There is an excellent view from the dinner table in my little apartment. It looks out over palatial backyards that in spring were dusty pink and white with blossoms, but now have greened up and sing with crickets at night. The little leaves that were just puffs of frog green have unfurled and I can no longer see the skeletons of the grape vines, fig trees, apricots, nectarines and peach trees.
On Melbourne cup eve, I made dinner and we all sat around the little table in the lounge and looked out over the backyards, drinking wine and swapping stories from Halloween parties. Before dinner Sarah and I had set aside a batch of crumpet mix. We wanted fluffy crumpets for dessert. Now, crumpets have been giving us such trouble! We have been trying to perfect the crumpet. We want them not just light, and beautiful, like soft parcels to bite into, but we also wanted them to look like the crumpets you buy in a packet – with the air bubbles to soak up the butter. The ones that we made that looked perfect didn’t taste as good as the ones that didn’t look as much like crumpets. So we have been eating crumpets for breakfast and dessert, in our attempts to find the perfect recipe! We have been eating them drizzled in the maple syrup that our friend Colin brought back from Minnesota in a giant quart bottle. Near his family home in Minnesota you can buy maple syrup from an old couple who harvest their own trees and then sell it from a box on the side of the road – it’s sweet maple magic in every mouthful!
Last night Sarah and I tried a new crumpet recipe and we’ve got it. It’s perfect. This recipe makes crumpets that look like crumpets and taste delicious. They have the perfect bit to them, fluffy with a crunch to the bottom of them and they’re golden. We ate them with my homemade strawberry jam. I can’t wait until the trees in the backyards begin to fruit and I can charm my neighbours for produce and return it in jars of jam and chutney.
This is going to be Sarah and my last post for the year and probably until the end of January. We are flying to the source of the maple syrup for a white Christmas! In the little town where Colin’s family lives cars are disappearing under snow, structures are collapsing under the weight and Colin tells us we will be able to jump from the roof of his house right into the snow. Sitting here in short shorts, I can’t quite believe it. We will be back with stories to tell and new recipes to try for the new year, so please forgive us for our absence. In the meantime we have guest blogged for Apartment Therapy, take a look next week for a chocolate tart recipe with bountiful and boozy cherries piled on top! Merry Christmas, and happy holidays, whether you’re sitting by the beach with the sounds of crickets and cricket commentators droning in the background or if you’re jumping from a rooftop into the snow.
Sarah and Romy x
From the Ritz-Carlton Cookbook (1968)
This crumpet mix has a terribly long sitting time (3 hours) but Sarah and I recommend making them at night while you are making dinner so that you can have one crumpet for dessert and then the rest of the mix can sit overnight in the fridge and be ready first thing in the morning. Easy.
450g plain flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
2-3tbsp warm water
A slug of warm water to end?
Sift flour and salt into a clean baking tray, cover and warm in a low oven for 10 minutes. Warm the milk and water and oil on the stovetop (do not boil), add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast and leave covered in a warm place until frothy (may not froth as much as usual because of the oil). Transfer flour to a warm bowl and make a well in the centre. Stir the yeast mixture in and beat energetically for five minutes trying to get as much air into the mixture as possible. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for two hours until the surface of the mixture is bubbled. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in 2-3 tbsp of warm water and stir into the batter stirring energetically for another couple of minutes. Cover the bowl again and leave for another hour.
Cook in greased crumpet rings 7.5 – 10cm wide or cook in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cut into squares, or I have a little 6 and a half inch cast iron fry pan that is perfect. Lightly grease a heavy frying pan and add a ladleful of mixture. Cook this very gently for ten minutes until the surface becomes pitted with holes. Flip if you want to golden the top of the crumpet for just a minute.
Eat straight away, or they are excellent the next day popped into the toaster!
NB. If your first crumpet isn’t holey enough add a slug of warm water to the rest of the batter and stir. Then your crumpets will be as labyrinthine as you desire.