Adventures in Making Crumpets

My dear sweet son, Andrew, had this craving for crumpets. Of course we did not have any. I told him we could try to make them. They are not exactly cheap to buy for everyone to eat on a whim. For a splurge for one person, it is not a big deal. For a splurge for five people it is a much more expensive proposition.

This introduced an interesting challenge because I did not have a recipe in my usual cookbooks. I did not even have a recipe in my brand new (to me) British Foods cookbook gifted to me by my mother-in-law, Georgann Saunders, during her last trip down here. I was going to have to find a recipe that would work for this little adventure of crumpet making. I was willing to try and make them. I have already done sausage rolls, welsh cakes, and Jammie Dodgers. Surely crumpets cannot be that hard, right?

Then I started doing the research…

That started to change my mind. I, of course, am up to the challenge if Andrew is willing to try it. He really does need to learn to do more in the kitchen, but I was not going to thrust him into the deep end if it was too much to handle for even me. I kept looking and reading up on the various recipes and techniques.

I finally found a recipe that had various tips and whatnot to follow. I was set. There was only one problem, I did not have any crumpet rings. I did some further research to find out that pancake rings would work. There was only one other problem, I did not have any pancake rings. I did have some pancake rings at one point, recently. I had recently given them away in the donation to NAM (Northwest Assistance Ministries) because I never used them and to be honest with you I hated using them because I thought they were a total pain to use. I did not need them and honestly I did not want them anymore so I got rid of them. I did a little bit more research and discovered that it could be done without the rings, they would just not be perfectly round. I will be honest with you, I do not care that they are not perfectly round. Aesthetics aside, as long as they cook up fine, they do not have to look perfect for consumption. With all of that out of the way, I was ready to take on the challenge of making crumpets.

Here is the dough. It was interesting in a different kind of way to say the very least. This is after I cut down the rising time by about half. I doubled the recipe. I just left it in the mixer bowl because I would have to mix in the bicarbonate soda mixture and I figured I might as well leave it where it would be easy enough to do that instead of transferring it back and forth. Needless to say, I am glad that I went and checked on it before the time was up. I did not even cover it like it recommended. 
This is what it looked like after I poured the bicarbonate soda mixture in on top of it. As you can see, some of the bubbles quickly popped and it started to fall in on itself. This is about the reaction I expected. I will be honest with you, I did not expect the light frothy dough I was seeing when I returned to the mixer. 
This is what it looked like after I mixed in the bicarbonate soda. This was a double recipe. I was beginning to have my doubts at this point. Either I was going to have to do this again or we were going to have to come up with a secondary plan for dinner. Either way, this was not going to make very much. 
Of course, one should remember that patience is required in cooking from time to time. Fortunately, I did not have to wait too long to see the results. Again, I did not have to get it the full time to rise again as it would have gone right over the top of the bowl. Note to self, double batch requires a much larger bowl if you allow it to rise the full allotted time. At least I could see the reaction taking place and I knew that there was something clearly going on. 
There were several discussions online about the best way to cook the crumpets. The general consensus that I kept coming back to is that they are best when cooked on a skillet or griddle using a considerable amount of butter. I do not own a true cast-iron skillet and honestly after all the issues that I have had with pork I probably will never own one. However, I love my large double burner All-Clad griddle and it does a pretty decent job of getting the job done when I need it too. Besides, I am making crumpets in mass quantities, there is no way I would do them on anything less than a double burner griddle. Sorry, it just wouldn’t happen one crumpet at a time.

Do not ask me how much butter I used, I honestly do not know. It was a lot of butter. It was a partially melted stick of butter that was still stuck in the butter dish. It was a perfectly good stick of butter if you did not need to have it nicely shaped for presentation purposes or to measure out a pat. Those problems aside there was nothing wrong with it. It set back up just fine once I put the lid on the butter dish and stuck it in the fridge. It just did not look as good as it once did.

Alas I digress. There was a lot of butter and it had to cover the pan. I will be honest with you, I was really reconsidering the fact that butter was the best option after a little while. I normally coat this pan real good with olive oil and things are fine. Olive oil might have been more effective on this pan. I might try a round of it next time. It certainly would not hurt anything.

Everything I read said that if you did not use the crumpet rings, the batter/dough would run and they would not be perfectly round. From the looks of it in the pictures here, that is exactly the results I had. So far it was not inconsistent from what I researched. I was doing just fine, right? I even had the little bubbles forming.
It said that there would be large bubbles form and pop and the surface would appear dry. Well I was certainly getting the large bubbles and they were popping. I was not, however, getting the dry surface appearance. This one was on the back burner.
The problem was the front burner which technically is the the larger burner, it was not forming the large bubbles, nor were they popping. Things were not going as well as they should have been evidently. I adjusted the temperature on the front as clearly they were not heating evenly.
Upon looking back at the other burner, however, things were going much better as the surface looked much dryer and it appeared that all the bubbles that were going to popped had already done what they were going to do. I was impressed. I thought this would be much harder than it was.
This is, of course, an example of what not to do with a crumpet when you flip it. Notice the edge that is fold over? Yes, you flip them just like pancakes and evidently they take as much care when flipping too. I think I flipped this one too early as the color is a bit too light and it should not have been able to fold over so easily.
So this is what the finished product looked like! I was so excited, I managed to successfully make a crumpet that actually looked like a crumpet. Granted it was a bit thinner than your run of the mill grocery store British imported crumpets but that was expected because I did not have the crumpet rings to confine the batter/dough and it did run. It was a success in that it did cook up like it was supposed to per this picture right here.
The true test, however, still remained…
The first victim – Andrew. He was the instigator of this adventure so he got to go first. It is only fair that he eat the first one off the pan. 
He was a little worried that I told him that he had to eat it like it was – “No, you cannot let it cool down first.” I was totally kidding of course, but he was not taking the first bite fast enough. I wanted to know how it tasted. Hurry up already!
His verdict? It was a little crunchy. It was too thin. Then the texture was a little off. What? Really? The flavor was fine. At least I got something right.
So it was back to the griddle to cook some more. This time I turned up the heat a tad to get them to cook a tad faster and get them to puff up a bit more. This seemed to help. They did bubble up faster and the bubbles were larger and they popped like they were supposed to. They even puffed up more. The problem was that they texture was off more. They cooked too fast. This made them more of a pancake like texture instead of the drier texture that Andrew was expecting.
The good news is that turning up the heat allowed for a nicer color. My problem with it was that I felt like I was just cooking over rated pancakes. That is how they cooked. It was essentially just like cooking pancakes.
The second victim – Kyle. He was more than happy to try them out. He wanted honey on his. 
He liked them, I promise. His face may not show it, but that is just the face he made when he was posing and telling me to “hurry up and take the picture, mom.” I promise he liked them.
The third victim – Lance. Notice he came around to find a plate that had been partially devoured already. Yes, he almost missed out. 
He was not so sure what to think at first, but again he was happy to pose for the picture and act like he was eating one. I had to have proof that each one of them tried one. He did like them he just did not show that enthusiasm. 
All in all the recipe was a keeper for flavor. The recipe did what it was supposed to do. We will try again once I buy some crumpet/pancake rings again and try it using that method and make sure it is not just the methodology. If the rings make a difference, then we know. Maybe it just takes practice? Who knows. The good news is that I know I can make them.
The crazy idea I had after making these? Why not try making English Muffins? Yes, real English Muffins. I have made English Muffin Bread before and it is not hard, just time consuming.

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