Like many Americans, I always assumed that crumpets were close relatives of English muffins (an assumption that apparently infuriates the British!). When I tasted my first crumpet at the Crumpet Shop in Seattle, I was blown away. It was a little bit spongy and had beautiful holes on top, perfect for absorbing farm-fresh butter and local honey.
They were so delicious that it’s a shame there’s not a Crumpet Shop on every corner. But there’s a reason why most bakeries shy away from making crumpets. They’re best when made to order. If they sit around for even a couple of hours, to me they won’t have the same just-griddled goodness.
At that moment, I knew I wanted to develop a yeasted crumpet recipe of my own. It thought it would be so much fun to stand around the kitchen with friends and family on a rainy day and serve them hot from the griddle, with cups of steaming tea. The result more than lived up to my fantasy. Try them. If you are like me, you will always remember where you had your first crumpet!
Place the all-purpose flour, bread flour, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir to combine.
Whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar in a medium bowl and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and mix on low speed to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 to 1-1⁄2 hours.
Dissolve the baking soda in the milk, and then pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the batter. Stir gently to combine. The batter should now be the consistency of pancake batter. If it’s too stiff, your crumpets won’t have enough of those characteristic bubbles and holes, so, if necessary, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Grease several 4-inch cake rings with butter.
Place the cake rings in the skillet and pour some batter into each ring so they’re three-quarters full. Cook until holes begin to form on the surface, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the rings, flip the crumpets, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until nicely toasted. Serve immediately with butter. For longer storage, freeze in a zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 1 month. To defrost, place on the countertop for 15 to 30 minutes, and reheat in the oven at 350°F for 5 minutes before serving.
Photo: Ditte Isager