Pretty Dishes

March 3, 2010, 3:13 pm
Filed under: City Arts

I’ll be totally honest: making crumpets was quite a challenge for me.

Because I’m not a baker at heart, I don’t inherently know how doughs are supposed to look or what mistakes or measures are fixable while others lead to disaster. I’m interested in getting better at this (I own Baking by James Peterson and fully intend to read it from cover to cover, among other references), however, I must also admit that too many constraints in the kitchen can make me cranky. No one enjoys failures, and I’ve accepted that I’m more likely to have an issue when yeast/rising is involved than I will putting together a cake or cookies, and much more so than simply cooking, which usually doesn’t require much in the way of exact measures at all.

So I made these crumpets twice. The first time was a total failure. Two things went wrong. The first was that the recipe I had did not give a weight for the flour, and (upon obtaining it for the second attempt) it turns out the cup measure was too much. The second was that I didn’t remeasure the milk after scalding it. I considered this in passing but got sidetracked and dumped it in to the flour mixture unchecked. Turns out with too much flour there wasn’t a whole lot to be done even if the milk amount was correct, but I’m thinking the milk probably did evaporate a little too much (I started with a little extra, but probably not enough extra), which further compounded the problem. In my defense, I knew it didn’t look right at all, seeing as the dough was tough like cold cookie dough rather than more of a batter. I left it to “rise” just in case, and when it did nothing except smell vaguely of yeast, I tossed it in defeat.

The next day I went back to the source to troubleshoot, got the flour weight, remeasured the milk after scalding, and ended up with a very different, more batter-like result. This was promising.

After the rising and resting was complete, the batter was still pretty thick and sticky, so cooking the crumpets was a whole other challenge. I used a buttered tuna can (top and bottom removed) as my mold, glopped in the batter (which didn’t spread easily), and tried to keep the pan temperature at just the right level to neither brown the crumpets too much nor undercook the center. This was tough, and I think it was with the fifth crumpet that I finally got a golden exterior and a solid center. The others were pretty uneven, as you can see from the photos.

I’m a little surprised that the recipe posted on the City Arts blog doesn’t have the flour weight given my debacle (it was 5.5 ounces if you need it), but oh well. A few other items were revised from the recipe I actually tested, so perhaps the posted one is improved.

In any case, I won’t be volunteering to make crumpets again anytime soon, primarily because I can’t claim to be a huge fan of eating them, so there you have it.

I’m fond of the stacked crumpets and the crumpet with jam photo, though does it look vaguely like a Muppet crumpet with a mouth (just needs googly eyes . . . )?

(Recipe and select photos here.)


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