Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Homemade Crumpets - a joyful treat to begin the waiting

The view from the kitchen
 Advent - a time of waiting. It is traditionally a time of preparation and associated, food wise, with giving things up. However, it differs from a Lenten fast. Advent anticipates the Nativity; it is laced with joy. What better way to begin that with a little homemade treat perfect for freezing cold snowy days? People stuck indoors, particularly during the long cold evenings need something to make them smile. Homemade crumpets can do just that! Yes, you can buy crumpets and bring them home and toast them. They are okay - but sometimes horribly rubbery if left in the hands of someone who knows not the ways of the toaster. But homemade, straight from the pan and covered in butter and jam, served with a big pot of tea - nothing can be better (a tea cosy is optional, but it does give a seasonal feel!). And, as a cook watching the little bubbles on the surface of the crumpet burst to form those traditional holes is such a delight! Almost as fun as frying poppadoms or making 'quavers' from chinese pastry!

You need:

1 level tablespoon of dried yeast
1 level teaspoon of caster sugar
1 level teaspoon of salt
8oz (225g) plain flour
1 pint of milk

Metal egg rings. I know no one who frys their eggs in these, but they are cheap and they do a great job of crumpets, drop scones, mini pancakes, sweet waffles and all sorts, so just get some :). Use lots and lots of grease each time you fill them though, or you will end up is a right stuck.

Lashings of full fat butter - the real thing
Your favourite jam

This is what you do:

Frothy batter ready to go
Heat the milk and 55ml of water in a saucepan until hand hot. Pour into a large jug and mix quickly with the level tablespoon of dried yeast and a level teaspoon of sugar. The yeast should dissolve. Place the jug in a warm place for 10 - 15 minutes until there is about 2 cms of froth on the top. I know the trials of finding a warm place. I have lived for years in draughty student accommodation. When in doubt, turn the oven on to just below the 50C mark and leave the door open.

Meanwhile sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. When the yeast milk is ready, give it a quick stir and pour the whole lot into the well. Using a wooden spoon stir and whisk until you have a completely smooth batter. Cover with a tea towel and return to your warm place for about 45 minutes, by which time your batter should be light and frothy.

Magic frying pan from Norway
Grease your pan and the eggs rings really well, and turn on the heat. I abandoned using the rings in favour of a special pan we have with deep recesses for making Norwegian fishcakes, but I suspect you cannot buy this pan in the UK, so....sorry but you might have to struggle releasing your crumpets! I can only advise using lots of grease, and being very patient. When the pan is hot gently pour about a tablespoon of your mixture into each ring. Let them cook for about 5 minutes: first tiny bubbles will appear on the surface, then, suddenly, they will burst, leaving lots of little holes!
 Browner than they should be. But yum.

Using a large spoon and a fork, lift off the rings and turn the crumpets over. Cook the crumpets on the second side for about a minute. 

Each time you cook a batch you need to regrease the pan and the rings, and heat the pan.

Serve with lashings of butter and jam. Smile - this is just about as good as a snack gets. :)

Enjoy Advent. Wait patiently.

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