I don’t like being a slave to any television programme but for some reason I have allowed myself to become engulfed in the whipped creams, piped swirls, beating, rolling and rising of The Great British Bake Off.
Like a large cream bun I sit on the sofa glued to the performances of the contestants. Sometimes their skills are lacking, but on the whole the standard is high, the ideas creative and the programme easy viewing, entertaining and enough to motivate me to have my own technical challenge.
It was whilst watching the bagels challenge that I realised I had never made a crumpet. I guessed correctly that it was a yeast dough/batter and was cooked on a griddle but other than that I was glued to my recipe. I gave myself a couple of hours, as it needs time for rising, and decided to produce a plate of 12 crumpets for my children Molly and Jake to taste and judge. In true Mary Berry style, “a crumpet should be a spongy, fried little disc with holes laced through it. The secret to the airiest possible crumpet is the second and most important rising after the baking soda has been added. The toasting crisps the crust and completes the cooking.”
8oz plain white flour
1 sachet dried yeast
1 teaspoon of caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8floz warm milk
½ teaspoon baking soda
Butter or oil to fry
In a large bowl or electric mixer beat the flour, sugar, salt and yeast with the warm milk until smooth. Beat on for another couple of minutes until the mixture is the consistency of thick double cream.
Cover the bowl lightly with cling film and let the dough/batter double in size – about an hour in a warming drawer or airing cupboard or a very low oven with the door slightly ajar (a great recipe I thought for a cold morning!).
Mix the baking soda with a tablespoon of warm water and stir into the batter, don’t worry that this will deflate the batter but allow to rise again. A good 40 minutes later and the batter will be filled with good air bubbles.
Place a good griddle plate (a heavy frying pan would be a second choice) on to a low gas ring and allow to slowly heat. Brush with oil or butter and also oil two crumpet rings. As I imagine most of us don’t keep crumpet rings at hand I used my largest pastry cutter instead, oiled it and placed it on top of the griddle plate. Ladle or spoon the mixture into the ring a good centimetre deep. Allow to cook. The crumpet will rise in the ring. Cook for about 8-10 minutes and then remove from the ring and place the crumpet on a wire rack to cool.
Repeat the process until you have a plate of 12 perfect crumpets that you would be proud to serve Mary and Paul or Molly and Jake.
Most of my crumpets worked, they looked like crumpets, they were a little flat and chewy, almost tough! I don’t think I would have won the technical challenge but we did toast and eat them. I also burned my finger tips removing the crumpets from their rings so I’d be a bit more careful if I attempted them again!
Good luck with yours!