Yeeesss! Success! We've got crumpets!
I have spent years filling up my suitcase with them every time I went back to the UK. Even begging friends to do the same for me. And why have I never thought of making them myself? Who knows. Possibly, because for me they've always been something that came off the shelf, and even when I used to live in England I had never dreamt one could make them at home.
Then the other day, casually browsing through a new bread cookery book, I stumble upon the recipe.... It was an epiphany!
I threw myself into this new adventure and, surprise, it worked and was not that hard either. As a result we've just had a crumpets-weekend!
Ingredients - makes about 16-18 crumpets
450g plain flour
600ml milk and water mixed
2 tsp salt
2 tbs sunflower oil
1 tbs sugar
7g dry yeast (or 15g fresh yeast)
2.5 tsp baking soda
120ml warm water
You will need 3-4 steel pastry rings of about 8-10cm diameter.
Prepare the batter by sifting the flour and salt in a bowl. Warm up the milk and water and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the oil and sugar then pour onto a well in the flour. Whisk well for 5 minutes, until the batter turns very smooth. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for 45' in a warm environment (I put the bowl on a wooden bread board resting on a radiator, it works well).
Dissolve the baking soda into the warm water and add to the batter mixing well. Cover again and leave it to rise for another 30'.
Lightly grease a non stick, heavy bottomed frying pan using a piece of kitchen towel dipped into sunflower oil. Grease the pastry rings too. I find butter works best for these.
Heat up the pan into which you will have placed the pastry rings. As soon as the latter become a bit too hot to touch, pour a ladle of batter into each of them. The batter should come 1/2 inch up the side of the rings. Cook for about 10' over medium-low heat. After a while, you'll start seeing the classical bubbles forming. When the top of the crumpets look dry, ease out of the rings, turn around and cook for a further 2' on the other side.
Wipe clean pan and pastry rings and repeat the process untill you've used up all of the batter.
Pile them up on a cake grid to cool. They'll keep for 3-4 days if stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Or you could freeze, of course.
Note: if you are not getting enough bubbles, just add some more water to the batter before cooking the next batches.