I have tried to cut down on my carb intake in the last few years but I will always estole the virtue of anything with yeast or "yeast related" that will give me that soul satisfying aroma, taste and texture. One of my quests has been to find a British crumpet that will not only satisfy my cravings but remind me of my childhood. When sick, or tired, or far from home, I seem to yearn for the gastronomic equivalent of a warm sweater, a kiss on the forehead, or the comfort of a favourite blanket I can wrap myself up in.
One of my favourite childhood breakfast foods was the crumpet, or as my British parents called them pikelets. Although this is not my ultimate comfort food, they are high on the list and do remind me of home and simpler times.
If you are Australian you will know what a pikelet is. The Australians do the pikelet well as I have discovered with my previous successes of Corn Pikelets with Fresh Tomato Salsa and Blueberry Buttermilk Crumpets. Pikelets or crumpets have been a favorite of Aussie, Kiwi and British kids for decades. And who can blame them? What’s not to love!!!! I have fond memories of waking up to find a plate of pikelets waiting for me. They weren’t the homemade kind but they were still delicious with copious amounts of melted butter oozing from every nook and cranny!!! Mom always served them with fried tomatoes with the pikelets as the foile to scoop up every last bit of tomato juice left on the plate. I am licking my lips as we speak!!!
The word pikelet is a British regional dialect word which originally referred to a flatter, free form variety of crumpet. It is of course just a crumpet, in my mind's eye being one and the same. Some people call them pancakes but they are nothing like a pancake really which is light and fluffy ,whereas, a pikelet is... not.
A crumpet/pikelet is often served with jam and whipped cream. I love mine simply spread with butter. A crumpet has all kinds of nooks and crannies. When toasted and buttered, the melted butter oozes into these holes, producing a crispy, buttery honeycomb with a crunchy exterior. I have done some experimenting in recent years and did get a satisfactory result with a recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. Try this version by my friend Peter at Souvlaki for the Soul. Pikelets made his way!! How's about Banana Pikelets, Chestnut Pikelets, Pikelets with Berries and Yogurt or Sweet Potato Pikelets. They will make a great weekend breakfast whatever you choose and they're really simple to make.
The last time I was in Seattle I met up with a number of Seattle area food bloggers including my long time friend Lynn of Cookie Baker Lynn. Jan Marie Johnson of Seattle Bites Food Tours generously took us on one of her informative and innovative foodie tours as we flitted through Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle sampling Nutella and banana crepes, authentic New York pastrami and award-winning clam chowder (just a few "bites" on this culinary adventure). Before I met up with the group I wandered around the market visiting Sur la Table, and the cheese and pastry shops as well as revisiting The Crumpet Shop for several dozen cumpets to take home. Lynn knew I was on a quest for the perfect cumpets/pikelets so kindly sent me her sisters recipe for crumpets from her sisters' blog Be My Guest. You will find her sisters suggestions and recipe for crumpets here. Follow their suggestions and you will have the perfect crumpet for breakfast or afternoon tea. Thanks Lynn!!!!
Adapted from The Bread Book by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake
(makes about 16 crumpets)
3 2/3 cups bread flour
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon instant yeast
2 ¼ cups lukewarm water
1 ½ teaspoon regular salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup lukewarm milk
a griddle or cast-iron frying pan
Crumpet rings, about 3 ½ inches diameter, greased
Sift together the flours and cream of tartar, sugar, yeast and salt into a mixer bowl. Add yeast and salt so they are not touching initially (salt can kill the yeast, and you don’t want that to happen) With the paddle attachment mix all the dry ingredients so they are well blended, about 2 minutes.
Add the lukewarm water to the dry ingredients and mix with paddle attachment for 8 minutes until the batter is smooth.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until the batter rises until doubled which takes about an 1 hour.
Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm 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 a very clean griddle or frying pan over moderately low heat for about 3 minutes until very hot then grease lightly with a vegetable oil.
Put a well-greased crumpet ring on the griddle. 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 holes. If holes do not form, add a little more lukewarm water, a tablespoon at a time, to the batter in the bowl and try again. If the batter is too thin and runs out under the ring, gently work in a little more all-purpose flour and try again. Once the batter is the proper consistency, continue with the remaining batter, cooking the crumpets in batches, three or four at a time. As soon as the top surface is set and covered with holes, 8 to 10 minutes, the crumpet is ready to flip over.
To flip the crumpet, remove the ring with a towel or tongs, then turn the crumpet carefully with a spatula. The top, cooked side should be chestnut brown. Cook the second, holey side of the crumpet for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale golden. The crumpet should be about ¾ inch thick. Remove the crumpet from the griddle and finish in a 350 º oven for about 5 minutes. Grease the crumpet rings well after each use.
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