Monday, February 18, 2013

What Not to Do: Adventures in Sourdough Crumpets

So remember when I said crumpets were so easy? Well, it turns out, it's still pretty easy to make mistakes. So here are some tips from my recent experience:
  • Don't use baking powder instead of baking soda in the recipe. I decided I had the recipe memorized, so I made this accidental switch. What I realized is two things 1) baking powder does not cause rising nearly as quickly as baking soda, so the crumpets burn before they rise properly and 2) if you're using really sour starter (like I was), it makes much more sour crumpets. Baking soda, on the other hand, is activated by acidity, and so it counteracts a little bit of the sour flavor and rises quite quickly.
  • Don't use a mild sweetner like non-diastatic malt powder-- use a real serious sweetener like honey, agave, or sugar, especially when counteracting a very sour batch of starter.
  • I also found that the 100% whole wheat crumpets were less sour than my 25% whole wheat crumpets. This may be because of the origin of my starters: my white starter is from Portland, while my whole wheat starter is a hybrid between Portland and my current locality I accidentally used up the end of my Portland whole wheat one day, but the white can easily be changed into whole wheat.
After my tips, I thought I would reiterate my crumpet recipe. Fortunately, I had a ton of sourdough starter left, so I was able to make another batch correctly:
  • 270g sourdough starter, 125% hydration or 100% hydration + water or nonfat milk (I used whole wheat, but you can use white or a mix)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (you can add another half a tablespoon if your starter is really sour.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan and rings
Note: you don't have to use crumpet rings, but I tried this and the crumpets really don't look much like crumpets. I don't have crumpet rings, I have some kind of egg rings for making breakfast sandwiches or something. They seem to work fine. When I made yeasted crumpets in college I used a can with both the top and bottom cut off of it. This works too.
  • Mis the starter, honey, and salt together. Stir. Let the starter begin to bubble on it's own.
  • Grease the pan and the rings and then heat them to medium. Be very careful with temperature. It is easy to burn the bottom of the crumpets if you're not careful, so be ready to regulate.
  • Then add the baking soda to the batter and mix. It should begin to bubble quite quickly.
  • When hot, fill each ring with batter so that you can see half a centimeter of ring over the top. They will puff up.
  • Then, wait until they bubble. When you see that the edges are cooked, extract them from the rings and flip them over.
  • Wait until they finished cooking (there should be some brown among the bubble as shown in the picture at the top), take them off, and repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  • Crumpets can be eaten hot plain or with butter, jam, almond butter, etc. After fully cooled, they can be saved in an airtight container for a few days and toasted or frozen in an airtight container (preferably a baggie) and then toasted.
Delicious crumpet

I took a picture of the crumb:
Mostly White Crumpet Crumb

Whole Wheat Crumpet Crumb
The crumb of the white crumpets was slightly less moist and had larger holes for a slightly lighter crumpet. The whole wheat one was more moist

Sourdough griddle cakes are a lot of fun-- I want to try sopapillas soon.


  1. It's so funny that you posted crumpets today---I tried them the other day to go with my blood orange curd and they ended up like a cross between a crumpet and an English muffin. I think my batter was a little on the thick side. I loved them, but I used regular bread flour, nothing fancy. I really liked the texture and I'm going to make more soon. I tried to make rings from empty tuna cans, but they're making cans differently now, you can't take off one of the sides with a regular can opener. Weird.

    1. I notice the thing about the tuna cans, too. It's a real shame.

      The batter was probably too thick to allow the bubbles to come up. To fix that you should add more water and switch from bread flour to unbleached all-purpose flour. I bet they were delicious! I made crumpets like that once and I had to cut them in half as well because they ended up like English muffins, but now I know how to fix the problem.