A little over a week ago Jeremy was out of town for work and I was left with the apartment all to myself. What is a young lady to do under these circumstances, you ask? Why, throw a Downton Abby-themed view-a-thon for herself and for her friends, of course! I absolutely love that PBS series, and decided to make some very undeniably English food items to nibble on while we watched the first season. I made cucumber tea sandwiches with a dill cream cheese spread and hazelnut shortbread cookies, both of which I'll post about later on, but what I enjoyed making most was the crumpets, the recipe for which I found here and shrunk down a bit since there were only four of us. Crumpets are to the English what English muffins are to us, meaning they spread butter and jam on them eat them along with tea, coffee, or breakfast. Crumpets are made from a basic blend of yeast, flour, water, and milk, allowed to rise, and then fried on a griddle like tiny tea saucer-sized pancakes. Normally, you place something called crumpet rings on the griddle, which are little circular metal cookie cutters that you pour the batter into so the crumpets can grow taller as they cook. But I didn't have crumpet rings and didn't want to buy any, so, I made them without and although they were a bit flatter (about 1/2 inch thick) than modern crumpets, crumpet rings weren't invented until a couple hundred years ago, so I figure that mine were just ultra-traditional. The best thing about crumpets are the trademark holes that appear on top of them when they're frying. These make for excellent butter and jam holders and make each bite of the crumpet explode with tiny pockets of buttery jelly goodness. Needless to say, all 18 crumpets were gone within a day.
And yes, there is a giveaway in today's post! And it is, in my opinion, the best giveaway I've had yet. I recently got in touch with Shutterfly, a photo printing website that has hundreds upon hundreds of creative options for printing and sharing your photos, about doing a giveaway. They suggested I try out one of their photo books, using it as a personal recipe collection. This sounded fun and intriguing, so I went to their website and started putting it together. I thought I would be able to finish it over a weekend, but there were so many fun design options it ended up taking me over a week because I kept playing with everything ("Is that a vintage-looking 'Gourmet' sign?" "Oooh brightly colored polka-dot bands..." "What an adorable cartoon milk carton!" etc). I wasn't sure if I'd exported the photos correctly, but the customer service team at Shutterfly explained to me in detail what the best export settings for printing were, and I uploaded my photos and sent the book off into the interwebs to be printed. It arrived on Thursday, and it was gorgeous. and I mean gorgeous. I have pretty high standards when it comes to prints of my photos, but this went above and beyond anything I had expected. The prints were sharp, the text of the recipes was crisp, all of the art and design pieces inserted from Shutterfly looked perfect, and the pages were nice and thick, like an actual cookbook.
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1 3/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Plus 3 Tablespoons Warm Water
1/3 Cup Warm Milk
1 3/4 Teaspoons Salt
1 Teaspoon plus a Pinch Yeast
Heaping 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Sugar
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the warm water. Allow the mixture to rest, stirring every couple minutes, for 5-10 minutes until the yeast has dissolved and there are a few small bubbles along the edge of the bowl. Stir in the remaining warm water and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and the cream of tartar. Then add the yeast mixture and stir quickly until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for one hour to rise. If it's chilly and you don't have a sun-facing window, like myself, then you can set the bowl on top of a heating pad (the kind you use for muscle cramps) turned on to low. After the hour's passed, add the salt and beat the batter with an electric mixture for one minute. Then cover the bowl and place it in a warm place for another 20 minutes.
Mix together the baking soda and the warm milk and then stir it into the batter until completely combined. Heat a large griddle and use a ladle to pour some of the batter onto the griddle, pouring just enough to create a saucer-sized disk. Holes should begin appearing in the top of the crumpet as it cooks. If they don't, add a few more tablespoons of warm water to the batter. Once the crumpet has holes and the bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes into cooking, flip it over and cook the side with holes for a few minutes until gold in color.
Remove the crumpet from the griddle and set on a rack to cool, (if you put it directly onto a plate it will get a bit soggy on the bottom from the heat evaporating), until you're finished making all the crumpets. Serve with butter and jam.