Crumpets are a great deal. For one thing, if you’re feeding a sourdough starter, but not baking all the time, something must be done with the excess starter. Many recipes advise throwing out portions of the starter, but that’s just plain ridiculous, because there are so many delicious things to be done with it. Pancakes, crackers, noodles…and crumpets!
A crumpet is a deceptively simple thing, containing only 4 ingredients: starter, salt, baking soda and butter. The acidic sourdough starter and the alkaline baking soda react to form a foamy, light batter, almost meringue-like in texture. This reaction happens quickly, so be ready to use the dough soon after mixing it up. Crumpets cook quickly, another point in their favor.
Aside from the sheer practicality, crumpets have class. Many people have a kind of hazy idea of what a crumpet actually is, but all agree: crumpets are fancy. Crumpets go with high tea and royalty…but what are they exactly?
“Crumpets,” writes Jennifer Mc Gruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen, “are yeasty little griddle cakes that, when split open, reveal plenty of nooks and crannies in their crumb, perfect for collecting jam and melted butter.” That sums it up nicely, but we’d like to add that they are tender and airy, and utterly impressive, either arrayed on the plate or melting in the mouth. We’ve used her recipe from that excellent book here, but reduced the amount of salt.
The only special equipment you’ll need is an egg ring, which keeps the foamy dough together long enough to cook through. Without it, you’ll have something more like a pancake; also delicious, but lacking the thick, airy nature of a well-bred crumpet.
Butter 2 egg rings and set them aside.
Pour the sourdough starter into a mixing bowl, and beat in the salt and baking soda.
Melt a generous slice of butter in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Set the rings in the pan and spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into each ring, filling it nearly to the top.
Allow the batter to cook until bubbles begin to form in the center, about 3 minutes. Remove the ring molds, gently pushing out the crumpets, and flip the crumpets over to brown on the other side. The crumpets are finished when they are golden and puffy, and a toothpick inserted in the enter comes out clean.
Rest the crumpets on a plate, and invert another plate over them, to keep them warm while the next batch cooks. Melt another slice of butter onto the griddle and begin again, repeating until all of the batter is exhausted.
These breakfast treats are best eaten fresh, with jam or marmalade, and a generous portion of butter. They will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days, and are best reheated in a toaster or on a griddle.
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