Putting this post up is like handing around those shocking kiddie photos of you. When you were about seven. Had no front teeth. Wore velvet leopard print long sleeve tops and purple flared jeans. 100% cringe-worthy material. But you’ve got to own it – it’s your past. Hence why I’ve finally mustered the courage to post this particular one; dodgy writing and shocking photographs to boot (circa July 2013). If anything I’d hope it shows progress. That I’ve finally learnt one very simply lesson in photography and styling: a) don’t take photographs at night (unless it’s summer and the lighting is still reasonable outside) – natural light is best b) don’t put food that is one colour on a tea-towel of a similar colour against the wall of the same colour. It. Doesn’t. Work. Don’t kid yourself. Well, there’s nothing left for it: go ahead and have a gander at a ‘baby photo/journal entry’ of tastewithoutwaste. Completely unaltered. You’ve been warned. I also, *small embarrassed cough, might or might not have been rather unwell over the last five days. Perhaps for the reasons stated below. Seems some things you never learn.
When I come down with the flu I’m not particularly good at taking care of myself. The reason? I hate admitting that I’m sick. It feels as though I’m giving in – and maybe if I deny that I’m sick, it will come true. Consequently, I keep powering on, refusing to rest (rest, what is rest?!) until I eventually completely succumb to the bug and collapse in a messy, snotty, sniveling heap. It’s not particularly smart is it? I did exactly that at Oxford and ended up spending most of my last week there curled up in bed watching River Cottage re-runs (laugh all you want, River Cottage is the bees knees). I was also that person on the plane who coughs and splutters and sounds as though they might actually cark it for the entire flight. The one who everyone hopes to god they don’t have to sit next to. To those passengers flying from London to Sydney on December 2nd 2012, I’m so very sorry. I didn’t mean to pass the flu onto you. Really. You’d think I’d have learned from that last experience. Well I haven’t. My brain doesn’t seem to compute with the fact that being ill equates with needing to rest, to relax, to take time off. That brings us to this week. After being coerced into visiting the doctor, the upshot is that I’m meant to “rest lots, lay back on the exercise and eat more than usual”. Now I’m all down with the last point – an excuse to eat more? Fantastic. But the other two I’m not so happy about. It’s bloody hard work doing nothing.
Maybe I’m hardwired to be hyperactive, but even if it’s on doctors orders I feel guilty reading/watching a film/being a couch potato when I know that there are other things that are calling out to be done. Like assignments, uni applications and going for a run. Yup I actually find it ridiculously hard to be lazy. There, I said it. Weird, but true. Thankfully I’ve reached some sort of compromise. Baking. Nothing strenuous of course! It allows for productivity on some level (though admittedly we don’t need the extra food, the freezer and cookie tin are already full to bursting) without in the doctors terms, ‘overexerting’. Any-who comfort food is always a good thing when you’re feel as though you’ve got your head up a dead bears bum. Like crumpets. They take me back to wintery Saturday mornings as a gawky pre-teen spent curled up by the fire with a book and a hot crumpet, just oozing with jamminess. Home-made of course. Perhaps making a batch of these will nudge me in the right direction of resting. If not, at least we have crumpets!
I’d always been of the opinion that crumpets would be impossible to make. Surely only a machine could produce those holes? And how on earth do you create a base that goes crunch when toasted yet the top remains soft? As it turns out it’s just a matter of alchemy. Some yeast, the right temperature and patience. No bubbles? A splash more milk remedies that hiccup, coaxing the bubbles to form. Don’t ask me how. It just does. Even with the extra milk, the holes are nowhere near as pronounced as those on commercial crumpets. However, these homemade ones taste just as good and are free from all of those nasty preservatives!
Eat them hot, straight from the pan with lashings of butter and honey/jam, or pop em in the fridge toast later on (they’ll keep for a few days. Try for breakfast or lunch grilled with cheese or topped with a poached egg. Alternatively, bag up and freeze for consumption later down the track. That’s if you have any left…you’ll have to excuse me while I finish my cuppa and warm, buttery crumpet. Doctors orders, right?
Makes 25 – 30 if using egg rings, less if using proper crumpet rings.
750ml milk, plus extra
1 tsp caster sugar
7g dry yeast
30g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g plain flour
250g whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
Warm the milk so that when you stick your finger in it (clean of course!), it feels the same temperature. Transfer 2 tbsp to a small bowl/cup and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the sugar and butter to the remaining milk and stir until the sugar dissolves and the butter has melted.
In a large bowl combine the flours and salt. Gradually pour in the milk-butter mixture, stirring gently to combine. Now stir through the yeast mixture until it is a thick batter with no remaining lumps.
Cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place (I turn my oven to 100C very briefly, then turn it off and put the bowl in). After an hour check the mixture. If it has risen well and is bubbly, transfer to a jug. If not, leave for another 20 to 30 minutes and check again.
Grease your egg/crumpet rings and a large heavy-based frying pan. Place the pan over a medium-low heat (if it’s too low, bubbles won’t form) and pour mixture into the egg rings. If the mixture isn’t a pouring consistency, stir through a little extra milk. The batter will rise while cooking, so only fill about 2/3 of the way. Cook for approximately 6 minutes (check to ensure that the bottoms aren’t browning too much) or until the top is starting to dry out and develops a few holes. Carefully, remove the egg rings (try not to burn your fingers) and flip with a spatula. Cook for another 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
Re-grease the egg rings, and continue the process until all batter is used.
*Note: I would recommend doing a test run with just one for a start to ensure that bubbles do form. If they don’t stir through a little more milk and try again. If they still refuse to form, don’t fret, the crumpets should still taste fine!
Source: Slightly adapted from Mathew Evans: The Weekend Cook.