If you fancy a bit of pottering around in the kitchen this weekend then making some crumpets could be the very thing for you! I’m on a total crumpet kick at the moment; I’m having them for breakfast every morning (breakfast at my desk has been replaced by breakfast in my car) and feel like I could never get tired of eating them. So a few weeks ago I figured I’d have a go at making them, since everything home-made generally tends to taste better than shop-bought. I have always wanted to know how they get their bubbly tops and stringy, spongy centre.
I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe which was SO easy. It took just a few minutes to whip up the batter; the limiting factor on making these is the time the batter takes to rest and the time the crumpets take to cook. It’s best to make them on a day when you’ve not got much else on, and can just keep checking on the batter/cooking crumpets as and when you need to (I wouldn’t advise making them on a Sunday morning when you’re supposed to be going out like I did!). One thing I will say about the recipe is that it says to add 10 grams of salt, and once I’d measured this out I realised that this is a LOT of salt. Even though the recipe makes a lot of batter, I still didn’t think that 10 grams was necessary, and as a result I put in probably about 6 or 7 grams. Still though, my husband complained that they were too salty, although I did make salted butter so maybe it was just all too much. Next time I’d put in even less salt though; there’s nothing worse than eating something that’s too salty.
Cooking the crumpets was, er, interesting. Not that it was hard, but it took a bit of trial and error to get the correct thickness. Unfortunately I had one of those moments where you just blindly follow the recipe rather than using your own common sense, so I added enough batter to come ‘almost to the top of the crumpet ring’, although my crumpet rings are particularly tall. So I ended up with a crumpet about an inch thick that took about 20 minutes to cook, and even then was still a bit gooey in the middle. I obviously made the subsequent crumpets a lot thinner. Next time, I will be more prepared for the time they take to cook, they’re totally worth it. They were really delicious!
I’m convinced this whole enterprise was doomed from the start, as when I bought the egg rings I took them to the till at the supermarket with a 15-rated DVD and got ID’d. What 14-year-old buys egg rings?! Seriously. I am obviously retaining my youthful good looks, being mistaken for a 14-year-old at the ripe old age of 26.
As for making the butter, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since one of my work colleagues bought a book on making “traditional” things like cheese, butter, bread etc. In this book, the method seemed slightly laborious, but luckily I was watching an episode of Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals and he made butter in the processor and it took no time at all. Obviously then I had to give it a go. Even if you don’t have a processor you could do it, essentially you just need to over-whisk double cream until the curd separates from the whey. You could do this by hand (Hulk arms are a MUST though) or with a marble in a jam jar, or any other weird and wonderful way you can think of to whip cream. Then it’s just a case of squeezing out all the fluid (I do this via a combination of a sieve and lots of kitchen towel, although since I made these I managed to score some butter pats from a car boot sale), putting any flavourings into it that you want, and then eating it! I couldn’t believe how easy it was and it’s really delicious too. A really easy way to impress friends or family that you’ve had to stay at breakfast!
The recipe says it makes 12 but once my batter was rested I could have easily got a lot more than that out of it!
450g plain white flour
350ml warm milk
350ml warm water (approximately)
5g powdered dried yeast
1 tsp baking powder
A little sunflower or vegetable oil
Tub of double cream (it really doesn’t matter what size, it all depends how much butter you want to make! I think I used a 284ml tub which makes a generous amount)
Pinch sea salt
In a large bowl whisk the flour, milk, water and yeast into a runny batter the consistency of single cream. Cover with cling-film and leave for an hour until really bubbly (or three to four hours, if need be).
To make the butter, use whatever method you want to whip the cream. Keep whipping it until it goes really stiff, then it will get lumpier and lumpier, and eventually you’ll see the fluid come out and will hear a sloshing sound. This means it’s done!
Now tip everything into a sieve and squeeze the butter to get rid of the worst of the fluid. Next, I spread the butter out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper into a thin layer and dab all over with kitchen towel until the liquid has all gone.
Once you’ve done this, scatter the salt over the surface, and fold the greaseproof in half, smooshing the butter together. Peel back the greaseproof and fold the butter in half again using the paper, so that it’s a quarter of the original size. Do this several more times; flattening it out and folding it up so that the salt is evenly distributed. Using the paper to squash it together stops the heat from your hands melting it. Once it’s done, cut a circle from greaseproof paper, dollop the butter into the middle of it and squash up the sides, making a little patty encased in the paper.
Obviously you could just leave the butter plain, or put in herbs/garlic/chilli etc and use it on steaks or over vegetables. Yum! If you want to use it for these things you can freeze it; just form it into a sausage in some greaseproof paper, wrap it and put it in the freezer. Then you can cut disks off as and when you need it.
Once the crumpet batter is rested, heat a frying pan or griddle over a medium heat. Whilst the pan is heating, whisk the salt and baking powder into the batter. Lightly grease some crumpet/egg rings and the pan, and then make a test crumpet. Pour some batter into the ring, about 1 1/2 cm thick. If the mixture runs out the bottom of the ring, you’ll need to add more flour to the batter to thicken it. Otherwise, as the crumpet cooks small holes will appear on the surface. Once the surface is set and the crumpet looks like it’s cooked through (this will take around 8 minutes or so), flip it over and cook for a further few minutes until golden. Once you know your batter is ok you can cook several at once.
They’re best eaten straight from the pan, with the homemade butter and jam, nutella, cheese… anything!