Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Whole Wheat Crumpets

When I and my good girlfriends worked downtown, we would often meet to have lunch or tea at The Crumpet Shop in Pike Place Market. I usually had ham and egg on crumpet and it made a tasty lunch. But I haven't worked downtown for years, so if I want crumpets, I have to make them myself. Frankly, the urge didn't come upon me particularly often. I've made crumpets a few times using the King Arthur Flour recipe, but I was never totally satisfied with it.

Well, someone on my baking group posted a beautiful photo of her homemade crumpets and I was inspired. She told me she used the Paul Hollywood crumpet recipe and I had to give it a go. I nearly followed the recipe as-written except that instead of using strong white flour, I used strong (hard red) home-milled wheat flour, from which I sifted out some of the bran. I also used the stand mixer to do the beating for me, but you could do it by hand. The Hollywood recipe is a bit fiddly because of the two leaveners added at separate times and the two rest periods, but the results are well worth it! They were far better than the King Arthur ones and, I dare say, better than Crumpet Shop's (though that could be due to their freshness). The children and I were having a "moment" yesterday afternoon, but after we ate our crumpets slathered in butter, homemade nectarine freezer jam and honey (we're big on doing halvsies in our house), suddenly our moods were dramatically better.

Today's challenge was to see if I could make the crumpets using all home-milled whole wheat\ flour. I opted to use half soft wheat berries and half hard wheat berries. I sifted out the (biggest particles of) bran and ended up with 11.5 oz flour, which worked great because I find I need more liquid in a recipe when I use whole wheat flour. The yeast easily did its job and they were no less light and delicious than the other kind, though of course they're darker and taste more, well, wheaty.

I had a problem getting the crumpets out of the rings both times, definitely worse with the whole wheat batch, but that's a small price to pay. Still not sure why Hollywood has you turn the crumpets in their rings instead of removing the rings before the flip--adding the amount of batter to each ring that he suggests didn't give me a crumpet tall enough to reach the griddle if I flipped it in its ring. I tended to flip the crumpets then remove the rings (with difficulty) so the second surface could reach the griddle. I cooked on a cast iron griddle and I find that long, slow preheating is key.

Next time I'll be doubling the batch and hoping that means we manage to freeze some, but I'm not too optimistic...

Revelation in May 2017 is that there are two secrets to very bubbly crumpets: add quite a bit of extra water to compensate for the extra absorption of whole grain flour (I've long since given up sifting out any bran!) and only add a smallish scoop of batter to the ring so it can freely rise and cook through.

6 oz (175g) soft wheat berries or whole wheat pastry flour
6 oz (175g) hard wheat berries or whole wheat bread flour
14g instant yeast (or two packets or 4 1/2 tsp)
12 fl oz warm milk
1 tsp sugar
10 oz  warm water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Oil for the crumpet rings and griddle

  1.  Mill the flours and add to the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the flours and yeast together
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk. My milk was just over 100 degrees, but you have more leeway when using instant yeast and mixing it with the flour first so as long as you're under 140 you should be ok
  3. Pour the milk into the flours and stir in a bit so it doesn't slosh everywhere
  4. Beat on low to medium for up to three minutes until you get a very smooth batter
  5. Cover and let rise 40-60 minutes. I found Hollywood's tip that the dough should rise and then start to fall super helpful. I err on the long side of rising time because the whole wheat dough does take longer
  6. Stir down the dough, then dissolve the salt and baking soda in the warm water. Add the water to the dough and again stir a bit by hand to avoid sloshing. Mix until well blended. Another helpful Hollywood tip is that the batter should be the consistency of double cream. I thought my batter reached that texture, but it was also very springy--my gluten strands were strong. Don't be afraid to add more water as you will definitely get better bubbles with a thinner batter
  7. Cover and let sit 20 minutes. While the batter sits, heat a cast iron griddle on medium-low so it has a nice long time to distribute the heat
  8. After the final rest, grease the griddle and 4-6 crumpet rings (my griddle fits 6). Turn up the heat to a bit higher than medium (I do 5.5 or 6 out of 9)
  9. Fill each ring until it's about 1/2 full  if you want crumpets tall enough to split. My size 16 portion scoop worked perfectly
  10. Cook until the top is set and you're seeing lots of bubbles. I find that my crumpets need a LONG time to cook, up to ten minutes a side. This is not consistent with Hollywood's recipe but is what I've found all the times I've made crumpets
  11. Either remove the rings before or after flipping and cook just a few minutes on the second side. Despite the greasing, I always need to use a knife to get the crumpets out and it is irritating (just think of that warm crumpet dripping with butter to regain your will)
  12. Serve warm or if you're managed not to eat them all at once, toast (splitting optional) before serving

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