Crumpets should be made on a cloudy day. On a morning when you don’t have anywhere to be, and you don’t much feel like being anywhere, anyhow. They should be made when you are feeling sulky and broody and just need to wallow in your own pot of misery for a while. Because sometimes we do (need to wallow). And there is no use trying to be cheery when the time comes.
You make the batter, and then you have a good thirty minutes to an hour to sit with your elbows resting on the kitchen table, your chin in your hands. You can stare at the swirls in the wood or the place where you accidentally set that hot pan once upon a time, or the dent in the pine floorboards from the glass that you threw and shattered on a day that was not your best. If it’s raining, or blustery – this is even better. You can sigh loudly, and take inventory of all your personal grudges, emotional baggage and unhealed wounds – like Ebenzer Scrooge clinking and counting his gold. Yes, still all there.
Once you’ve accounted for everything, it will be time to make the crumpets. You should not just drop but fling or better still hurl a hunk of butter into the pan. It helps if you picture the face of someone you particularly dislike as you do it. Then you pour the batter into the pan into three little pancakes, and now you have from three to five minutes to dwell and sulk on whatever takes your fancy. You might choose to stare out at the greyness of the day, or focus on the little bubbles forming on the surface of the batter while you throw mental darts at all the people who’ve ever insulted you. Depending on how many darts you have to throw, and how quickly you can throw them, this will probably take up your first time allotment. Possibly your second.
Bing! Three minutes are up. Time to flip over the crumpets.
And now you have about one minute and forty eight seconds to think about the unfairness of life. How really, the rules haven’t changed all that much, since you were twelve. That no matter how hard you work, how optimistic you are, how much you strive to be kind and an overall good person, it still seems to be the people with the pretty faces and the right friends who have all the luck. And just as the realization of how you have turned into one of those horribly bitter and spiteful people is on the verge of materializing –
Bing! Times up.
And now you start again. Pour in three more circles of batter and now you have another three minutes to brood and scowl and curse that boy in high school who went from being nearly your boyfriend to blatantly ignoring your existence in less than twenty four hours. Two and a half minutes to secretly hate that friend of yours who succeeds in every place that you fail but whom you really can’t hate because there is nothing to hate which makes you hate her more. Secretly. Or the time that certain boy found the note intended for your best friend in your backpack in 9th grade and read it out loud to the entire cafeteria so that two hundred and fifty nine people knew you were madly in love with a boy called “shaggy” and that you had once padded your bra with puffs plus tissues.
Bing! Three minutes are up. Time to flip the crumpets.
And what you might find, is that by the end, you’ve somehow manifested an entire pile of golden steaming crumpets out of your horrible melodrama of self pity. And that somehow, with that lovely stack of tender yeasty disks of goodness awaiting you, all your brooding and sulking can be left behind with the charred crumpet crumbs and browned butter solids still sizzling in the hot pan behind you. And most importantly, now you can take all that grief and strife and split it in half and toast it and spread it with butter and jam and life really isn’t as bad as you thought. Productive wallowing – that’s what we shall call it.
Because life is not that simple, but also because it is. And everything is far more manageable with a mouthful of crumpet.
These are wild, free form crumpets. Jazzy crumpets - which if I am being technical here, would be called "pikelets". If you want to be classical and make a true crumpet, get some crumpet rings or use the rings you screw around mason jar tops. Butter them well and set them in your pan to use as containers to pour your batter into. Whether pikelets or crumpets, eat them toasted with butter, jam and a pot of tea. Tea and crumpets, can't go wrong.
- 1 1/3 cup milk (275 ml)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dried active yeast
- 1 cup unbleached white flour (150 g)
- ½ cup whole wheat flour (75 g)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the milk and water in a small saucepan and heat until blood temperature (about 100 degrees F). Add in the honey and yeast, stir to dissolve, and then let sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and full of life.
- Mix your flours in a large bowl along with the salt. When the milk mixture is ready, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the liquid in. Whisk everything together until you have a nice, smooth batter. Cover with a damp tea towel and let sit in a warm place for forty five minutes to an hour, or until the batter has substantially increased in size and become light and frothy.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium flame. Melt a small pad of butter to coat the surface and then use an 1/8 cup measure to doll out three piles of crumpet batter - just as you would pancakes. After about 3-5 minutes, holes should be forming in the tops and the edges should look set. Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. You want both sides to get a nice golden brown sheen.
- Cool completed crumpets on a wire wrack and continue cooking the batter till you've finished it, remembering to grease the pan between batches.
- To eat your crumpets, you can either toast them whole or split them in half. I like to toast them whole, which means they are crisp on the outside, but still a little soft and doughy in the middle. Try it both ways and see what you prefer. Serve with butter and jam. And tea of course!