Oh what a week its been, sadly not a good one. We’re still waiting for the electricity to be fixed (I know, I know I keep going on about this but its driving me mad!) so all the floors and walls are wet. Without being able to turn in the air conditioning on, the floor is permanently damp. We mop it dry, and minutes later the humidity settles again and we’re slipping around again. To make things worse, I’ve come down with a nasty virus this week, and spent most of it lying on the sofa, everything hurting. The distinctly unglamorous side to expat living.
In times like these, thoughts of home, warm sofas, and cats come to mind. The cheeky creature in the picture above, by the way, is my cat Whiskey. She’s a little old lady of a cat, at the grand old age of 19. She lives back in England with my Mum, lording over the house. Switching from sweet and affectionate to cantankerous and grumpy in the blink of an eye, as is the luxury of grand old dames. She is especially unpleasant when asked to be civil to the other furry legged occupant, my brothers beast of a cat, Oscar. Oscar moved in a few years ago and he is a huge, fluffy, ridiculous cat. Unfortunately Oscar would like nothing better than to chase Whiskey around the house with his still kittenish exuberance. Needless to say, this does not go down well with our little feline matriarch.
Its claws out and fur balls at dawn whenever these two come into contact.
I’d always imagined crumpets would be something terribly hard to make. All that lightness, all those bubbles. Just how on earth do you create that beautiful, delicate structure at home? I was very happily surprised. All you really need is a little time to let things rise and rest.
You start with a soft and simple flour, warm milk and yeast dough. Let it rise then drop down again. Then you whip it into a batter with warm water and bicarbonate of soda.
The yeast and the bicarbonate of soda are working together to create that delightful, bubbly, tunnelled structure.
The crumpets are cooked in rings on a hot griddle, or heavy frying pan. As they cook you watch little bubbles of air rise to the surface and burst.Once cooked, they have a tender centre, and a lovely golden crust on the bottom.
Its best to make a first test crumpet, so you can work out your temperatures and the amount of batter you need in your ring. If you feel like your crumpets are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down a bit. I had mine on quite a low heat so they actually cooked a little slower than the recommended times.
When you grease your crumpet rings, I found the best thing to use was a little cake release. I’m in love with this stuff at the moment! A quick wipe around the rings with a little cake release on a piece of kitchen paper and the crumpets slide straight out of the rings. I tried using a little vegetable oil and found that my crumpets stuck a bit around the edges.
The only real difficulty when making these crumpets is deciding just what to top them with. Lashings of salted butter is always a very strong contender. Sometimes I like them sweet, topped with a little jam, or a generous spoon of nutella. I think the winner for me, however, is a gorgeous slice of sharp strong cheddar, melted and gooey on top.
(from Paul Hollywood)
(makes approximately 12 crumpets)
175g strong white flour
175g plain flour
2 x 7g sachets of instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
350ml warm milk
150 – 200ml warm water
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
a little sunflower oil, for cooking
Mix the two flours together in a large bowl. Add the sachets of dried yeast, and stir through the flour.
Dissolve the sugar into the warm milk. Pour it into the flours and mix well. Beat for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth batter. You’ll need to put in a bit of elbow grease, but this will produce the bubbles in your crumpets.
Cover the bowl with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or up to an hour if needed. You’re waiting for the dough to rise back up, then start to collapse back on itself again.
In a jug, mix the bicarbonate of soda with the salt and the warm water. Pour about half of it into the batter. Beat together. Now slowly add the rest of the water, mixing as you go, until you’ve got a thin batter, about the consistency of a pancake batter or double cream. You may not need all the water.
Cover the batter and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease 4 crumpet rings. I found that rubbing on a bit of cake release was the best way for the crumpets to slide straight out the rings.
Heat a large heavy based non stick frying pan or a griddle. Using a piece of kitchen roll, coat the pan with a little oil. Place the rings into the middle of the pan.
Heat the pan over a medium heat.
Half fill your crumpet rings with batter, you need about 2 dessert spoons full of batter per crumpet.
Cook for about 4 – 5 minutes on one side. The crumpets are ready to turn when the bubbles have formed on the surface and popped.
Flip over the crumpets, still in their rings, and cook on the other side for 2 – 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and slip out their rings.
Re-grease your rings and cook the rest of the batter in batches.
Serve immediately or cool completely on a wire rack.