Tuesday, September 04, 2007

crosswords & morning breads

sunday mornings, and usually a good part of the day, at my house, are often reserved for making bread of some sort and preparing food for the coming week. since there is always a lot of waiting involved when it comes to the bread-making part, it gives me time to do housework crosswords, leisurely drink my (gallons of) coffee and contemplate what i should be doing the rest of that day. oops, 3 pm and i'm still not dressed?? blame it on the unfinished crossword puzzle.

#72 down — 7 letters: london edible "sponge" ...... what the {insert necessary curse word here}!?!

you know, i wasted a lot of time on that one.

the joke was on me though, when i realized the answer was already "cooking" and staring me in the face in my kitchen: CRUMPET!! i guess things were meant to be that particular sunday.

(from linda's culinary and food dictionary):

crumpet (KRUHM-pit) - Crumpets are British griddlecakes. A cross between a pancake and an American-style English muffin, the crumpet is a soft yeast-raised bread that is poured into special rings about the size of a small pancake (flat discs about three inches across and an inch or so deep), then baked on a stovetop. They are similar to an English muffin (one side is smooth, the other full of tiny holes) but flatter. You don't slice a crumpet and it is best toasted. Some, especially in the north of England, call crumpets muffins, while others, particularly in the Midlands call them pikelets (a much thinner and bigger version of a crumpet).

History: British history relates to them as teacakes. Crumpets have been known for several centuries, though the origin of the name is obscure. There are records as far back as the 14th century where they are called a crompid cake. Crompid means "curved up" or "bent into a curve", which is what usually happens to thin cakes baked on a griddle; the word may be linked to crumb, crimp and other words from a common Germanic origin. In the 1930s, the word crumpet became British English slang for a woman regarded as an object of sexual desire.

it seems the english do enjoy their ladies likened to food: the word, tart, comes to mind also, LOL.

find out more about this word here.

.... and what else besides trumpet rhymes with crumpet?? an odd word, indeed.

* * * * *
for first timers, making crumpets may take a little forethought and practice. metal rings are necessary to maintain the shape of these morning breads but they can be easily 'facsimiled' by take either tuna or salmon cans and removing both ends. after a good scrubbing, they are perfect; you'll have saved yourself money from having to buy them at a kitchenwares store and you're recycling. they're also good for many years to come.

the other thing a first timer needs to know or remember is that practice makes perfect. these are fairly fool-proof but one does need to make sure the right texture for the batter is achieved (all is explained below). if the batter is too thick, you'll end up with a cake-like interior. properly greasing the rings is also of extreme importance. apart from these two things, it is a very straightforward recipe and procedure, easily done by most people.

though traditionally made with milk, you can substitute (parve) soymilk for a dairy free version which is good for those on a vegan diet.

* * * * *

weekend crumpets

soft and spongy, these little morning breads are filled with their traditional holes which make the perfect receptacles for capturing freshly melted butter and all kinds of jams. of course, if you're feeling lavish, you could always opt for some double devon or clotted cream to make it a memorable and most enjoyable event ;) these crumpets can be frozen for several weeks, well wrapped, and easily reheated in a toaster for a quick breakfast or anytime snack.

makes 10 to 12


1 tsp sugar
12 oz milk (or soy milk)
1 pkg yeast (1/2 oz or 17 g fresh)

170 g all purpose flour
170 g bread flour
1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp warm water

1/3 to 1/2 c water

oil or butter (or parve margarine)
crumpet rings*


mix both flours together with the salt and set aside.

warm the milk and add the sugar and the yeast. let it proof several minutes and then thoroughly mix to dissolve.

make a well in the center of the flour mixture. add the milk and yeast mixture into the center of the flour and mix well.

now either mix in a heavy duty mixer or using a strong wooden spoon, mix the batter for a good 4 to 5 minutes.

it must be worked so that when the mixture is lifted it will make a unbroken rope indicating that the gluten has been activated enough. if you skip this (mixing) step, you won't end up with a properly finished bread.

cover the bowl and let it rise for an hour to an hour and a half in a warm place (like a prewarmed oven with the pilot light on - heat the oven on the lowest setting for about a minute first before putting anything inside). let the dough rise until it has doubled. it may drop if the yeast is very active. that's a good sign and perfectly fine.

now mix together the baking soda and 3 tbsp of water and add it to the dough mixture. stir well for another 2 or 3 minutes and cover the bowl. it needs to rise again for a 1/2 hour.

grease the rings well and place them in a frying pan or skillet over medium heat. if you don't oil them well enough, you can expect disaster come time to release them.

now for the "hard" part: deciding if the batter is the right texture. in order to make a "proper" crumpet, the batter has to be thin or thick "enough", depending on how you are looking at it, so that it will make the characteristic network of holes. most likely, your mixture will be too thick at this point. it's hard to say, as different flours in different countries will absorb moisture at different rates; it also depends on the time of year.

the guideline is that the batter has to be the consistency that it will drop easily into the rings in a semi solid/liquid state. what does that mean? the batter can't be too thin or too thick. so ..... make a test one first but before starting: lift the batter up with a spoon and let it drop back into bowl. if it drops in a single lump then it's too thick, if it runs all the way back into the bowl like milk would, for example, it is too thin (this is unlikely the case).

therefore, add enough water so that the batter will easily fall back into the bowl and still maintain a somewhat "gloppy" state. i suggest testing only one crumpet first — if it makes the proper holes (see below), then it's thin enough. if not, add a little more water and retest.

with that said.....

keep an extra little dish of oil and a teaspoon next to the stove.

place ONLY approximately 1/4 c (or a little less) into the rings. you don't need a lot as it will rise due to the yeast.

right away, take about a 1/2 teaspoon of oil and distribute it around the circumference of the crumpet to help it release. experience has shown that this one of the easiest ways, unless you want to start taking a knife and having to gouge it out.

in about 1 minute's time the mixture will rise and start to show holes.

after about 2 minutes, the holes will start to open up and remain open.

by 3 minutes or so, the tops should be fairly dry with only the centers somewhat still wet. it is important that the tops be almost completely dry as they will fuse together if still wet when flipped over to cook.

once the tops look almost completely cooked (dry) --> it should only take about 4 to 4 1/2 minutes at most, remove the rings. this may require you to use the help of a knife. if they are completely stuck then you did not add enough oil.

flip the crumpets over and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

voila! your own perfect creations.

(here they are cut in half to show the interior structure)

enjoy, toasted & slathered in butter & jam!


Roo said...

Hey hey - good post, and they look fabulous. My one concern is that I have never heard a crumpet called a muffin in the North East, we always called them pikelets.

Oh, and what rhymes with crumpet - strumpet of course ;o)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, your crumpets look gorgeous! You remind me of my holidays in England. That very speciality was always one of my all-time favorite breakfast breads! I love their awesome sponginess...
I'm keeping that recipe, thanks for sharing!
On Sundays, your house must smell good with all that baking. Nothing's better than the smell of fresh bread!

TBTAM said...

Gorgeous! We calll these "English muffins" in the States, I had no idea that this was what a crumpet was.

Anonymous said...

Your crumpets are awesome! Mine always stick to my rings and it's a never ending battle of pulling them off therefore I just don't make them much anymore. Too much work! LOL I'm comparing your recipe to mine to see what the deal is. For sure our rings are different, mine are black and "non stick" although everything sticks. Maybe a different kind of oil would remedy it? Soooooo disappointing, how I love crumpets.

burekaboy — said...

roo - LOL. exactly -- strumpet, i was avoiding that one. all we need now is a trumpet-playing strumpet, hehe.

as for the correctness of that quote, i wouldn't take it as gospel. i didn't know a crumpet went by so many different names. i'll just continue to call them 'marvy' ;p

hi rosa - it wouldn't be a holiday in britain without them (at breakfast), now would it? hard just to eat only one, too! i usually double the recipe and freeze most of them for later.

TBTAM - people also call them english muffins here, too, but really they're not the same. english muffins don't have the holes and are more 'bready' -- they're the kind you split open and have fine cornmeal on the bottoms; crumpets are left whole. i actually have a preference for the crumpet as it has all those holes for melted butter!! :)) both are great whatever you decide to call them. thanks for commenting.

jamila - thanks a lot :) i hear you loud and clear. i have had the same problem in the past also whichever recipe i tried. the KEY to making them not stick is heavily buttering or greasing the tins and then drizzling that 1/2 teaspoon of oil or more melted butter around the edges as they cook. you'll see a MAJOR difference. mine don't even stick (mostly) when i make them this way. give them a try again and you'll see!! :) no more struggling with getting them out.

Tammy said...

I'd really like to try these this Sunday. I don't use the same flour you do. We use freshly ground soft wheat flour (aka pastry flour) and spelt flour. I do have some hard wheat flour that I use to make yeast bread, so I guess maybe this would be considered bread flour - but it would be whole wheat. Any reccommendations on what flour to use? thanks

burekaboy — said...

hi tammy - use hard wheat flour for the bread flour and either the pastry flour or pastry & spelt for the all purpose. just make sure you have the rings to contain the batter and that the final batter is "sloppy" but not thin and runny. you'll have to test one to see -- if it makes the honeycomb type holes on top, the texture is right. if not, add more water gradually and test again. hope you enjoy them. they're great and very easy to make. let me know how they turn out. you may have to experiment with your flours until you get something you really like.

Tammy said...

Thanks for the flour info. Another question - How do you get the bottom of tuna cans off. We're not having much success. Our tuna cans are "rounded" on the bottom. Hhmmm?

burekaboy — said...

tammy - glad i could be of help.

now for the bad news, umm, i don't have any brilliant suggestions to solve the tuna can problem except to say that i use(d) the european kind of tuna which comes packed in oil in cans which are like the old style. the ones from the USA and Canada seem to have switched to those stupid rounded bottom ones. perhaps a different kind of can like salmon? if you're willing to foot the expense, you can find rings at home depot used for other kinds of things other than cooking or at places like williams sonoma or sur la table where they sell them specifically made for making crumpets.

Tammy said...

Thanks for the tip. I'll look for other cans, but I'm thinking they are the same. I checked out the kitchen stores and the closest thing I could find was "fried egg rings". Would those work? I'm not sure what the diameter should be for the crumpets. My 15yo daughter REALLY wants to try the crumpets, so we will not give up!

burekaboy — said...

hey tammy - well now, you CAN'T disappoint your daughter! LOL. i'm you and she will have fun making them together, too. you can order them here; they're cheap and will be delivered to your door. can't beat that! as i mentioned, you may also have luck in a home depot or ace hardware store with some sort of piping/rings which they can cut for you very cheaply. i imagine the above is the cheapest and easiest route. hope that helps.

Tammy said...

HI Burekaboy,
Thanks for the link for the rings. I've got them ordered and will be trying the recipe soon! Yeah!!! Daughter is VERY excited. I'll let you know how they turn out with the whole wheat flours.
Oh, I ordered Peter Reinhart's new book (Whole wheat breads) that you told me about a while ago. Looking forward to that :)
Thanks again!

burekaboy — said...

tammy - glad to hear you were able to order them. now the hard part -- waiting for everything to arrive. i'm sure you'll love the book. i'm actually waiting for my copy (signed), too. if you can, find the village baker too -- you can prob find it cheaply 2nd hand in amazon or in a good 2nd hand book shop. it has lots of info you'd like and he explains a lot.

really hoping the crumpets turn out great :) remember, you may need to play around with the flour until you get a balance you like and is palatable. also, make sure to use the 1/2 tsp of oil around the crumpet as it cooks so it releases very easily otherwise you'll end up having to gouge them out with a knife.

Tammy said...

Hi Burekaboy,
Success!!!! We made our whole wheat crumpets and they turned out great! I used hard whole wheat and soft whole wheat (pastry flour). My rings are probably only 1 1/2 - 2 inches high, so mine where not as "tall", cutting them didn't go to well. But they sure did taste great. thank you so much. I also wanted to let you know I received Peter Reinhart;s book. I can't thank you enough for recommeding that. I haven't actually "made" anything yet, but the info is fascianting. I've soaked flour ovenight before (according to Nourishing Traditions) but this is WAY different. I'm so exicted to read more and get started (can you tell?) thank you, thank you, thank you.
Enjoy the day.

burekaboy — said...

hi tammy - you're welcome, welcome, welcome! LOL.

usually, one doesn't cut crumpets rather they are just shmeared on top with butter and jam or devon cream. (you may be thinking of english muffins which are split open). traditionally, there is a network of holes (see pictures of baking above in the rings), like a beehive, which are open and the butter, etc sinks in. you only turn the crumpets to cook, very very briefly, once the top has set and is dry or almost completely dry so the holes don't close up. remember, you'll never get them as picture perfect as commercially made ones, so don't be dissapointed if they don't come out 100%.

try making the english muffins, too. those you can throw in the toaster (as well as the crumpets if they're not too thick).

i'm happy to hear you like peter's book. i knew you would :) try getting 'the village baker' as i said before. it's also worth the money and you can get it second hand, very cheaply, through amazon.

burekaboy — said...

tammy - if you do cut them, you need a serrated knife. a butter knife just don't work. the interior needs to be cut with a jagged edged bread knife (serrated).

Anonymous said...

if you visit 'rustic's site in english, you'll find alovely dessert you can prepare with crumpet. the date january 31, 2007.try it. best wishes from Istanbul.

burekaboy — said...

anonymous- merhaba ;) thanks for your comment.

this looks GREAT and something i will definitely try. i would never have thought to make kadayif with a crumpet!

teþekkür ederim! hope to "see" you again :)) regards from canada!