One thing I’ve never really ventured into is bread making. I’ve baked bread rolls, loaves and pizza dough but never dared to tread outside the basic flour, yeast and water mixture. Yet, there are so many interesting variations: pita bread, soda bread, tea cakes, hot cross buns, English muffins, croissants…and then there’s the traditional English crumpet, my all time favourite.
I recently visited the Hambleton Bakery (if you’re ever passing through Peterborough/Leicestershire area, it is well worth a visit!) and I left with a paper bag filled with breaded delights. It was late afternoon when we arrived home so we sat down with a cup of tea and sampled one of the baked-on-the-premises crumpets (how very English!) and it was like no other crumpet I’d tasted. Wondering why I had never tried making them before, I set about finding out where to start and it seems, crumpet rings are the vital ingredient!
This recipe will make twelve crumpets and will take up to two hours, and a fair bit of concentration! I’d recommend dedicating an afternoon.
Before you start, make sure you have the following:
Crumpet rings – essentially just metal rings like cookie cutters but with thicker rims. I have four.
The main ingredients:
250g strong white bread flour, sieved.
1 x 7g sachet dried active yeast
275ml of milk
The essential little extras:
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Butter for greasing (and to serve!)
1. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the sachet of yeast and your little extras – caster sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt. (Not the butter)
2. In a pan, mix the water and milk together and heat gently over a hob on a low heat until lukewarm.
3. Once lukewarm, pour the water and milk mixture into the flour mixture and use a balloon whisk to whisk it for approximately two minutes. A batter will form.
4. Once suitably whisked. Place a damp tea towel on top of the bowl and place it in warm place for one or two hours (depending on how much time you have!)
N.B. I used a freshly washed tea towel that wasn’t quite dry yet and stood my mixture on a shelf in my airing cupboard for an hour and a half.
5. After standing your mixture should have risen and be full of bubbles. A bit like this:
Crumpet mixture after an hour and a half standing time
6. Now it’s time to cook your mixture. Grease your crumpet rings generously. Use a non stick frying pan (a pancake pan is perfect for this) and melt a little butter on the pan.
7.I found about two tablespoons of the mixture in each worked well.
The crumpets starting to rise
8. Cook on a low heat for around ten minutes, until you can see that the surface is bubbly and the mixture is cooked. As they cook the crumpets should shrink away from the sides of the ring and be easy to remove from the ring. Be wary at this stage as the crumpet rings are very hot – use an oven glove to remove the rings.
Now lather generously with butter, jam or honey and enjoy your homemade, traditional English crumpet as an indulgent breakfast, a savoury mid-afternoon snack or with a cup of tea as a warming treat when you arrive home from work…