Still in need of Comfort Food as we enter a slightly less confined Shelter in Place?
The humble crumpet is thought to have originated in Wales and was traditionally cooked on a griddle when bread ovens weren’t available. In early years, crumpets were firm pancakes, but the addition of yeast in the Victoria era saw them develop into soft, springy crumpets. From the 19th century, the addition of bicarbonate of soda created the crumpet we know and savor today. Yeast is responsible for the delightful little craters that are perfect for soaking up warm butter.
The earliest reference to crumpets dates from 1382, when John Wycliffe, the theologian and Yorkshireman, translated a word in the Latin Old Testament as “Crompid cake”:”a cake of a loaf, a crusted cake spreynde with oyle, a crompid cake”. The cake bears little resemblance to today’s crumpets – except in that it was cooked on a hot stone. The crumpet is the royal queen of the toasted snack – adaptable, soothing and utterly delicious. British folk have a global reputation for their affection of crumpets, a notion that has travelled to the far corners of the world.
The Royal crumpet is the perfect base for a wide variety of flavor combinations. Ranging from naturally simple to festive gourmet, there’s no wrong way to enjoy your crumpet. While they’re traditionally known for being a British go-to afternoon tea-time snack accompanied with a cuppa tea, crumpets are an adaptable tuck. Add gooey soft cheese for a savory snack, or an egg for brekkie, or smother with chocolate spread for dessert. Many opt for the simple yet classic: soft butter, butter and even more butter. Popular sugary toppings included fresh fruit jam, clotted cream, golden syrup, honey, or my favorite lemon curd.
This recipe is from chef Ben Boeynaems at the Beaumont Hotel Colony Grill, my favorite brekkie location!
1 1/2 c. bread flour
1 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh yeast or 2 tbsp. dried yeast
1 tsp. baking soda
14 oz. room temperature water
1 tsp. salt
- Mix everything in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Cover and leave to prove until batter doubles in size and bubbles over the surface.
- Put English muffin rings into a non-stick pan on a low heat and fill each ring three-quarters with batter and cook until the top has formed a skin.
- Remove the ring.
- Flip the crumpet and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Slather with creamy butter or fresh raspberry jam.
Crumpets were not bound by class restrictions: Unkempt urchins peddled crumpets on the streets of growing cities, providing warm and delicious snacks for the masses. At the same time, ladies and gentlemen in brick towers would delight on crumpets whilst, writing droll poetry and painting garden landscapes.