So I disappeared for a while. But now it’s 2014, and new years mean new resolutions, and my food based ones are extensive. I’ve complained in the past about the quantity of cookery books I have, and the infrequency with which I actually bother to use them. This changes now. I’ve spent the afternoon sitting with a large pile of them, looking for 52 things I want to bake in the next year.
1. One recipe a week
2. Nothing I’ve made before
Of course as soon as I started sifting through, I realised there were going to be far more than 52 things. But it’s good to have a shortlist (or a long list) from which to choose. And it will challenge me, and make me bake things like Brooklyn Blackout Cake which I’ve been looking at for…years now and thinking I should try it one day. Well, that day has now come.
I’ve also resolved to eat less meat. I’ve spent quite a lot of time recently reading about sustainability and climate change, and everything keeps telling me I should become vegan. I’m not going to lie though, I have no desire to be vegan, I like milk and bacon too much. But, as a compromise, I am buying all my meat locally, I’m thinking a lot more about where the food I buy comes from, and I’m going to try and eat vegetarian whenever I eat out. So, small steps.
Anyway, without further ado, the first recipe on my list is CRUMPETS!
My boyfriend decided it would be funny to buy me crumpet rings for Christmas. I’m still convinced he bought them because he knew he would get freshly baked crumpets, but he continues to deny it. Crumpets are one of those things that for the longest time I just assumed came out of a packet bought from the supermarket, and I had no idea how they were made, apart from probably by a machine in a factory somewhere. Then along came Peyton and Byrne’s British Baking, at which point I found out that you, yes you can make crumpets in your own home, with some crumpet rings and a frying pan! (and some ingredients of course…)
Except, sometimes, things go wrong. And you’ve definitely followed the recipe, but it’s just not right….
My first few crumpets (cough…all) turned out more like under-done batter than crumpets. Wholeheartedly disappointed, I decided to dig out the recipe I had earlier discarded from the back of the packet the crumpet rings. Was it quite different? Yes. Yes it was. Not in ingredients perhaps, but definitely method. So I can tell you now, no, my batter was not left to rise enough, yes, it lacked bubbles and smoothness. Am I going to try again with this recipe? Yes. It’s official, Peyton and Byrne, you failed me. Spectacularly. But we shall try again, and who knows, maybe they will turn out right next time (watch this space). As a way of not wasting the remaining batter (once I realised the entire batch was going to be a total failure) I tried to use it to make pancakes. Even those didn’t work. Oh well.
So, if you want to make some crumpets, have a recipe that I think will work (although is yet to be properly tested):
250g strong white bread flour
1x 7g sachet dried fast action yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
butter for greasing and to serve
1. Heat the water and milk together until lukewarm. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the yeast, sugar, bicarb and salt.
2. With a large wooden spoon, mix the warm milk and water into the flour mixture, then whisk for a few minutes until a batter is formed. Place a damp tea towel over the bowl and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, by which time the mixture should have risen and be full of bubbles.
3. Generously grease the inside of the crumpet rings and add a knob of butter into a pre-heated frying pan. Place the crumpet rings into the frying pan and add approx. 2 tbsp batter into each ring, so they’re about half full.
4. Cook on a medium to low heat for about 10 mins, until the surface has bubbled, formed holes and has dried out. Try to remove the rings (although I’m pretty sure it’s not the end of the world if you can’t) and then flip the crumpets over so the tops can brown.
5. Serve immediately with butter, or save for later for toasting.
Next week: Crumpets, vol. II and Rosemary Apple Yoghurt Cake