Grey Days and Double Crumpets

On grey days I like car­bo­hydrates and a good laugh. This week­end I’ve savoured spring bulbs, a new pair of hole-free wel­lies, an old-fash­ioned joke and a plate of home-made crum­pets.

Crum­pets and I have a long his­tory. I wrote recently about child­hood memor­ies of my Great Auntie Susie’s plain, hon­est Lan­cashire hot­pot. My great auntie cooked sup­pers of hot­pot, ham salad and stew, with the occa­sion­al out­burst of potato frit­ters or cherry pie. But my mum, who worked long hours, always made sup­per on Mondays. The food was exot­ic, glam­or­ous and occa­sion­ally down­right revolu­tion­ary (I’m think­ing par­tic­u­larly of rhu­barb soup, tried once and nev­er repeated). Instead of  hot­pot, she made risotto, chick­en with white wine and asparagus, ginger cake with cof­fee cream filling.

There was no con­nec­tion between the food we loved on Mondays and the recipes we enjoyed the rest of the week. The only over­lap — food that appeared in both rep­er­toires — was pickled beet­root, fish and chips… and crum­pets.  There were saus­ages too, I sup­pose, but one ver­sion was charred to black­ness, the oth­er barely glanced the side of the pan.

Crum­pets — my child­hood cros­sov­er food — are per­fect for grey days. They’re drilled with holes; deep canyons down which melted but­ter can dive. They’re very Brit­ish — if you’ve nev­er tried them, you really must. If you’ve tried them but nev­er cooked them… you really, really must.


Makes around 10

You will need a non-stick fry­ing pan with a lid and four non-stick 8cm cook­ing rings

  • 225g plain flour
  • 300ml warm water
  • 150ml warm, semi skimmed milk
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 1tablespoon caster sug­ar
  • Scant 1/2 tea­spoon salt
  • 1/2 tea­spoon bicar­bon­ate soda

Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add the yeast to the warm water in a sep­ar­ate bowl and stir.

Add the milk and sug­ar to the yeast mix­ture and stir once again. Pour the mixed liquid into the centre of the flour and, with a whisk, gently com­bine the ingredi­ents until you’re left with a smooth, runny bat­ter. Allow the bat­ter to rest for ten minutes and then add the salt and bicar­bon­ate of soda. Stir them in and let your bat­ter rest for a fur­ther ten minutes.

Place the non-stick pan on a mod­er­ate heat. Once it’s hot, place the  rings in the pan and ladle enough mix­ture in to reach the half-way mark.

Bubbles will form after about a minute. Put the lid over the pan and allow the crum­pets to cook for around five minutes. By this time, the mix­ture will be just about set. Using a plastic spat­ula, flip the rings over. Push the crum­pets down so that the tops of them are now touch­ing the sur­face of the pan. Allow them to cook for a fur­ther minute, until they’re golden brown on top. Remove them from the pan and release them from the rings. Repeat the pro­cess until you’ve fin­ished the bat­ter. Either eat the crum­pets straight­away with but­ter or save them for later, toast­ing them in the toast­er to warm them through.

There was a daft phase in com­mer­cial bread-mak­ing, when a large man­u­fac­turer attemp­ted to sell oblong-shaped crum­pets. Any­one who’s been brought up on crum­pets could have told them it was a ter­rible idea. I think of myself as someone who was brought up on crum­pets not once but twice — on Mondays and every oth­er day of the week too. If the bread fact­ory had only asked me about rect­an­gu­lar crum­pets, I could have saved them an awful lot of trouble.

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28 thoughts on “Grey Days and Double Crumpets

  1. Although your over­seas read­ers may not be able to vouch for the more­ish nature of a good buttered crumpet,i cer­tainly can! I would just like to add that the new chiaroscuro-esque pic­tures are great!

    • You sound as though you’re a crum­pet expert. They’re the per­fect food, I agree. And I’m so pleased you like the black and white exper­i­ment — thank you very much.

      • As a child we were brought up on crum­pets with them being our after school treat and Sunday morn­ing spe­cial. Although being from York­shire they have always been known as pike­lets with crum­pets being the more bready, toast in front of the fire bun. My grand­moth­er always made them from scratch on a range oven and I loved to watch the bubble erup­tions as they cooked. As a teen­ager we man­aged with the store bought vari­et­ies until, as a moth­er myself , I star­ted to make them with my own chil­dren. What had we been miss­ing! Memor­ies flooded back and what a dif­fer­ence to store bought!
        Oh and black/white is good, I love the clar­ity it brings to an image.

        • Hi Dee What great memor­ies you have of crum­pets and pike­lets. I love the vis­ion of your grand­moth­er at the range, cook­ing them for a Sunday morn­ing treat. Isn’t it a rev­el­a­tion when you start mak­ing them your­self? So sat­is­fy­ing to see those little bubbles form.
          I’m very glad you like the black and white pic­tures — an exper­i­ment I think I’ll repeat.
          Thanks so much for leav­ing a com­ment — it’s very much appre­ci­ated.

  2. Fas­cin­at­ing. For some reas­on it had nev­er occurred to me that you could make your own crum­pets, or that the source of the holes is bicarb. The B&W pic­tures are also a tri­umph. No won­der the ace pho­to­graph­ers of old stuck to them long after col­our arrived on the scene. Indeed some of today’s still love the eleg­ance of mono­tones. The word ‘clas­sic’ comes to mind.

    • The impact of black and white is mes­mer­ising, isn’t it? Whenev­er I turn to mono­tones I feel as though I won’t use col­our again. I can’t explain exactly why. But, on the food front, you really should try mak­ing your own crum­pets — they’re good.

    • I’m very pleased that you think so — thank you, thank you. And I agree — crum­pets are per­fect

  3. Beau­ti­ful pho­tos, Charlie. Have to say I nev­er quite fan­cied crum­pets grow­ing up, but my wife has more of a pen­chant for them and each time she has them nowadays, I love try­ing them again. There’s noth­ing quite like them, espe­cially in your mono­tone shots here!

    • Thank you, Matt — I’m so happy you like the pic­tures. There’s some­thing magic­al about black and white pho­to­graphs I think. And crum­pets too. My son has them every single day, with moun­tains of pea­nut but­ter.

  4. I’m delighted that my teens have inher­ited my love of crum­pets (and love of Mar­mite too). This is a kick to make them from scratch, which I have nev­er done. Great step by step instruc­tions and lovely mono­chrome pics. I’ve been tak­ing a few myself recently and lov­ing the res­ults.
    The pools of melted but­ter that drip through the holes com­bined with some­thing sticky (golden syr­up was our child­hood choice) wiped up with the last bit of crum­pet is a joy not to be under­es­tim­ated.

    • Fas­cin­at­ing that you have such a clear memory from child­hood, not just of the taste but the look and the ritu­al too. Crum­pets are so much more than they at first appear.

  5. I’ve been away for 10 days and com­ing here to your blog and I really feel like I’m home! Stun­ning black & white pho­tos, deep, dark, moody, so express­ive! I love them! And crum­pets. I love crum­pets and have them every single time I’m in Lon­don. Shall I attempt your recipe and actu­ally try and have them at home? Thanks, Charlie. x

    • Bet­ter still — next time you’re in the UK I’ll make you some, Jam­ie.
      It was hugely pleas­ur­able using black and white again. It’s some­thing I haven’t done in a long time, but plan to do more. There’s some­thing, as you say, so express­ive about b and w. So glad you liked the pic­tures.

  6. I have just wasted a good hour look­ing through your lovely blog which I dis­covered today! Pho­tos are beau­ti­ful as are the recipes.

    • Thanks so much for writ­ing, Jan­nine — I always appre­ci­ate it very much. I hope it wasn’t a ‘wasted’ hour exactly! Of course I am abso­lutely delighted that you’re enjoy­ing Eggs On The Roof.

  7. I too have just dis­covered your won­der­ful blog. I feel inspired to use your crum­pet recipe, some­thing I have always wanted to do, but nev­er felt brave enough, as I couldn’t ima­gine they would turn out “right”. I’m going to have a go at these … I just love crum­pets, but­ter ooz­ing through the holes … yum!

    • Wel­come to Eggs On The Roof, Chris — it’s great to hear from you and thank you for your lovely com­ment. I hope you try the crum­pets.

  8. First time at your blog, came over because of the black gar­lic post actu­ally. Love the black and white pho­tos, and the writ­ing. “On grey days I like car­bo­hydrates and a good laugh.” haha this just made me laugh, and on a grey day. Now I just need to go get some carbs in me and I’ll be alright 😉

    • Hello Shuhan — great to read your com­ment. Actu­ally, it made me laugh which is only right since I made you laugh too. Thanks very much for drop­ping by.

  9. I abso­lutely love crum­pets and every time I vis­it Jeanne end up buy­ing enough to bring back home. I’d love to try mak­ing them at home. Thanks for the inspir­a­tion and the recipe Charlie!

    • The recipe does work really well, Meeta. I hope you find it cre­ates the crum­pets of your memory!

  10. Thanks for plant­ing the seed — we had lots of fun mak­ing and eat­ing copi­ous amounts of crum­pets! So quick, soooooo good! .…but.…just wondered if you have any tips to get more bubbles? Some had lots and some had few mak­ing them a little dense. I made a second batch with less sug­ar (liked bet­ter) and a bit more bicarb aim­ing for more bubbles but no notice­able increase. Thanks! B

    • I am so pleased that you enjoyed mak­ing and eat­ing the crum­pets — thanks so much for let­ting me know. The bubble ques­tion is a tricky one. You need the acid­ic part of sug­ar to react with the bicarb, so redu­cing the quant­ity of sug­ar you use may be part of the prob­lem. Bicarb also has a very def­in­ite shelf life, so check that it isn’t past its sell-by date. Make sure you’ve mixed it in prop­erly so that it’s fully dis­persed through­out the mix­ture. Once mixed, don’t leave it too long before you start the cook­ing pro­cess. I hope that has the desired effect!

  11. Oh — tears of nos­tal­gia came to my eyes — I haven’t had crum­pets for years, but they were always a winter treat, ooz­ing with but­ter and with a mere wisp of mar­mite, eaten by a roar­ing fire after a dreary winter walk. They were always bought though — I had nev­er thought of try­ing to make them myself. I don’t think we can buy them here in South Africa, so I haven’t had any since we moved here. Now I have to go and find some bak­ing rings so that I can indulge myself with child­hood taste memor­ies and see if my chil­dren will like them as much as I do. Thanks for this recipe and for mak­ing them sound so easy!

    • Do, please, let me know if you make them, Kit. I love the thought of crum­pets trav­el­ling all the way to South Africa and, hope­fully, mak­ing your chil­dren as fond of them as we are. And I agree that a ‘mere wisp of mar­mite’ is just what crum­pets need.

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