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.