English Crumpets Revisited

When we decide to eat breakfast informally and not in the zendo, there is a happy chance for the tenzo to make crumpets. Fresh crumpets are just adorable and so much more tasty than shop-bought ones. (If you are wondering what crumpets are, they’re rather like a cross between a bread roll and a pancake.) Mine usually come out plumper than the traditional ones, with some of the holes hidden inside the crumpets, but no matter. They taste just as good.

For those who received the very first edition of the Zen River Cookbook last year, you may want to print this off. We were so excited to get the first copies out that a couple of peculiar typos passed me by.  Here are English Crumpets as they should be made!

English Crumpets

315 g (2 cups) white flour
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
400 ml (1¾ cups) lukewarm water 37 °C (98 °F)
4 tablespoons butter for greasing the rings (oil doesn’t work as well)

  • Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
    Place the warm water in a large mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients. Whisk well to release the gluten.
  • Let it rest for 30 minutes in a warm place until bubbles appear on the surface. The consistency should be liquid enough to allow the mixture to easily drop off a spoon, like a thick pancake batter – add a little more water or flour if needed.
    Preheat two skillets on low–medium flame, one with a lid and one without.
    Melt the butter in a small pan.
  • Using a pastry brush, grease the lower inner walls of 3–4 muffin or crumpet rings, about 8 cm (3”) wide, with the melted butter. (You can also use unlined tin cans with tops, bottoms, and sharp edges removed.)
  • Place the greased rings in the first frying pan and spoon approximately 50 ml (¼ cup) of batter into each ring. Check to see if the batter spreads evenly. If not, quickly use a skewer to even out the surfaces.
  • Let them cook until bubbles appear and the tops of the crumpets begin to set and lose their shine, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Check and adjust the heat so that when the batter sets on the top, the bottoms of the crumpets are a dark golden brown.
  • Lift the rings off and place the crumpets in the second frying pan. Cover with a lid and steam for 1–2 minutes until completely set. Turn onto a cooling rack.
  • While the crumpets are steaming, continue to repeat the steps for the remaining batter until they are all cooked.
  • Optional step – flip and cover for 1 more minute to brown the tops. Remove and cool on a rack.
  • Serve with butter and marmalade.

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