Just What Is a Crumpet?
Americans know crumpets as a British teatime treat, but what exactly are they? Here's the answer—and a recipe.
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Traveling, whether it’s out of the country or just to the next state, is a great way to discover new and interesting foods. On my first trip to London I was eager to try all the quintessential British foods—Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips and steamed pudding. But the one I most wanted to find? Crumpets.
What are crumpets?
Most Americans have heard of tea and crumpets, but ask what a crumpet actually is and you’ve lost almost all of them. It’s unlike anything we have in the U.S., so we can’t really compare it to something familiar. The closest comparison I can make is an English muffin. They’re close in size and shape, but the similarities end there.
The top of a crumpet is full of holes, like what you want to see when cooking pancakes just prior to flipping them. Their hidden secret quickly becomes apparent the instant you slather a hot crumpet with butter and/or jam. When they melt, they have nowhere to go but sink deep into all those lovely holes.
While a crumpet’s outside is crisp, especially after toasting, the inside is the complete opposite. Moist, chewy and just a little bit short of being gummy, it’s so unlike an English muffin you’ll immediately see why you really can’t compare the two.
Butter is probably the most common topping, but I always reach for orange marmalade. Other great toppings include any kind of nut butter, cream cheese or, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, try it topped with a little Marmite for a truly unique British flavor. Trust me, your first bite of a hot, buttered crumpet is something you’ll remember for quite a long time.
How to Make Crumpets
Since a trip to the U.K. just for a crumpet seems a little extravagant, you can make them at home. Here’s my recipe, which serves 10.
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup warm whole milk (110° to 115°F)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Step 1: Make the batter
In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in honey; let stand until bubbles form on surface, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, 2 tablespoon butter and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Step 2: Prep the griddle
Brush griddle and 3-1/2 in. metal rings or open-topped metal cookie cutters with remaining melted butter. Place rings on griddle; heat over low heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into each ring.
Step 3: Cook the crumpets
Cook until bubbles begin to pop and the top appears dry, about 8 minutes. Remove rings. Turn crumpets; cook until the second side is golden brown and crumpet is cooked through, 6-8 minutes longer. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack and toast before serving.
They don’t take a lot of time to make, but on weekday mornings who has an hour to let dough rise? Luckily, these crumpets freeze beautifully. Just pop a couple in an airtight container and store in your freezer for up to 6 months. Then, when you want a quick treat, just pull them out to warm in the toaster.