We lived in London in 2007 and I absolutely fell in love with the city. Aside from how expensive it is, London is the perfect city (in my opinion) - it has the culture and opportunity of a huge city like New York but it also has the charm and character and beauty of a cleaner, older city like Boston. Additionally, it has incredible (and numerous) parks, fabulous shopping and so many neighborhoods to explore. Plus, all of the idiosyncrasies of British life are so endearing (most of the time). And the Mews! I love the Mews! I may only see London through rose-tinted glasses, but I am fine with that.
One of the many rituals I enjoyed while in London was eating crumpets. We stumbled upon them one day while picking up milk at the corner store. They weren't anything fancy, just packaged crumpets like you would buy english muffins or bread in the United States, but they were delicious! They have a delightful spongy texture and a "yeastier" taste than English muffins. And they are so very good.
You can certainly find crumpets in the United States, but really only in specialty shops or online. But you can make them (and quite easily) in your own kitchen! Trust me, you'll be happy you did... they are so good for breakfast or dessert or any time in between. There isn't any special equipment required, but it can be helpful to use circular cookie cutters or English muffin rings if you have them. Crumpets are delicious toasted and served with butter, honey or jam.
One piece of advice about this recipe... I have adapted the original recipe (I can't remember the source) because I find that the crumpets won't cook through without burning unless you flip them once. This isn't the "traditional" approach, but rather than getting one burnt side and one almost-raw side to the crumpet, you actually get an evenly-cooked end result. King Arthur Flour's recipe for crumpets suggests flipping them so I don't feel quite as bad about "cheating".
1/2 cup warm (approximately 110 degrees) water
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm (approximately 110 degrees) milk (whole milk is preferable)
3/2 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup lukewarm water
unsalted butter for greasing the pan
Combine warm water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit until foamy. This should take approximately 5 minutes. If the mixture isn't foamy, the water may have been too hot or your yeast may no longer be active. If the mixture isn't foamy, don't just continue (the recipe won't work)! Try re-mixing and adjusting the water temperature (or try new yeast if you know yours is old). Add warm milk and salt to yeast mixutre, then stir in flour. Beat hard using an electric mixer or stand mixer for 5 minutes.
Cover bowl and set in a warm place. Let batter rise for 3 hours our until very bubbly. If batter bubbles and falls, that is fine.
Dissolve baking soda into 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Stir gently into batter. Let rise again for 30 minutes.
Heat a greased pan for 10 minutes on very low heat. This step is critical - the crumpets need to cook at a relatively low temperature and you don't want them to burn. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each ring on the pan (or into a circular shape). Crumpet batter should spread easily into a circular shape.
Cook the crumpets for 8 minutes without flipping. The tops should be uncolored but dry and full of holes. If you find that the crumpets are browning too quickly on the bottom but aren't ready on the top, flip them once to even the cooking (this isn't traditional but it is practical).
Crumpets are best enjoyed toasted.