As the weather turns cold ahead of winter, I begin to develop an unnatural craving. It starts in the mornings (usually deep within me) and quickly begins to rise, and rise. Soon it is uncontrollable and I must have satisfaction or I will simply not be able to function properly – the lusting takes over my mind.
I need a bit of crumpet.
No really, I need some actual crumpet.
But I hate to settle for the shop-bought variety – they leave me vaguely unsated, as if suffering some dreadful toastus interruptus. For although they have the characteristic holey structure that I long for, and can be browned to a credible crispness, they simply never have the authentic captivating perfume of their handmade cousins.
As a child I wondered at the crumpet. How was it that the baker managed to get such even holes across its surface? Why was it that the crumpet had such unique texture – not quite doughy, not quite chewy? How on earth do you bake something on one side only?
As it happens, the crumpet is remarkably straightforward once its secrets are unveiled. When I made my first batch I was thrilled, and little saddened. The enchantment was somewhat dimmed. A part of me regretted my new-found knowledge, because as with any lust, a bit of mystery usually helps.
You see, crumpets are simply a bread that failed to thrive. Made with just four ingredients, you’ll need a little extra yeast and a little less flour, beating together a wet and slightly sticky batter that is poured into ring moulds over a moderate griddle or a non-stick frying pan.
The real trick in cooking crumpets is to get the heat nice and low. They need to dry out as much as to cook, as it is this process that allows the bubbles in the batter to rise to the top and become captured just as they break the surface, leaving behind those extraordinary holes.
Once they’re set, flip them over and toast them in the pan, or refrigerate them to be popped in the toaster later.
If you’re baulking at making a batch of crumpets because you fear losing your desire for the perfect toasted pastry, let me assure you there will be nothing lost. I simply now have another dirty little secret – I’ve been having a ménage a trois. Sorry, but I couldn’t stop at just one!