Cracking Crumpets

January 19, 2010



Me and crumpets have got history. My first attempt was a complete failure; the batter was wrong, the cooking was wrong, the finished product was wronger than wrong. I ended up with a pile of stodgy, under cooked discs, which lacked that most distinguishing and important of crumpet features – holes. If they don’t have holes then the butter can’t get in. Enough said.

My second attempt was more promising, mostly down to the good advice of Bea, who suggested I use a different recipe and make a couple of tweaks. The batter this time was spectacularly gaseous and I was effervescent with excitement. The bubbles in the batter rise to the top during cooking and burst, leaving that essential network of butter channels. I thought I’d nailed it. Well, I thought Bea had nailed it.

They did produce some holes – an improvement on the first attempt, but still not good enough. Bea was flummoxed and I was inconsolable until some helpful soul ventured to ask the rather personal question, “how old is your bicarbonate of soda?” I hung my head in shame and squeaked out the admission: “don’t really know; at least two years, probably three, maybe four.”

That was back in July. Despite being certain that this embarrassing discovery marked the end of my crumpet woes, I just couldn’t face making them again until now. The thought of a third failure too traumatic perhaps? Well, it almost happened again; I forgot to put the bicarb in. I honestly couldn’t believe what was happening, but through the mist of disappointment and dizzying fog of frustration I just slung it in half an hour late, re-mixed, re-covered and hoped for the best.

And…it worked. Hallelujah! They were spongy and light, with more holes than an OJ Simpson alibi. Finally, a recipe for crumps that I can rely on, and of course I’ve learned a thing or two about making them along the way. Here it is:

1. Using rings is a right faff. You have to oil them repeatedly (until you can’t be bothered any more) and lift them up using tongs while simultaneously trying to release the crumpet with a knife. Next time I’ll freestyle.

2. Making crumpets takes time. If you try and rush them (by turning up the heat) they will burn on the bottom before they are cooked on top.

3. Keeping bicarbonate of soda for longer than two years is skanky and pointless.

4. I’ve made every single mistake in the book so you don’t have to.


This mix makes about 14 crumpets. Just think, if you remember to put your bicarb in at the right time, your crumps could have even more holes than mine! (Edit: Miss Marmite Lover has made a brilliant suggestion in the comments: she adds more bicarb than the recipe suggests. Obvious now I think about it. This is a brilliant way to get more holes).

360g plain flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
580ml warm milk
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Combine the yeast and sugar with 250ml of the warm milk in a bowl. Do make sure the milk is just warm, not hot. Cover and leave in a warm place to rest for about 10 minutes until frothy.

Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into another bowl then make a well in the centre and add the yeasty mix along with the rest of the warm milk. Mix this to a thick batter using a wooden spoon. Cover it with cling film and allow to rest in a warm place for about an hour. The film will rise up as gases build up inside. This is good. The result is an extremely light and aerated batter.

Heat a wide pan over a medium heat then turn down fairly low. Use a piece of kitchen paper to wipe vegetable or groundnut oil over the base so it is coated in a nice film. Do the same to your rings if using or you can freestyle (i.e drop blobs of batter into the pan). Allow to cook for about 8 minutes or so or until they appear ‘dry’ on top, then flip them over to toast lightly for a minute on the other side. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Repeat as necessary. They can then be re-heated under a grill to crisp up more before serving. Spread liberally with butter and then rejoice in their holey juiciness.

A huge thank you once again to Bea. Without your advice I may never have lifted myself from the depths of crumpy despair.

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    Reply Chris January 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Ooooh yeaaaah. They look goooood.

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    Reply Ollie January 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    BRAVO! What a well-deserved triumph these look. If at first you don’t succeed…

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    Reply James January 19, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Wow – you’ve made it at last. Well done!

    Can I have syrup on mine pls?

    Patience is a virtue…..

  • Reply Tweets that mention Cracking Crumpets — Food Stories -- January 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FoodStories, Chris. Chris said: RT @FoodStories: New blog post: Cracking Crumpets I did it! I finally did it! […]

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    Reply Michelle January 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I have made crumpets a couple of times, absolute heaven (recipe is on the blog, also took a couple of tweaks to get it to work)! Home made crumpets are nothing at all like the weird shop ones. Yours look lovely, perfectly holey!

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    Reply Lynne January 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Now when I made mine last year they were not holey enough for me either. I used Elizabeth David’s recipe from English Bread Cookery, and she puts the bicarb in right at the end just before baking.

    So maybe you got it nearer to right than you think?

    or maybe I’d have got more holes if I had put it in at the beginning? (nice fresh bicarb btw, so not that problem…)

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    Reply Helen January 19, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Chris – Crumpety crumpety crumpety gooooodnesssssss. One of the finest vehicles for butter every invented.

    Ollie – Thank you! I will not be beaten.

    James – You can have whatever you like on em. I’m rather a purist myself. Even jam is a stretch too far (boyfriend’s jammy crumps pictured).

    Michelle – I will check out your recipe, thanks. They are totally different, agreed. The improvement is staggering.

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    Reply meemalee January 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Superb! I love your “lessons I have learned” as well!

    The other day, I found some square crumpets in the supermarket. They were somehow more exciting than the normal ones. Anyway, my point is – freestyling the shape is a good thing 🙂

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    Reply Helen January 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Jo – Oh God. I’m going to have to make them again…

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    Reply Sophie January 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I am DROOLING!

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    Reply Helen January 19, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    ooops keep missing replies! Meemalee – Yes I think freestyling is the way forward! It certainly saves hassle and who wants neat and tidy anyway? Blobs are the new circles.

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    Reply Lizzie January 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Is that an obscene amount of marmite, or a dark berry jam?

    Well done for persevering! I am making these soon. But if you don’t use a ring, how will they stay round…?

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    Reply Helen January 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Lizzie – Ha ha! You know I love Marmite but not that much…

    It is Chris’s mum’s wild blackberry jam – a Christmas present. It is amazing. She sure is an awesome jam maker. If you don’t use rings, then they won’t stay round! They sort of spread out into blobs. I freestyled batch number two. They taste the same, of course.

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    Reply Sarah, Maison Cupcake January 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Such glossy butter! They look wonderful. I’ve never made them but heard it’s fraught with difficulty and been scared off.

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    Reply Eating Melbourne January 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Oh yum! These look fab. I’ve always wanted to make crumpets, I might have a crack at these on the weekend!

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    Reply shayma January 19, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    so what kind of jam is it? it looks GORGEOUS. the crumpets look really great, Helen. e brava. and yes, next time i use smthg i have had in my pantry for ages (flour, sugar or butter in the fridge) i shall say: skanky indeed.
    ‘holey’ moly (forgive my corniness, but you started it, with ‘holey juiciness’!).
    jokes aside, those crumpets look great, helen.
    x shayma

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    Reply The Graphic Foodie January 19, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Yay! Well done they look amazing. May have to look at the date on my bicarb though – think I may be one of those skanky people… This post has given me hope for meringue making – have had a series of total disasters.

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    Reply Jones January 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Never made them myself but I’ve had homemade ones before and they were fantastic, so different to what you buy in the shops. I’m so making these very soon, going to buy some expensive butter especially to go on them! And a new tub of bicarb as well, of course.

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    Reply bellini valli January 20, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Crumpets are my absolute favouriet and now that you have mastered them you have to try the Australian way with fruit such as blueberries in them…so good!!!!!

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    Reply msmarmitelover January 20, 2010 at 1:22 am

    I also found that using more bicarb than the recipe I used suggested, produced more holes…and yes cooking them slowly is the trick…I wait quite a while before turning them over. I cook them on the cooler ring of the Aga.
    I buttered the rings with a brush, the crumpets shrank within the rings, making it easy to lift the ring off. However yes another hand would be useful..

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    Reply Sarah January 20, 2010 at 4:59 am

    I have always wanted to make crumpets, but have put off buying the rings. Now you say I don’t have to? Hurrah!

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    Reply Jan January 20, 2010 at 7:44 am

    These look fabulous. Well done.

    Did the butter drip down your chin when you bit into them? 🙂

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    Reply Billy January 20, 2010 at 8:14 am

    I’ve run away from making these before, but am feeling inspired now so may have to go and pick up some new bicarb (as mine’s of similar age…) this weekend.

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    Reply Helen January 20, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Sarah – Yes they do look very glossy don’t they. Probably due to the obscene amount of butter I put on them! Don’t be scared off, this recipe works I promise.

    Eating Melbourne – Do! I’d love to see how they turn out. I think MML’s idea of using more bicarb is also excellent.

    Shayma – Thank you. The jam is wild blackberry, a Christmas pressie from my boyfriend’s mum who makes the most amazing jams!

    The Graphic Foodie – I know! I never even thought about it before. I clearly don’t do enough baking. Meringues are a tricksy one in themselves though, perhaps do a post about it so people can give tips? That’s what I always do!

    Jones – YES! Loving the idea of the expensive butter. Show those crumps the love they deserve!

    Bellini Valli – I am always open to new crumpety adventures so I will give your crazy Aussie fruit crumps a try 😉

    MML – The idea of using more bicarb is obvious now you say it. Brilliant. I’ll definitely do that next time.

    Sarah – Well no, not unless you want perfectly round crumpets! I mean they will look weird, but taste the same. You could always use pastry cutters or something as a substitute.

    Jan – Oh yes.

    Billy – Ha ha, I love how everyone else has the same old pot of bicarb in the cupboard. Don’t throw it out though, good for cleaning the fridge apparently! Then again, who wants to be cleaning the fridge when there are crumpets to be made.

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    Reply Alex January 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Awesome. Just one slight thing – more butter. You can never have enough butter on a toasted crumpet.

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    Reply Gourmet Chick January 20, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Yay – well done you did it – we have shared the lows and now glory in your triumph over the humble crumpet Helen!

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    Reply Greedy Diva January 20, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Crumpets, pancakes, pikelets – I can’t get enough of them this winter. I like my crumpets with Vegemite (or Marmite) which can be controversial. These ones look superb!

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    Reply The London Foodie January 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Loved to read of your quest to nail the perfect crumpet recipe, well done. They look utterly delicious. I read another posting about crumpets this week in Neil’s site Lambashank Redemption, though it was quite amusing too.

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    Reply Kerri January 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I really admire your persistence, I get so disheartened if things go wrong the first time and almost always give up after the second. They look brilliant though so it was clearly worth it!

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    Reply Sharmila January 21, 2010 at 10:02 am

    These look fab. I love crumpets, and think I’m now going to attempt them this weekend.

    This may sound mega freakish, but one of my favourite ways of eating them is with a South Indian spice powder (not sure what it’s made of, but it’s usually called gunpowder), mixed with sesame oil. Butter the crumpets and then dip them in the oily spice powder. Sounds wrong, it’s so so right.

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    Reply Helen January 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Alex – I will endeavour to get EVEN MORE BUTTER on my crumpets in future.

    Gourmet Chick – Thank you! I did it!

    Greedy Diva – yeah I love Marmite on them too. Only occasionally though. Mostly I just have butter and save the Marmite for toast or soldiers. So many options, so little time…

    The London Foodie – yeah I saw Neil’s post too. I think I made some moany comment about not having made successful crumpets!

    Kerri – You must! Go forth and create!

    Sharmila – Brilliant! You MUST blog it so I can see your gunpowder!!

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    Reply ruth_dt January 21, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I made these yesterday after seeing your post, and I have two thoughts for you:

    1. If you don’t use rings, you get pikelets. They are very nice, but definitely not crumpets.

    2. Silicone rings rock! I didn’t have to regrease mine once.

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    Reply Helen January 21, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Hello ruth_dt – pikelets! I had to google them! I didn’t realise that they were flat crumpets – thanks very much for the info. Silicone rings are also genius. I must admit the rings I used are not crumpet rings at all, they are just presentation rings that I used as a substitute so I’m not surprised I had trouble. I love how they are making everything out of silicon these days – what did we do before the silicon pastry brush?! We got eggy glued together brushes that’s what, and we spent ages picking stray bristles off our pies. Thanks for your comment – very useful!

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    Reply Ailsa January 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Those look fantastic! I bought a ring-thingy specifically for making crumpets but have not yet done it. And I hate to think how old my bicarb is so glad I read this before I attempted it.

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    Reply Foodbridge January 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    thanks for not giving up. I completely know how you feel about holeless crumpets. I am still trying to make a crumpet like bread- a Yemenite bread which also has distinguishing holes. I made them with holes once and since then they refuse to appear- I tried twice already. Perhaps I will give it another try.

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    Reply The Grubworm January 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve always wondered just how crumpets got that lovely rubbery, holey texture that soaks up butter so well. Will be off to try them (checking my bicarb first) as soon as I can. One thing, if you freestyle without rings, do they still get that depth?

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    Reply Helen January 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Ailsa – Ha ha, yes I was very embarrassed! I just thought it lasted forever.

    Foodbridge – Well that bread sounds very interesting! What is it called? Do give the crumpets another try – this recipe definitely works. I would suggest adding a bit more bicarb too as miss marmite lover suggested.

    The Grubworm – Well they do spread out, obviously but they do still keep some depth, yes. Here’s one of my earlier attempts

    They don’t have enough holes obviously but I’m just showing you so you can get an idea of what the shape is like. They don’t look anything like traditional crumpets though and according to ruth_dt above, they are therefore pikelets! I also really like her suggestion of using silicon rings, if you feel inclined to buy some.

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen January 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I am so thrilled for you, Helen! I know you have been waiting a long time for this day to come! And this needs to be framed somewhere in everyone’s kitchen: “Keeping bicarbonate of soda for longer than two years is skanky and pointless.”

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    Reply ginandcrumpets January 21, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I was going to ask if that was industrial quantities of Marmite as well! They look great and I’m inspired to eat a buttery crumpet topped with lashings of golden syrup. So messy and so good.

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    Reply LexEat January 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I remember thinking your last attempt was pretty impressive, but these are brilliant!

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    Reply Kitchen Butterfly January 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    You will never walk alone!!!!! Ehst – homemade crumpets?????????? WOW. Sold on you….sold, sold, sold.

    Why not send this on to Yeastspotting –

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    Reply The Ginger Gourmand January 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Well done! A remarkable achievement (of which I am fairly envious…)!

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    Reply Johanna January 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    those crumpets look amazingly good – makes me think it is time to replace my old bicarb – but honestly it still cleans up quite well with a bit of vinegar though I am amazed any of my baking rises

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    Reply Helen January 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Jenn – ha ha! Maybe I will frame it myself, just so I don’t forget.

    Ginandcrumpets – Amazing colour, isn’t it? It came in a mayo jar as well so I had to e-mail to find out the flavour!

    LexEat – Thank you!

    The Ginger Gourmand – ha ha, thanks! You should give em a go.

    Johanna – well yeah that’s the thing, I never had a problem with cakes and stuff but I guess the bicarb is so important to the crumpet what with making those holes and all.

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    Reply Cynthia January 23, 2010 at 3:15 am

    You know… I’ve never had crumpets before, maybe it is time to remedy that.

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    Reply Margaret January 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    ha ha! reading this has got me so excited, I’m too excited to read it properly! Next opportunity I get, I’m going to make some crumpets, can’t wait! what am I doing tomorrow? how old is my baking powder? we’re in!!

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    Reply Helen January 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Cynthia – Never had a crumpet! You are in for a treat lady.

    Margaret – Ha ha! I am very much liking your enthusiasm…

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    Reply Foodycat January 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    This is very exciting for me. I made crumpets last month (or should I say, attempted crumpets and achieved discus) and now I feel able to have another crack at it.

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    Reply ambulance January 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Chris – Crumpet y crumpet y crumpet y goodness. One of the finest vehicles for butter every invented. They look great and I’m inspired to eat a buttery crumpet topped with lashings of golden syrup. So messy and so good.

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    Reply Helen January 31, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Foodycat – Excellent! Let me know how you get on.

    Ambulance – Sorry I just found your comment in spam so bit of a delay in publishing it. Glad to hear you need no conversion to the sinful ways of the crumpet.

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    Reply Jenny January 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Attempted these last night, tasty but a very disappointing lack of holes 🙁

    Think the problem was the fermenting stage, as nowhere in my flat is warm enough to get the yeast going! I will have to time the next attempt to coincide with the heating being on. Oh well, gives me an excuse to eat more crumpets I suppose!

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    Reply Ellie September 19, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I have heard of recipes using vinegar aswell as the ingredients you used. What do you think? I don’t want to end up with a dangerous mix….
    Search hov is crumpets and on the packet it says vinegar!, thank you!!

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      Reply Helen September 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Well I never. I’ve not tried it not have I heard of it but I say, give it a go!

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    Reply Stef September 21, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Thanks for all of your effort on this! It was MUCH appreciated it. I made them and shared on my blog and then turned them into crumpet and tea bread pudding!

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    Reply Gill February 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Look great, but how do you get the height without using rings???? My ‘freestyle’ crumpets are always a little shallower.

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      Reply Helen February 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to get any more height without using rings. Embrace the pikelets!

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    Reply diana June 27, 2016 at 2:35 am

    I’ve tried to make crumpets with several recipes and everything goes well, except……The holes that appear at first (lots) disappear and no matter how thick or thin the batter, how high or low the heat I can’t get them cooked inside. It’s just uncooked dough and 2 hard crusts outside!!!help please!!It’s impossible to get crumpets in Argentina so it’s either homemade or nothing!!!

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      Reply Helen Graves June 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Yes, that happened to me a lot too. This is the best recipe I’ve tried by far in terms of getting holes. What you need to accept though, I realised, is that you’re never going to get holes comparable to the factory-made crumpets. It just isn’t going to happen. At least, I don’t think it can. If you do ever feel motivated to try again then give this recipe a whirl and let me know what happens. You shouldn’t be denied the pleasure of crumpets!!

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    Reply Gill January 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    I’m using silicone egg Rings with the little handles and they work great….and so does your recipe! Thanks for the bicarb tip….

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