A buttered crumpet
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Crumpets may have been an Anglo-Saxon invention. In early times, they were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era, which were made with yeast. The crumpet-makers of the English Midlands and London developed the characteristic holes, by adding extra baking powder to the yeast dough. The term itself may refer to a crumpled or curled-up cake, or have Celtic origins relating to the Breton krampoez meaning a "thin, flat cake" and the Welsh crempog or crempot, a type of pancake.
The English crumpet
Crumpets are generally circular roughly 8 cm (3") in diameter and 2 cm (0.8") thick. Their shape comes from being restrained in the pan/griddle by a shallow ring. They have a characteristic flat top with many small pores and a chewy and spongy texture. They may be cooked until ready to eat warm from the pan, but are frequently left slightly undercooked so that they may be cooled and stored before being eaten freshly toasted. In Australia and New Zealand, branded square crumpets can be purchased from supermarkets, designed to fit easily in a standard toaster. They are often eaten with a spread of butter or some alternative spread on the top of them.
A regional variation of the crumpet is the pikelet, whose name derives from the Welsh bara piglydd or "pitchy [i.e. dark or sticky] bread", later shortened simply to piglydd; the early 17th century lexicographer, Randle Cotgrave, spoke of "our Welsh barrapycleds". The word spread initially to the West Midlands, where it became anglicised as "pikelet", and subsequently to Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and other areas of the north.
The term "pikelet" is also used in Australia and New Zealand for a similarly flat cake, of the type that in Scotland and North America would be called a pancake and in England a Scotch pancake, girdle or griddle cake, or drop scone.
A Scottish crumpet is essentially a pancake cooked in a slightly different way, made from the same ingredients as a Scotch pancake, and is about 180 mm (7 inches) diameter and 8 mm (0.3 inches) thick. They are available plain, or as a fruit crumpet with raisins baked in, and are not reheated before serving; they are usually served with butter and jam. The ingredients include a leavening agent, usually baking powder, and different proportions of eggs, flour and milk which create a thin batter. Unlike a pancake, they are cooked to brown on one side only, resulting in a smooth darker side where it has been heated by the griddle, then lightly cooked on the other side which has holes where bubbles have risen to the surface during cooking. It bears little resemblance to the English crumpet.
This is the normal kind of crumpet in Scottish bakers' shops, tea rooms, and cafés, though the English type of crumpet is often obtainable in supermarkets in addition to the Scottish kind.
- Ann Hagen, A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food Processing and Consumption, 1992, p.20
- Crumpet, Online Dictionary.
- Commercial website "Golden Crumpets"
- Edwards, W. P. The Science of Bakery Products, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2007, p.198
- Luard, E. European Peasant Cookery, Grub Street, 2004, p.449
- The folk-speech of south Cheshire, English Dialect Society, 1887, p.293
- Wilson, C. A. Food & drink in Britain, Barnes and Noble, 1974, p.266
- Davidson, A. The Penguin Companion to Food, 2002, p.277
- The Concise Household Encyclopedia (ca. 1935) Fleetway House, The Amalgamated Press, London
- Traditional Scottish Recipes - Scottish Crumpets
|Look up crumpet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Recipe for crumpets by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
- Recipe for crumpets on bakingmad.com
- Description and recipe on history.uk
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