If you’ve lived in the UK, it’s hard to *not* know what a crumpet is – you may have even had a sourdough crumpet as the supermarkets now sell them quite commonly. Somehow, these stovetop breads haven’t made it very far outside of England though which is a shame because they’re truly a delicious snack.
Using up excess sourdough starter
The batter for these guys is a dream because not only can you immediately use it (no proving or kneading!) but it is the best way I’ve found of using up excess sourdough starter! If you have a sourdough starter you’ll know the internal struggle of having to throw away loads of it each day you feed it (unless you’re making something on that day). Not only is it wasteful, it also makes my bin STINK of vinegar/alcohol. Making crumpets solves all of that though!
You just collect the starter you would’ve thrown away in a lidded container. Pop it in the fridge and keep it there, adding to it each day. By the end of the week you should have enough starter there to make a batch of crumpets
But what is a crumpet?
I’ve seen a lot of people confused by what they are. Are crumpets like an English muffin? or more like a pancake?
Crumpets are made with a loose batter and cooked on the stove in a ring mold to help them keep their shape and get nice and tall as they rise. As they cook, bubbles form on the surface and pop, eventually leading to a surface riddled with holes. The holes are *key* to a good crumpet, the reason being that all those holes allow whatever toppings you put on it to seep into the crumpet. Classic toppings are butter + marmite or butter + honey/golden syrup. I am partial to a crumpet covered with peanut butter & jam though!
When they’re hot from the stove, you can just go ahead and eat the crumpet right then and there. However, after they’ve sat around for a bit it’s best to toast them before eating so all the toppings get all melty.
About the batter
Inspired by my previous sourdough crumpets, The Fresh Loaf recipe and the TrashCrumps of Martha De Lacey, I’ve come up with a batter that I think works best. I combine a mixture of leftover starter with some fresh flour and water – I think it helps the texture of the batter and stops it sticking to the rings as much. I’ve opted for baking powder as I found using bicarbonate of soda left my crumpets too metallic-tasting and with a yellow discolouration. I also didn’t add any sugar as that just exacerbates the batter sticking to the rings too. If you’re finding that the crumpets aren’t holey enough for your liking you can (a) thin the batter out with some more water and (b) ensure you’re cooking them niiiice and slow over a low heat.
What if I don’t have crumpet rings?
You do need some kind of round, heatproof ring to cook the batter in but buying crumpet rings is just another bit of clutter in the kitchen. I get it, I do! I don’t have crumpet rings either! I have a nesting set of metal, round pastry cutters that I use instead (so I end up with a variety of sizes which I actually quite like). You could also use a thoroughly cleaned tuna can with the top + bottom cut off and the label removed.
An important note about greasing the rings
In the many times I’ve made these crumpets, I’ve noticed something interesting – the type of oil used to grease the rings is very important! When I used vegetable oil, the crumpets got more stuck to the rings. It wasn’t too difficult to get them out – you just need to run a butter knife or small palette knife around the edge to release them. But I found that when I greased the rings with refined olive oil the crumpets popped out of the rings without any effort at all. I think it may have been something to do with the olive oil being more viscous than the veg oil but I’m not certain.
- 150g sourdough starter
- 60g plain white (all-purpose) flour
- 60g water
- 1/8 tsp (a pinch) salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- refined olive oil, for greasing (see post on why this is important)
- 3-inch crumpet rings (see post on what to use instead of crumpet rings, if needed)
- In a medium bowl, combine the sourdough starter, flour, water, salt and baking powder. Mix really well to combine into a smooth batter.
- Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a low heat. Brush the inside of 3 to 4 crumpet rings (or whatever you're using) and arrange on the frying pan.
- Spoon batter into the rings - you should need about 1 heaped tablespoon of batter per ring. You only want it to fill the ring about a quarter of the way up as the batter rises a lot as the crumpets cook.
- Leave to cook on the lowest heat. You will see bubbles forming on the surface which will eventually start to burst, leaving little holes on the surface. If you want to, you can use a toothpick to help poke the bubbles too for an extra holey surface.
- The surface will start to change colour and look dull. The underside of the crumpet should be dark golden. Remove the ring from the crumpet, using a dull knife to run around the edge of the ring if needed to release the crumpet. Flip the crumpet over and let cook on the other side until darkened.
- Remove the cooked crumpets from the frying pan. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
- Eat crumpets warm (or, once cooled, toast them to warm them up) with butter and marmite or honey or golden syrup. Store leftovers in the freezer - you can toast them straight from frozen.
- the sourdough starter can be cold from the fridge
- Discard: Collect up the starter you'd usually throw away (the 'discard') in a lidded container. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, adding to it as you produce more discard, until you have enough to make crumpets
- Not enough bubbles? Try adding more liquid to the batter to thin it out. Also make sure you're cooking them on a low heat which will encourage that bubble formation!