Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tea and Crumpets

I have to admit - I don't think there is a better place in the world than my kitchen at tea time.  The kettle boils merrily on the cookstove, sweet aromas fill the air.  Children bustle about, excitedly telling their father about the adventures of the day.  Sir Knight kicks back in his rocking chair, presiding over the whole affair like a king holding court in his throne room.  As humble as our little kitchen is, the potentates of the world don't reside in such splendor.  No matter what the day holds, our kitchen always calls to us, encouraging us to rest in its warm embrace.

In the winter, when the stove is bubbling along, I like to make crumpets to accompany our afternoon tea.  Crumpets are quite unlike English muffins, in that they are soft, almost chewy.  They have a pungent, yeasty flavor that is only enhanced by butter and jam.  They are divine warm, just off the griddle, but are equally wonderful toasted or warmed in the oven.  It is worth making a double batch, as they freeze well (however, ours never stick around long enough to freeze).

Although there are a few more step in making crumpets than there are in typical yeast breads, they are  not difficult.  Crumpets are not split, like English  muffins, rather they are buttered on the top (there are lots of little holes, allowing the butter to soak into the middle).  In France, they call them "Les Eponges" or "Little Sponges" because of the way they absorb copious amounts of rich butter.
3 C flour
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 T yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 C water (lukewarm)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C milk (lukewarm)

Sift together the flour and cream of tartar in a large bowl.  Mix yeast, sugar and lukewarm (110°) water in a smaller bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

Mix the yeast mixture into the flour to make a very thick, but smooth batter, beating with a spoon for 2 minutes.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until the batter is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Add the salt and beat the batter for about 1  minute.  Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm spot  until the batter increases in volume by about one-half, 15 to 20 minutes.

Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm (110°) milk.  Then gently stir it into the batter.  The batter should not be too stiff or your crumpets will be "blind" - without holes - so it is best to test one before cooking the whole batch.

Heat an ungreased, very clean griddle or frying pan over moderately low heat for about 3 minutes until moderately hot; your palm will feel warm when held 1 1/2 inches above the griddle for about 30 seconds.  Put a well-buttered crumpet ring on the griddle and heat for 15 seconds.   Spoon or pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the ring.  The amount of batter will depend on the size of your crumpet ring.

As soon as the batter is poured into the ring, it should begin to form bubbles.  If bubbles do not form, add a little more lukewarm water (from the tap is fine), a tablespoon at a time, to the batter in the bowl and try again.  If the batter it too thin and runs out under the ring, gently work in a little more flour and try again.  As soon as the top surface is set and covered with bubbles, 7 to 8 minutes, the crumpet is ready to flip over.  Cook the second, holey side of the crumpet for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale golden.

Butter the crumpet rings well after each use.

Water, sugar and yeast "sponging"
Pouring the yeast mixture into the flour mixture
Beating the batter
Covered with plastic wrap
Doubled in size
Stirring the baking soda into the milk
Mixing the soda/milk mixture into the batter
A buttered crumpet ring on an ungreased griddle
Full crumpet rings
See all the holes forming?
I use tongs to remove the rings before I flip the crumpets
Crumpets, fresh from the griddle
All dressed up for tea time


  1. I do love the time around the table, and agree that no place in the world is as wonderful as being around my table with my family. I have never made crumpets but how easy they are. I am so glad that you shared how to make them.


  2. I love your description of the kitchen! Great literary term is 'personification' when you say,"our kitchen always calls to us, encouraging us to rest in its warm embrace." Beautiful! Where did you get the red, lovely teapot warmer? I would love to know! Do you make them or sell them?
    --K in OK <><

  3. Mmmmm
    Reading this post makes me l-o-n-g for a return trip to London. I need to see the daughter and grandchildren and once again taste London's incredible offerings at tea time.
    I'm doing that Pavlov thing...
    I honor your dedication to a daily tea time with your family.

  4. Yum...these look great! I'm always looking for a bread substitute for my kid's lunches- just to snap-up their day. Do you think crumpets could hold up as sandwich bread?


  5. So that's what a crumpet is.. sounds a lot better than Dr. Pepper and corn dogs...

  6. Can you suggest a crumpet ring.. What size are those??

    Thank you!

  7. Dear Enola.have been reading your blog for a few months now and really quite enjoy all you gave to say...had to comment to this post though because crumpets are one of my favourite things...I especially love them with a soft yolked fried egg inverted onto one tests been lavishly buttered...the yolked oozes through the little holes and its just yummy....probably really bad for you too but its not like i have it everyday day...but with your crumpet recipe...oh dear...there goes my cholesterol.
    OxoxMeg (from downunder in NSW Australia)

  8. Cathy;
    My rings are roughly 3 1/2", but really, you could use anything that you have. If the can is made correctly, you could take both side out of of a tuna can - they are just about the right size. I picked my rings up at a kitchen store. Mine are specifically for crumpets. Hope that helps.

    Ummm, that sounds good! You'll have to let me know how they turn out!

    Yes, I think they would hold up very well. You would just have to try them and see if they like the flavor.

    Oh how you must miss your London people! And to have tea with your granddaughter again would be a wonderful treat! You could set up a time, get matching cups and have a cup of tea with your daughter and granddaughter, even if you are not together. It would be like watching the stars together from different locations.


  9. Any info on the teapot warmer?
    --K in OK<><

  10. Yum yum!

    Because I love baking I often wonder how we'd get on if we couldn't pick up things from the store anymore. It got me searching for how to make cream of tartar...
    It's formed from the sediment in wine barrels. It will crystalize in the barrel, you scrape it out then crush it to a powder.
    Unfortunately the baking soda is a little more difficult, the bicarb soda in it is formed in a complicated sounding chemistry process, bit beyond me :(