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What are Crumpets?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Crumpets are flattened round breads which are cooked on a griddle or in a skillet. They are closely associated with English society and culture, and are sometimes confused with English muffins. Although the crumpet and the English muffin share some characteristics, the two foods are in fact very different. Furthermore, because of the cultural associations with crumpets within England, many British people will not appreciate people who lump the two foods together.

Classic crumpets have a smooth round bottom, and a top riddled with small holes. They are served fresh from the griddle or toasted, and can be topped in jam or clotted cream, although butter is the traditional crumpet topping. Crumpets are never split, unlike English muffins, and they have a slightly bland flavor and spongy texture which absorbs butter remarkably well. The concept of toasting crumpets over a fire is often associated with companionable rainy days in British fiction.

For people who are still confused about the differences between crumpets and English muffins, remember that crumpets have a holey top, they are not split, and they are far less "bready" than English muffins tend to be. It is believed that the English muffin may have been invented by someone who was trying to replicate the crumpet, which explains the commonalities between the two. The recipes for English muffins and crumpets are also very different, with crumpets being made from batter and English muffins being made from a dough. Because crumpets are made from a batter, they must be cooked in metal rings called crumpet rings or they will lose their shape.

To make crumpets, combine one tablespoon of yeast with one half cup of warm water and one teaspoon of sugar. Stir together and allow to sit until foamy, approximately 10 minutes. Warm one and one half cups of milk and add them to the yeast mixture, along with one teaspoon of salt and two and one half cups of flour. Stir the batter together and allow it to sit, covered, in a warm place for about an hour. The batter should start to rise and then fall in on itself.

When the batter is ready, oil a frying pan or griddle and arrange crumpet rings on the griddle. Make sure to leave enough room to maneuver, and heat the pan on medium. Scoop batter into the crumpet rings and cook the crumpets until they set, which will take around 10 minutes. Do not be hasty when cooking crumpets, as you want the top to cook and you do not want the bottom to burn. As they cook, small bubbles will start to form in the top. Remove the crumpets from the pan when the top has cooked, or slightly before if you intend to toast them. Repeat until you have used all the batter, and serve with butter or allow the crumpets to cool before storing in an airtight container for consumption later.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon967238 — On Aug 26, 2014

Do they have English muffins in England? What do they call them there?

By anon965077 — On Aug 09, 2014

@Blackdog: You are really getting your drawers in a wad over trifles.

I fear your politics are no doubt coloring your interpretation of our recent president's language skills; definitely not unbiased there. And we do, in fact, speak English here, as do both presidents you referred to.

As for English muffins, I knew they weren't English; I thought they were crumpets. Glad to have that clarified, finally. I can't imagine eating a pancake type thing in the afternoon like that. Blueberry scones seem more appealing. I saw a show where the Prince of Wales was requesting crumpets be brought up and I just couldn't imagine having that for a snack with tea. Maybe a slice of whole grain bread and a peach and some coffee with cream or even iced black tea. Oh well. To each country his own.

By blackdog — On Oct 28, 2013

wiseGeek, as the title, and content suggests, is very obviously

an American website, run by Americans, for Americans.

My mistake was to imagine, for a moment, that here was an attempt to clarify the difference between classic English products, and what those products have become in the New World.

This sad state of affairs is very similar to the huge difference that exists between classic, age old, Italian dishes, and what they have become in Italian America.

There is a tendency, especially among TV celebrity chefs, wishing to make a name for themselves, to take classic dishes and revisit them. Their versions have little, or nothing to do with the originals, but that does not stop them from calling them by the original classic name. Why?

These travesties are then shown on popular TV cooking shows and printed in books and magazines.

Then millions of keen amateur cooks watch these shows, read the books and magazines and end up cooking something which is a pale imitation of the original, but still calling it by it's classic name.

Ignorance is bliss!!! So the saying goes!

For me personally, I make huge efforts to research and work only with classic recipes. It does not matter if it is a simple "Pot au feu facon grand mere", or a classic Brioche Mousseline by Escoffier, they deserve equal respect, love and attention, and often, several attempts to get them right.

We all have fond memories of our favorite dishes from our childhood. Some of us have been lucky enough to be taught those recipes by grandmother or mother. If we wish, through the years, to reproduce those wonderful kitchen smells and supper dishes for ourselves and for our own children, then we must find the same ingredients, and prepare them "exactly" as Grandma did. If we stray from her method in any way, the result will not be the same. Not at all the same, and we will be disappointed.

Often, it was just her little way of doing things which made a huge difference. What the French call, "Les Petites Touches".

I am not a professional chef, but I have been fortunate enough to learn from and be guided by, French Michelin star chefs in England and France, and to attend the Ecole Ritz Escoffier in Paris. Good food is a passion. Sharing it with friends and loved ones is the objective.

Good food does not have to be expensive food, and if you are going to put whatever it is, in your mouth, I suggest that it is worth taking a bit of time and trouble over, starting with the recipe, and then fresh farm produce, rather than supermarket pre-packed crap, which has been sprayed with pesticides, and all sorts of chemical preservatives and colourings, before it arrives on your plate. Why do people want to poison themselves and their kids?

All I ask, and I don't think it is asking too much, is that if you want to take a classic and change it, don't call it by it's classic name. Call it something else.

Clearly, I made a mistake when I signed on here, so I will now correct that by unregistering myself, never to darken this particular doorstep again.

By amypollick — On Oct 27, 2013

@blackdog: I think there's a confusion of terminology, here. "Muffins," in the American sense, and what are called "English muffins" here are two completely different entities.

A muffin is indeed, a little cake, something along the lines of what the English call a "fairy cake" or a cupcake. It's a quick bread, and uses baking soda, baking powder or cream of tartar. In that sense, it is quite cake-like. And they do indeed come in many different flavors.

An English muffin is a *completely* different product. It is a more bread *like* product and is also cooked on a griddle. It is also more like a pancake, although thicker. Alton Brown has an excellent recipe for them. These are generally plain. I used the bread reference in my first post since the dough/batter often includes yeast. But you're right: an English muffin batter is more like a pancake batter than a true dough. I never said it was English, either. That's just the term.

We're also talking about two different things when we're talking about sponge cake. I was thinking about a cake that does get a lot of its volume from folded in egg whites. Research on this topic says this is the case. It is one *kind* of sponge cake. The kind of sponge cake I had on my mind is the kind very popular around Passover, since it is not leavened with yeast, and can often be made with matzoh flour, instead of wheat flour. There are, obviously, different kinds.

I was *not* thinking about a souffle, or a meringue. As I said, I bake quite a bit and I know the difference. Although, come to think of it, there are several different things that take the name of "meringue" and there are French, Italian and Swiss versions, depending on the result you're looking for.

I've seen and heard English absolutely murdered on both sides of the Atlantic, by the way.

And you know, I said I don't live in the UK and have, unfortunately, never had the pleasure of visiting there, although I would love to. It's a beautiful country, and so rich with history. I know people who have visited there and were very impressed by the lovely people and the warm British hospitality.

By blackdog — On Oct 27, 2013

@amypollick: In England, traditional muffins are, and always have been, made from slightly sweetened bread dough. Again, bakers in London sweetened left over bread dough and sold it in the streets, during the afternoons, so it would not be wasted.

There is no such thing as an English muffin in England. English muffins only exist in the confused minds of certain Americans.

I suggest that you Google images for, let's call them "American" muffins, or just muffins, and you will see muffins of every conceivable color and flavor.

I can assure you that they are made with a cake type preparation, with eggs, butter, sugar, baking powder, plain flour, or self-raising flour, milk, yogurt, plus a variety of spices, fruits and flavorings. So, your version of muffins are not made with any sort of bread dough.

Bread dough, in England and France, is basically, strong white flour, or a wholewheat flour, with the addition of salt, yeast and water.

A crumpet is not any type of bread dough. It is a batter with yeast in it which closely resembles a pancake batter.

A sponge cake does absolutely not get its volume from whipped egg whites. Meringues and souffles get their volume from whipped egg whites.

Depending on which type of sponge cake you are making, they get their volume and lightness from one of two methods: By beating very soft butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually adding the eggs before folding in the flour; or for a classic Genoise sponge, by beating eggs and sugar over lightly simmering water until doubled in volume, then folding in the plain flour and some melted butter.

The English language has most certainly evolved over the decades, and not for the better, as was very clearly demonstrated by Americans like Mr. George Bush, who, despite being President, could barely string a sentence together, in what you all like to call English. I think it is high time that you all stopped saying that you speak English. You speak American, and I do wish you luck with that.

Perhaps I am being a little unfair, because when I first heard Barack Obama giving various very eloquent speeches and speaking in whole clear and concise sentences, I did say, "Thank you God, the reign of error is finally over. At long last the idiot has gone!" What happened to George by the way?

He can't be going round the world on an after dinner speaking tour, that is for sure. He could be great as a stand up comedian.

Now. I do not propose to waste any more of time discussing the dubious merits of the American versions of age old English classics with you.

You can cook what you want, how you want. You can call it whatever you want, but pretty please, with a cherry on the top. don't call it English.

Thank you so much.

By amypollick — On Oct 27, 2013

@blackdog: As an American who has never been to the UK, I would never argue with you on what constitutes an authentic crumpet. As someone who does a fair bit of baking, however, I had to chuckle at what you said an English muffin is. Certainly, it's an American interpretation of a crumpet-type bread, but I've *never* had one that remotely resembled any kind of sponge cake.

An English muffin *is* made from a bread-type of dough, with yeast. A sponge cake gets its volume from whipped egg whites. Also, homemade English muffins are made, like crumpets, on a griddle, whereas a sponge cake is baked, usually in a springform pan. And, while English muffins may be flavored, they are most commonly sold plain.

I've never heard scones called "English scones," but only ever "scones." French toast certainly owes its origins to pain perdu, but the English language has changed over time, everywhere it is spoken, and over the years, the term changed more than the dish. The Cajun French in Louisiana use the terms interchangeably.

By blackdog — On Oct 27, 2013

In England, crumpets are never eaten for breakfast. We usually have toast for breakfast. Crumpets are usually eaten only during the winter months, at tea time, which is 4 p.m.

They are not cut in two. They are toasted and served very hot with lots of butter, not jam and not clotted cream. (Jam and clotted cream are served with scones, on which more later.)

You heat them in an electric toaster, but please never in the microwave.

The very best way to prepare them is to spear them on a long two pronged toasting fork and sit in front of the fire, warming yourselves and toasting your crumpets to get them slightly golden and hot.

After a long walk on those cold winter days, there is nothing better.

Store bought crumpets are OK, in a pinch, but they are nothing compared to the homemade ones, and they are really easy to make yourself.

English muffins are some sort of American invention, which do not exist in England, unless you are staying at the Hilton Hotel, or a Holiday Inn, etc., etc.

In England, in the 18th and 19th centuries, muffins were bun shaped pieces of slightly sweetened bread dough, which were cut in half, toasted and buttered. They were eaten at tea time. They were a way for the bakers of the time to use up left over bread dough.

In the US, what you call English muffins are not made from bread dough, but are a cake type sponge and come in a variety of flavors, from chocolate, orange, lemon or vanilla and can come with fruit inside them, like blueberries.

Like the old 18th century muffins, we do have buns, made of all sorts of bread. One well known sweet bun dating back to the Middle Ages, is the hot cross bun, which has currants or raisins, with mixed candied orange and lemon peel and mixed spices. These are usually eaten at Easter time. They are cut in two, toasted and buttered and they can be eaten either at breakfast, or for afternoon tea.

By the way. It isn't an English hot cross bun; it is just a hot cross bun.

Scones are not English scones; they are just scones. They are a sweetish dough with currants/raisins in them. They are served slightly warmed or cold and cut in two and spread with butter, and lots of very good strawberry jam and clotted cream. They are a truly excellent summer tea time treat.

You also seem to have something called French toast. This is actually pain perdu, or lost bread. In France, there are many variations of pain perdu, but the idea is to use up old bread by soaking it in a little milk and egg mixture and then frying it in butter until golden. In Normandy they cook it with butter, calvados and apples.

We have all these different things which are prepared for different times of the year, and served at particular times of the day. They follow the seasons and give you something to look forward to.

By anon161495 — On Mar 20, 2011

Crumpets are yummy. Used mainly for breakfast toasted. Never seen a recipe before, cannot wait to try it. I cannot believe they are not available in supermarkets in america. Make sure they are nice and golden on the top. The butter just melts in your mouth.

By geronimo8 — On Mar 16, 2011

I've never had an English crumpet before. It sounds like you are supposed to eat them warm. If they have been stored, and are therefore cool, how do you go about warming them again? Do you put them in the toaster, or maybe the microwave?

By rosoph — On Mar 14, 2011

I would love to try crumpets, but I'm not really up to making them myself. Plus, I don't have any crumpet rings.

Can you buy crumpets at stores in the U.S.? I've never seen them before at the regular grocery store. Maybe there are specialty stores that sell them.

By momothree — On Oct 12, 2010

Just a little fun FYI: In Australia, crumpets are sold in square form rather than the traditional round shape. It is said that they fit in the toasters better that way!

The Scottish also have their version of a crumpet. It is a different recipe and is said to be similar to the Scottish pancake.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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