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English muffins and crumpets: an (almost) shared recipe

english muffin loves crumpet

Many questions have plagued humankind for eons:

  • Are we alone in the universe?
  • Does god exist?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is the difference between English muffins and crumpets?

Well folks, after a day of research and experimentation, I have the answer to one of those. No, not the first three - I took the tough one: English muffins v. crumpets.

One might wonder how dull my day was to spend it hunting down the answer to such a  question, and one might be right. In my defense, however, that's not what I started out to do...

I have been wanting a good English muffin recipe of my very own, preferably one that did not rely on sourdough starter. My recent move has reminded me that starters are living things, meaning they can also be dying things, which has been the nature of my starters recently. Horrible, rancid, septic death. I have built and nurtured two starters since the move and have watched both of them succumb, the first to inattention when it was hidden behind a still-packed box in the critical early days and the latter to some unfathomable disturbance in the ethers. It went from seemingly thriving to pink bubbles in about 36 hours. I think I have a handle on why but it doesn't help the lack of viable sourdough, which I now need to recreate from scratch.

Inside of English muffins As I usually do when I want a new recipe, I clicked around the tubes of the interwebs a bit to see what all of the other bloggers were doing. My first stop was obvious: Becks & Posh Sam is my go-to-grrrl for all things British and I figured that if she had made any Home made English muffins, they would be good. I checked and oh yes, she had. Using Barbara's English muffin recipe, a dough that holds its shape without rings or other support while rising and cooking.

Bite it.Knowing from experience that there is a fine balance between dough that is dry enough to handle and wet enough to have all those great nooks and crannies - English muffins being the only food I know of where people want nooks, let alone crannies - I thought of Kevin's no-knead English Muffins, which were wet enough to require rising in the muffin rings. Nice idea, but unlike Kevin I don't have enough muffin rings. Hmmmmmm.

I noticed that, mixed in with the English muffins in my search results, were crumpets. Lots of crumpets. Close but no muffin. Of course, an English muffin isn't a muffin either and I hear the Brits call 'regular' muffins "American muffins" - confused yet? Me too!

The Cake Baker explains the difference between Crumpets, Pikelets and English Muffins (and Scotch Pancakes) which is very helpful, until I noticed that everything I thought I had figured out was contradicted by some other site. Another site, that I, sadly, can no longer recall, proclaimed that English muffins never use milk, while crumpets always do. Something about the gummy texture of crumpets. It made sense at the time and it was said with great authority. Who am I to argue?

Nic at Baking Bites made English muffins that were a batter and cooked them without rings. But they have milk. I thought milk meant crumpets!

English muffin batter But those crumpet recipes that kept cropping up...there might just be something there. Curious as to the difference between them and English muffins, I scanned a few recipes. Batter. Baking soda. Bubbles that come through to the top of the bread while it cooks. Hmmmmmm.

In the end, that's where I went. Batter. No baking soda. Bubbles that create nooks and crannies. it's not perfect but it's a darned good start. There is also a crumpet variation, with baking soda, of course. If you are feeling daring, you can make half a batch of English muffins and then modify them for crumpets for the rest - I did!

In the process, I discovered the answer to the eternal question, the difference between English muffins and crumpets: Baking soda, metal muffin rings and a flip.

English muffins and/or crumpets

Base:

warm water, 1 1/2 cups
yeast, 2 tsp
bread flour, 2 cups
sugar, 1 tsp

Mix well, cover and set aside for 2-12 hours (longer is better).

The next day, do one of the two following, depending on whether you want English Muffins or crumpets:

English Muffins add:
flour, 1 cup
salt, 2 1/2 tsp
Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.

Crumpets in rings Crumpets add:
flour, 1 cup
baking soda, 3/4 tsp
salt, 2 1/2 tsp
water, ~2/3 cup
Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.


Cooking for the two is similar, and fairly simple, although getting the exact right heat setting can be a bit tricky. I would recommend testing your setup by cooking one English muffin/crumpet and making sure it is hot enough to cook but not so hot that it begins to scorch.

English Muffins
Heat skillet over med heat (just a bit cooler than you would use for pancakes) for several minutes so it is good and hot. If the pan is not non-stick, add a smidge of butter so things won't stick. Place muffin rings, cookie cutters, or whatever you are using to shape the English muffins on the hot pan and fill each of them about 2/3 of the way with batter.

Cook on the first side for ~5 minutes, until you see bubbles starting to come through the top and the bottom is somewhat browned. Flip and cook for about 2 minutes, then remove the ring and continue cooking until the other side is browned.

English muffins and crumpets cooling Crumpets
Heat skillet over med heat (just a bit cooler than you would use for pancakes) for several minutes so it is good and hot. If the pan is not non-stick, add a smidge of butter so things won't stick. Place METAL muffin rings, cookie cutters, etc on the cold pan so they heat up too. Fill each of them about 2/3 of the way with batter and let them cook until the tops of the crumpets are dry, with no wet batter showing on the top. Leave the rings on until the crumpets are done cooking.

English muffin set on flickr

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