Just What Is a Crumpet?

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Americans know crumpets as a British teatime treat, but what exactly are they? Here's the answer—and a recipe.

Traveling, whether it’s out of the country or just to the next state, is a great way to discover new and interesting foods. On my first trip to London I was eager to try all the quintessential British foods—Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips and steamed pudding. But the one I most wanted to find? Crumpets.

What are crumpets?

Most Americans have heard of tea and crumpets, but ask what a crumpet actually is and you’ve lost almost all of them. It’s unlike anything we have in the U.S., so we can’t really compare it to something familiar. The closest comparison I can make is an English muffin. They’re close in size and shape, but the similarities end there.

The top of a crumpet is full of holes, like what you want to see when cooking pancakes just prior to flipping them. Their hidden secret quickly becomes apparent the instant you slather a hot crumpet with butter and/or jam. When they melt, they have nowhere to go but sink deep into all those lovely holes.

While a crumpet’s outside is crisp, especially after toasting, the inside is the complete opposite. Moist, chewy and just a little bit short of being gummy, it’s so unlike an English muffin you’ll immediately see why you really can’t compare the two.

Butter is probably the most common topping, but I always reach for orange marmalade. Other great toppings include any kind of nut butter, cream cheese or, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, try it topped with a little Marmite for a truly unique British flavor. Trust me, your first bite of a hot, buttered crumpet is something you’ll remember for quite a long time.

How to Make Crumpets

Since a trip to the U.K. just for a crumpet seems a little extravagant, you can make them at home. Here’s my recipe, which serves 10.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup warm whole milk (110° to 115°F)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Step 1: Make the batter

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in honey; let stand until bubbles form on surface, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, 2 tablespoon butter and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Step 2: Prep the griddle

Brush griddle and 3-1/2 in. metal rings or open-topped metal cookie cutters with remaining melted butter. Place rings on griddle; heat over low heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into each ring.

Step 3: Cook the crumpets

Cook until bubbles begin to pop and the top appears dry, about 8 minutes. Remove rings. Turn crumpets; cook until the second side is golden brown and crumpet is cooked through, 6-8 minutes longer. Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack and toast before serving.

They don’t take a lot of time to make, but on weekday mornings who has an hour to let dough rise? Luckily, these crumpets freeze beautifully. Just pop a couple in an airtight container and store in your freezer for up to 6 months. Then, when you want a quick treat, just pull them out to warm in the toaster.

Slather Your Crumpets with Homemade Jam
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James Schend
As Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, Culinary, James oversees the Food Editor team, recipe contests and Bakeable, and manages all food content for Trusted Media Brands. Prior to this position, James worked in the kitchen of Williams-Sonoma and Southern Living. An honor graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, he has traveled the world searching for great food in all corners of life.