Back in my youth, before I hit my terminal oatmeal phase, crumpets were my daily breakfast staple. Run through the toaster just long enough to warm through, but not crisp, nothing could beat that speed and versatility. These were the dark ages before good vegan butter existed, so I would usually opt for a light smear of creamy peanut butter instead. If I was feeling particularly decadent, it would get a sprinkle of cinnamon and sliced banana on top, too. In the spare few minutes I had before running off to catch the train to school, that was the height of luxury.
I don’t know why I stopped eating crumpets. There were no supply chain issues to blame, no big falling out I can recall. I just seemed to suddenly forget about them for two decades.
And then, just as suddenly, that familiar craving came rushing back in a tsunami wave of nostalgia.
The texture is reminiscent of many similar bread products, yet stands alone as its own unique entity. Soft, spongy, and chewy, most people compare them to English muffins or pancakes, but I’d say they’re more like really thick injera made from wheat flour.
They’re very simple, yet surprisingly difficult to perfect. This was not my first attempt at making crumpets; shamefully, I’ve churned out more smooth flapjacks than I’d like to admit. It turns out that the secret is… Cheating.
It’s not anything as terrible as copying your classmate during the final exam. It just feels a bit like trickery when the key to creating that signature network of lacy holes is- Now don’t judge me here- To poke them open with a toothpick.
It’s not all forced, artificially manipulated texture, since they do bubble up naturally. A tiny touch of extra vital wheat gluten ensures that chewy texture, but it also makes the protein network just slightly too strong to burst open without a bit of help. You don’t need to go crazy and jab at the little skillet cakes relentlessly, but give them a little poke while you’re standing over the stove already, and they’ll be better than store-bought.
The holes are really what make crumpets so special. Providing a lacy network of pockets for clotted cream or melting butter to pool, it’s almost like a super soft waffle. They were made to be topped, lavishly or simply, to reach their full potential.
Crumpets are made of humble ingredients, with a downright silly preparation, but that’s all part of the fun. If you’ve ever wanted to relive your childish days of popping bubbles for fun, here’s a more productive way to indulge.