Is there anything more comfortingly British than a crumpet? Crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle & with butter seeping through its core… it’s one of those thing’s that you miss when you go away on holiday, much like a proper cup of tea or the patchwork fields & greenery.
Apparently, crumpets may have originated here in sunny Wales (da iawn Cymru!) during Anglo-Saxon times. Breads & cakes were traditionally cooked on a griddle (still used today by many, I own one just incase the need for Welsh Cakes strikes), the most commonly baked bread being ‘bara-planc’ (or griddle bread).
Smaller, oval versions of this bread were called ‘bara pyglyd’ (pitchy bread), which was sometimes shortened to ‘pyglyd’. It is believed that this is where the term ‘pikelets’ originated. Today, pikelets are regional variations of crumpets (mainly in the West Midlands), they’re slightly thinner & are cooked without the use of a ring to hold its rounded shape, much like crumpets would have been made before the introduction of rings & raising agents.
Early crumpets though were a type of hard pancake cooked on the griddle, it wasn’t until the Victorians introduced baking powder & yeast that crumpets evolved. It is when these raising agents are added to the dough that the characteristic holes of the crumpets we know & love today are formed.
It is thought that the term crumpet relates to the Welsh word ‘crempog’, meaning a thin flat cake or pancake. Today it is used mainly to describe pancakes, which are made very similarly to our much loved crumpets using a batter, cooked in a pan or griddle.
No matter what you call your crumpets though, there’s one thing you can’t deny, they are infinitely better when cooked fresh as opposed to bought at the supermarket (trust me!). Once you’ve tasted a freshly cooked crumpet, still warm & soaked in butter, you’ll never be tempted by those shelves again! Don’t be put off or daunted at the process of making crumpets, they do require a little patience but if you can make pancakes, then you can handle these. Practice really does make perfect, start off by cooking one crumpet at a time & you’ll soon get the knack of it (& gain a very smug feeling too).
Breakfast in bed, brunch, lunch, a lazy weekend tea, a midnight snack… it’s a food that, whilst made in a mould, doesn’t fit into the mould. Crumpets break all the rules & simply refuses to be confined to just one meal time. Just like beans on toast, I can eat crumpets whenever my carb loving heart desires (I do keep extra in the freezer, just incase).
These spelt versions are a welcome change from tradition. I wanted to try something a little bit different as I’ve tried many a crumpet in my time. Originally these were going to be a wholemeal version but wholemeal can be quite heavy & weigh down the mixture, ruining that fluffy texture that will soak up my butter. Spelt however is a light grain which introduces a subtle sweet, nutty flavour to baking. The result is a crumpet with a golden, crisp exterior, a slightly chewy but light centre & an added depth of flavour. Eat fresh or toast & top with salted butter or jam (or Nutella if you’re feeling extra).
- 100g strong white flour
- 250g spelt flour
- 14g fast acting yeast
- 350ml milk
- 100-150ml water
- 1 tsp muscovado sugar
- 1tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast
- Gently warm the milk either in the microwave or in a saucepan & add this to the bowl
- Vigorously beat the milk into the flour & yeast then cover with cling film or a dampened tea towel & eave to rise for 1 hour
- In a jug mix the salt, sugar & bicarbonate with 100ml of water
- Add the water mixture to the batter & mix until it is of dropping consistency, adding more water if necessary
- Cover the batter & leave to rest for 20 minutes
- Heat a large saucepan over a medium to high heat & grease with olive oil
- Grease some crumpet rings with olive oil & place them into the saucepan
- Using a ladle, spoon the crumpet batter into the rings, filling them just over halfway (they will rise)
- Cook the crumpets for 6-8 minutes until bubble start for form on the surface
- Carefully flip over the crumpets & cook for a further 1-2 minutes until cooked
- Remove from their rings (run a sharp knife around the inside of them if they get a little stuck) & either eat still warm or leave to cool & toast the next day