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The Great British Crumpet & How It's Made

English Breakfast Crumpets

Have you ever wondered what crumpets are and how they are made?

Let’s start by not getting crumpets confused with English muffins, I appreciate that may be a bit tricky for my friends across the pond.

Crumpets are an amazing yeasty pancake. They are normally cooked in a cast iron pan or on a griddle, always on the stove top. The batter is quite loose so they are cooked in rings to contain the crumpet and give them a thickness of about 2cm.

As the crumpet cooks, air bubbles are formed and travel up to the surface. The bubbles create holes that allow the toppings to flow inside the crumpet.

If you want to achieve a nice thick crumpet you will need to use a baking ring. The biggest problem is that the batter is likely to stick to stainless steel rings.

My advice would be to invest in non-stick rings which can be used for many cooking applications.

The ones I use in the video are from Amazon and they have been going strong for the last couple of years. You can have a look at the non-stick rings I use here.

You don't need to use rings, you can cook them directly in the pan. They are called "Pikelets" when cooked like this!

You can cook these without rings. They even have a name… they are called Pikelets. Their origin is a little disputed amongst the British. Some people are adamant they began life in Wales while others firmly believe they were invented in the North of England.

Here is my recipe. I don’t use bicarbonate of soda but you can if you would like to, I've added the amount in brackets below. For a vegan or plant based crumpet, substitute the cow's milk for a plant based milk or water.

British Crumpet Recipe:

The ingredients used to make crumpets

450g All purpose or plain flour (Approximate protein content of 10% works perfectly)
10g Active dried yeast
9g Salt
610g Full fat milk
(1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda if using)

(makes about 12 depending on how much you fill your rings)

How to make crumpets

Gently warm the milk in a pan until it is just warm to the touch. Meanwhile, add all of the dry ingredient to a bowl and whisk together.

Once the milk is warm, whisk it into the dry ingredients to make a loose batter. You can check the consistency by watching the video I have linked below.

Cover and leave the batter to rise at room temperature. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen it normally takes between 1-2 hours.

Pre-heat a cast iron or heavy based non stick pan on a medium low heat. The crumpets need to cook slowly so that the mixture sets all the way to the top but the bottom doesn’t burn.

Add a knob of butter to the pan and then place four baking rings inside the pan. I’d advise using non-stick rings. Fill the rings halfway with the batter and cook. You will see air holes develop and once the top of the crumpet is set you can remove the ring. Flip the crumpet over to finish cooking on the top. You are shooting for a nice golden colour (check the video below).

To cook a pikelet (without rings): Use the same recipe as below. Pop a knob of butter into a pan that’s been heated on a medium heat and let the mixture flow. Imagine you are cooking a pancake and you won’t go far wrong.

Once I've cooked the crumpets I let them cool completely. Before eating I pop them in the toaster to get the crispy surface.

Crumpets keep really well in the fridge for several days. They can also be frozen, make sure to defrost before reheating. To heat the crumpet, pop it in the toaster so that they warm though and go crispy on the top and bottom. 

Watch the full YouTube video tutorial here


What are crumpets called in America?

Most of my American audience call crumpets… English muffins. It’s worth getting to know which is  which as they are both very different.

What’s the different between a crumpet and an English muffin?

A crumpet is a yeasty pancake that’s cooked on a griddle or in a non stick pan. The mixture is loose so they are cooked inside a ring. When cooked they have an almost “rubbery” texture. But don’t let that out you off…

Crumpets have an open texture which is caused by air bubbles travelling up through the batter as they cook. It’s these holes that trap the butter and jam and transport the toppings down into the depth of the crumpet.

An English muffin is also cooked on the stove top in a cast iron pan or griddle. They are made of a firmer bread dough which enables them to be handled while being cooked. Before cooking they are normally coated on the top and bottom with semolina flour.

Once cooked they have an amazing crispy texture on the top and bottom with a softer skirt running round the outside. The inside is pillowy soft. Traditionally they are opened by splitting them apart with two dinner forks, as opposed to cutting them open. This gives them a great texture when toasted.

They can be filled and eaten like a bread roll or sandwich, or toasted and topped with tomato and cheese which is melted under the grill.

They are probably most famously known as the bread component of eggs Benedict.

You can see my video on how to make English muffins by clicking here.

Can I make sourdough crumpets?

If you have a sourdough starter then you make a sourdough version and they are amazing. You need to cook them a little slower than a crumpet made with commercial yeast. I explain how to do it in the video below. 

You can see my video on how to make sourdough crumpets by clicking here.

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