What makes a crumpet a crumpet?
Do you know the difference between a crumpet and an English muffin? And what exactly are pikelets? British Corner Shop provides the definitive guide to these traditional British tea-time treats.
Everybody loves a crumpet. They are a delectable mid-afternoon treat, bestowing infinite pleasure and enjoyment, particularly when lightly toasted and smothered in butter. But despite their popularity, there is continual confusion over what actually makes a crumpet a crumpet. And what is the difference between a crumpet and an English muffins, or pikelet?
What makes a crumpet a crumpet?
Let’s start with the difference between crumpets and English muffins. A quick internet search reveals lots of different opinions, but what they all agree on is that they are two entirely different creatures. First of all, they are both yeast based recipes. Cooked on the stove top in a griddle pan or frying pan, both have a soft, spongy texture that is delicious toasted and perfect for absorbing a wide variety of toppings. But that, I’m afraid, is where the similarities end.
When it comes down to it, what makes a crumpet a crumpet are the small holes which adorn the top. While these holes have proved surprisingly elusive to many wannabe crumpet cooks, they are without doubt the defining characteristic of the crumpet, and what sets it apart from its cousin, the English muffin. Rings are used while cooking to contain the crumpet batter and to create their smooth round shape. Crumpets are cooked on only one side, to allow the bubbles to emerge through the butter, and this is why they have small holes on top. With a smooth flat bottom, a crumpet must never, ever be split in half. While the small holes and spongy texture do lend the crumpet towards a good coating of butter, you can also enjoy them topped with cheese, bacon, honey or jam. Personally, I enjoy mine with too much butter and a little Marmite, but each to their own.
English muffins, unlike crumpets, are made with dough rather than a batter. More like flat bread rolls, English muffins, rather confusingly, were actually invented in the United States by an English immigrant who based his recipe on a popular bread product that was sold door-to-door in Victorian Britain. Much more ‘bready’ than their counterpart, English muffins are cooked on both sides and then split before serving. Usually served with poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and either ham or smoked salmon, although there are plenty of other toppings, English muffins have now become the cornerstone of any decent brunch menu.
Pikelets are kind of like crumpets, except where crumpets call for fussy rings to help them keep their shape while they cook, pikelets can be made with simply a frying pan. Dubbed ‘flat crumpets’, pikelets are a regional variation, originating from Wales and then spreading to the West Midlands and further north. Cooked without a ring, with a much flatter and thinner end result, these are wonderfully easy to make and not unlike drop scones.
But regardless of which variation you prefer, they all serve as delicious tea time treats. While you can make your own, it’s a tricky business cooking particular crumpets and English muffins, so here at the British Corner Shop we’ve got you covered. And did you know our Warburtons Crumpets are one of our best-sellers?
All you need to do is to make sure you’ve got plenty of butter to do them justice.
Any crumpet or English muffin connoisseurs out there? Do you have a favourite, and would you eat yours sweet or savoury?