjunction with soda; not a common process.

I'd refer you all to Elizabeth David if you want to read anymore.   You can see the full details of her book on my home TFL page, here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/ananda 

I was given the formula I posted originally when I was studying at College.   The donor is a top baking expert, so it should be ban-on.

All good wishes

Andy

kim's picture
kim

Hi Copyu,

Nice to see your new post. I will try your crumpets recipe soon when we get a lot of local fresh fruits in the farmer market. Your durum semolina loaf looks really good especially the golden color. My friends baked durum semolina loaf a few days ago but she never gets the golden crumb (40% durum semolina), right now I’m wondering why?  Thank you again for the English crumpets recipe.

Kimmy

copyu's picture
copyu

Good luck with the crumpet recipe. Remember to be patient and do not try to rush things too much. They do take a bit of time to 'set' properly. The farmers' market sounds great and I wish I had access to such a resource. I got used to producing a lot of my own (summer) fruits and veges in Australia, but living here in the big city of Tokyo, where we import 60-70% of our food, we have to pay a lot for it. I really miss having a garden!

It's still a bit of a mystery to me why the yellow color is lacking...most of my durum semolina loaves lose that lovely color between the mixing bowl and the oven, as well. You CAN see the color, in person, when you compare a plain white loaf with a semolina loaf, but it's a subtle shade difference and not 'saffron-yellow' most of the time. My problem (I think) is because I usually use an all-rye sourdough starter. No matter what I do, the bread usually looks 'greyish'.

I think I was just lucky this time, because I made an all-white 'biga' instead of using the rye starter. I also had to really choose my photo carefully. Most of the [digital] photos of this loaf turned out looking just like plain white bread. I CAN report that using regular, yellow semolina gave me a bit more color than when using semolina flour...I used high hydration and long, slow fermentation with the regular semolina, though, so mixing time was minimal...1-2 minutes with a wooden spoon. In this vein, the yellow color MAY be due to the beta-carotenes in the durum flour (I'm just guessing!) and over-mixing could be the cause of losing the yellow color. I know that beta-carotenes are easily oxidized and will turn pale if too much oxygen is incorporated into the dough. Lower mixer speeds or less mixing time could help. My pictured loaf was mixed with dough-hooks on the lowest speed for about 5 minutes, with me 'helping' the mixer to hydrate the dough quickly, using a silicone spatula to push the dry flours into to the dough. The 'real experts' will chime-in here, if I'm talking nonsense...

Thank you, and best wishes, Kimmy,

copyu   

PS: I only know one (Italian) bakery here that makes a 100% semolina baguette. Last time I bought one from there, it looked as if the baker had put a couple of tablespoons of yellow food-colouring into the water for the dough it was so bright. (It actually wouldn't surprise me if they HAD colored the dough...you know...legally permitted additive...saves confusion among the staff actually baking the breads...) Sorry for being so cynical! copyu  

copyu's picture
copyu

I had a couple of crumpets stick to the rings, today. I realized what I had done wrong too late. The rings need to be as hot as the pan or griddle. Since they're thin, they don't take that much time to heat up, but impatience was my downfall.

On the second batch (of eight crumpets) I heated the washed rings on medium-high heat. Then I turned the heat off (for the sake of safety, as I use a gas cook-top) and quickly sprayed the rings with oil while they were in the pan. Then I turned the gas back on to low and waited a few minutes before spooning in the batter. This, my fourth-ever attempt to make crumpets, was near-perfect (apart from the sticking episode with the first two crumpets.) The second batch all parted from the rings, as advertised in the original post.

I'd fed the starter last night and, early this morning, I poured out 90g of the starter into a bowl, mixed in the flour and water to make the batter and waited a few hours. There was a little activity already. I then added a pinch of instant yeast and an equal amount of sugar (less than a quarter teaspoon of each) and stirred them in with a chopstick. This really got a lot of bubbling going. I left the milk out for quite a long time and added the salt to the milk. When I was ready for the final stage, I added the baking powder to the milk and salt and whisked that in, again using a chopstick.

Crumpet batter before adding milk or baking powder. It's risen and started to collapse.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62989574@N03/5730758954/in/photostream/

Crumpets cooking. The white on top shows they're not quite set

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62989574@N03/5730758974/in/photostream/

Rings removed

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62989574@N03/5730207905/in/photostream/

Finished! You can see the one that stuck at center

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62989574@N03/5730207993/in/photostream/

This worked really well.  

Best,

copyu