For the past two weeks I've been craving, out of the blue, a big pile of warm crumpets. And also french fries. OK, scratch that, I always crave french fries, I mean, who doesn't. But this week I ate some after a long hiatus and now I just want more more more! Ahem, but this is about the crumpets, which are not a normal craving. I know exactly who to blame for this, however.
My friend Jen recently went to England (and Paris, but we wont even talk about that because I might cry if I think about it too hard) and reported back on her blog about how lovely the whole trip was, royal wedding tchotchkes and all. Amongst her tales was the mention of clotted cream. And that, my friends, is what set me off.
The most wonderful, delicious, amazing meal I have ever eaten in my whole life was at the kitchen of one of my English great aunties. I was about 12 and we were there for Christmas and one morning in the midst of the hustle and bustle of having house guests at Christmas, she pulled out a tub of clotted cream for us to eat for breakfast with a package of crumpets. I'm not really sure on the particulars after that, I may or may not have consumed the entire container of the stuff, but it's all a bit of a blur, like in those movies when people fall in love and the camera gets all fuzzy around the edges.
Lest you think that this auntie was some kind of great chef, I should also mention that the absolutely wost meal I've ever consumed in my life was also eaten at that table. Bubble and Squeak. I know there are people out there in the world (somewhere) who love this dish, otherwise, why would it survive? But even in Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson popped over and whipped up a batch in my kitchen, I don't think I could taste even the smallest bite. It was a very traumatic experience.
Anyway, all her talk about the English countryside and clotted cream got me salivating over my memories. And this led to a almost insane longing for crumpets. Occasionally I drive over to the Trader Joe's in Richmond and stock up on all sorts of goodies, crumpets among them if they have any, but otherwise, I almost never get to eat them. If you've never had a crumpet, it's like a pancake and an English muffin had a baby and then demanded that it be slathered with melted butter and eaten. I know, right? What could be better?
Over the years I've thought about making them, but you need a crumpet ring thing, which I don't have (although, it might be a good investment, come to think of it). But after several days of having crumpet related dreams, I got online and looked up recipes, just to see if there was a ringless version and low and behold, there was! Even better, the very first recipe I ran across was by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who is my go to guy on jam. And if they guy can get great jam recipes, I know his crumpets will be awesome. Because jam and crumpets go together like, well, like PB and J.
Apparently ring less crumpets are called pikelets. How freaking cute is that? I think I'd make them even if I didn't know what they were just for the name. And other than the need to sit for a few hours to let the yeast do its thing, these were really, really easy. And my kids scarfed them up like they hadn't been fed in a week ( I promise, I do feed them from time to time). They are very yummy, in fact, they are scrummy, as the English say.
I used about half the batter to make little crumpets, using a heaping tablespoon for each, because Evie wanted to have a tea party and if you already have crumpets on hand, well, why not, ya know? The rest of the batter was used up making English muffin sized specimens which we toasted for snacks that afternoon and breakfast the next morning. lots of good, melted butter and a little jam and/or clotted cream if you can find it, make them heavenly. And now I need to go get another batch going because I kid you not, Briton has asked for them at every meal since we ran out three days ago. And I promised that afterschool there would be a batch waiting for him to eat with his afterschool cup of tea (yes, my son often acts like an 80 year old Englishman, he also walks in the door and takes his pants off and drinks his tea in his boxers. Which is just further proof that we are more EastEnders than Windsor Palace type of Brits, and proud of it :))
What are you cooking this week? Anything new? Anything fun and exciting?
adapted from gaurdian.co.uk
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 heaping teaspoon of yeast
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Whisk the flour, milk, eater and yeast together until combined and then cover with a kitchen towel or Saran Wrap and allow it to sit until bubbly (about 2 hours for me).
Spray a griddle pan with a generous coating of spray and heat to medium low. Stir in the salt and baking powder and drop onto the hot pan by the tablespoon (for small) or 1/4 cup full (for the larger).
Allow the batter to cook until bubbles form all over the top and the batter has stopped looking glossy then flip and cook for 1 minute more. If bubbles aren't forming, add a little more water. Serve hot off the griddle, cold or toasted with lashings of butter or clotted cream.