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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crumpets

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Probably every American child has a different interperetation of what, exactly, a crumpet might be. All we know at the outset is that dainty ladies have them with their tea, so presumably they are some sort of decadent delicacy.

I can't say what I imagined when I was young. My memory for that kind of thing is kind of pathetic. Maybe I imagined them to be a bit more like petit fours, which to my young mind were the ultimate fancy lady tea party food. But when I discovered as an adult what they actually are, I found them shockingly homespun.

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They are kind of like the English muffin's younger, softer, and more tender cousin. They come complete with the nooks and crannies beloved in the former, but with a milder flavor and fluffier texture -- more like a pancake than bread. For me, they were love at first bite, and I've been dreaming of them ever since.

Rather plain in appearance, they are something special, which I do save for special mornings, when we won't mind splurging on our calories. So many little crannies for the butter to hide, you see.

You don't often find them prepackaged in your regular grocery store, and when you do they are lacking in flavor and have this slightly rubbery texture going on, so you might as well make them at home if you really want to know why they're so awesome. They're not hard at all, requiring only a little time, a griddle, and some round English muffin rings. I didn't have the rings the first time I made them, so I used cookie cutters, which worked great!  (More detail on that provided in the recipe instructions.)

So whip some up -- Tea party optional.

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PS: This strawberry-rhubarb jam is an awesome small batch recipe from Simple Bites. Make it sometime -- you will thank yourself. (You don't even need any special equipment to make it happen.)

Crumpets
PRINTABLE RECIPE

Ingredients:
1, 0.25 oz. pkg. quick yeast (two rounded tsp.)
1/4 c. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 c. warm milk
1 egg, at room temperature
4 Tbsp. butter, melted, plus more for pan and rings
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.  salt

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. Add warm milk, egg, and butter. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into wet ingredients until well mixed, but be careful not to overmix
Heat a large pan or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Butter griddle, and egg/pancake rounds or molds (in a pinch, you can use cookie cutters, plain shapes (circles, simple flowers, hearts, etc.) work best), setting molds onto the hot griddle. Spoon batter into molds and cook until bubbles begin to break the surface of the batter. The bottom will be golden, and the sides will begin to set. Remove molds and flip. Continue cooking until golden. Remove from heat. Repeat, buttering griddle and rings will each time. Slather them with (ahem, yet more) butter and jam. You can also split them, much as you would with an English muffin -- a fork works better than a knife to keep those nooks and crannies intact. They're also delectable, split or not, when toasted.
Makes about 8.

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