“Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now”, ~Daphne Du Maurier
Crumpets are essentially the English comfort food. They has been around for at least a few hundred years, and over that time they have gathered a whole spectrum of meanings and associations in British culture- cosiness, warmth, home and hearthside- the vision of a tea-table covered with lots of nice things… because wherever crumpets are, tea is usually not far behind.
The Crumpet is an Anglo-Saxon invention. 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.
An initial reference to them comes from the 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 a buckwheat pancake called the ‘krampoch‘.
The Oxford Companion to Food states that the earliest published recipe for crumpets was by Elizabeth Raffald, in 1769 in her book, ‘The Experienced English Housekeeper.’ Her recipe is very similar to a modern-day 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.
Today there’s even Chocolate Crumpets, 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-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!
One thing is for sure the Crumpet is something special… Here’s to another Two Hundred Years of the Crumpet!
For a step by step crumpet recipe with photos go to Delicious Magazine, or for a Summer Strawberry version Watch this Video by Gordon Ramsay.