♔This essentially English comfort food has been around for at least a few hundred years. Over that time, the crumpet has gathered to itself a whole spectrum of meanings and associations in British culture: coziness, warmth, home and hearthside, the tea-table loaded down with nice things… because where crumpets are, tea is usually not far behind.
Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now ~Daphne Du Maurier
And now there’s the Chocolate Crumpet, invented and made by Knead Bakers, London. This pinnacle of indulgence is 70 per cent chocolate, and when heated the crumpet texture turns slightly gooey in the centre, not unlike, a light chocolate brownie.
Although Knead Bakers have been making chocolate crumpets for the best part of a year, it was only when BBC Good Food spotted them in Selfridge’s Food Hall and mentioned them on their website, that these scrumptious crumpets cropped up on the mainstream radar.
BBC Good Food says the crumpets have a ‘rich and deep flavour. You can toast them and eat them straight, or follow Knead’s Bakers Instagram advice, and stick a lump of maple butter on top to melt through the holes… Delicious!
The Crumpet is an Anglo-Saxon invention. An early reference to them comes from English Bible translator John Wycliffe in 1382, when he mentions crompid cake, or curled cake. There is also a 17th century reference to buckwheat griddle cakes called ‘crumpits‘. The Welsh still have a pancake called a ‘crempog‘ and the Bretons have the ‘krampoch‘, a buckwheat pancake.
The early crumpets were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era, which were made with yeast.
The Oxford Companion to Food states that the earliest published recipe for crumpets was by Elizabeth Raffald, in 1769. She mentions them in her book of ‘The Experienced English Housekeeper.’ Her recipe is very similar to the modern crumpet recipe, especially in the baking, buttering, and serving:
To make tea crumpets Beat two eggs very well, put them to a quart of warm milk and water, and a large spoonful of barm: beat in as much fine flour as will make them rather thicker than a common batter pudding, then make your bakestone very hot, and rub it with a little butter wrapped in a clean linen cloth, then pour a large spoonful of batter upon your stone, and let it run to the size of a tea-saucer; turn it, and when you want to use them roast them very crisp, and butter them.
Toasted on one side under the grill or in the toaster, slathered with butter or (chocolate), that seeps into all those lovely little holes… one thing is for sure the crumpet is something special… truly an English tradition.
Here’s to another Two Hundred Years of the Crumpet!
For a step by step recipe with photos on how to make your own traditional Home-Made Crumpets, go to Delicious Magazine or for a strawberry version watch this Video by Gordon Ramsay.