My love of crumpets goes back many years to childhood and family vacations to British Columbia where my English great aunties Trot and Don lived.
My first actual recollections of crumpets is from a trip to Victoria with my grandparents where we stayed in a motel called the Gorge Motel which had kitchenettes. With five children, I'm sure cooking some meals was a financial necessity for my parents and what treats we had in this "foreign" country.
My mom would purchase wonderful crumpets which were so unusual to me with their many tiny holes and spongy texture; a perfect vehicle for the melting butter and jams or treacle to sink into. Once toasted and topping of choice is applied, you take a bite and the warm butter oozes out along with the sweet topping. Heaven.
While living in downtown Seattle for 11 years, I often would get up bright and early and saunter down the hill to do some weekly shopping at Pike Place Market. I would first stop for breakfast at the Crumpet Shop on First Street. Being a creature of habit, I always ordered a toasted crumpet with a dollop of ricotta cheese and topped with raspberry jam and coffee. I am happy to see that this wonderful little shop has remained open over the years and stop by whenever I am in town to pick up a 6-pack of their fresh crumpets.
Over the years I have attempted to make them a few times. As a teen I remember finding a recipe somewhere and I diligently saved the family's tuna cans to use as molds. Alas, I don't recall the results but since I didn't attempt again for many years, they must not have turned out very well.
Today I found a recipe in a cookbook called English Traditional Recipes - A Heritage of Food and Cooking by Annette Yates. It has very thorough recipes and gorgeous pictures. I became inspired to try out the crumpet recipe and they turned out fantastically, if I do say so myself. I have moved up in the mold department from the tuna cans of yesteryear and actually found these muffin rings at a cooking store here in town. They were very reasonably priced at $4.75 for four. At the price of food right now, four cans of tuna probably would cost more!
(Adapted from English Traditional Recipes by Annette Yates)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fast action yeast granules
2/3 cups milk
1 cup water
oil for greasing rings and skillet
Combine flour, salt, and soda in a medium bowl and whisk ingredients together to sift. Mix yeast into flour mixture. Warm milk and water together until lukewarm. Pour into flour mixture and whisk vigorously to make a thick, smooth batter. Cover and leave in warm place for 1 hour until mixture has a spongy texture.
Heat a griddle and lightly oil the surface and the inside of each of the metal rings then heat the rings for 1-2 minutes until hot. Spoon the batter into the rings to the depth of approximately 1/2 inch. Cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes until the top surface is set and bubbles have burst open to make holes.
When set, carefully lift the rings off, flip the crumpets and cook for another minute or so until lightly browned. This recipe made 9 crumpets.
Lift them off and cool completely on a wire rack. Toast the crumpet until heated through, add the toppings of your choice, eat immediately and think of England!