From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Crumpets were an Anglo-Saxon invention. In early times, they were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era which were made with yeast. The crumpet-makers of the Midlands and London developed the characteristic holes, by adding extra baking powder to the yeast dough. The term itself may refer to a crumpled or curled-up cake, or have Celtic origins relating to the Breton krampoez meaning a "thin, flat cake" and the Welsh crempog or crempot, a type of pancake. Since many English words have Germanic roots, another possible root is the similar German word krumm (from Middle High German krump, krum) which means "bent".
The English crumpet
Crumpets are generally circular though rectangular varieties also exist. They have a distinctive flat top covered in small pores and a resilient, slightly spongy texture, being very porous. Crumpets alone are bland and generally eaten hot with a topping (usually butter). Other popular accompaniments include cheese when melted on top of the crumpet, poached egg, jam, Marmite, marmalade, honey, peanut butter, cheese spread, golden syrup, and maple syrup.
A pikelet is similar to a crumpet, but thinner and sometimes irregularly shaped. (However, the meaning of pikelet varies: in some regions of Britain it traditionally refers to a crumpet, muffin or other teacake. In other British regions, Australia and New Zealand it refers to a Scotch pancake.)
The Scots crumpet
A Scots crumpet is made from the same ingredients as a Scotch pancake, and is about 180 mm (7 inches) diameter and 8 mm (0.3 inches) thick. They are available plain, or as a fruit crumpet with raisins baked in, and are not reheated before serving; condiments include jam, vegemite, marmite and other such sweet-based products. The ingredients include a raising agent, usually baking powder, and different proportions of eggs, flour and milk which create a thin batter. Unlike a pancake, they are cooked to brown on one side only, resulting in a smooth darker side where it has been heated by the griddle, then lightly cooked on the other side which has holes where bubbles have risen to the surface during cooking. It bears little resemblance to the English crumpet.
This is the normal kind of crumpet in baker's shops in Scotland, tea rooms, and cafés, though the English type of crumpet is often obtainable in supermarkets in addition to the Scottish kind.
Humourist Frank Muir dubbed Joan Bakewell as "the thinking man's crumpet" following her appearances in high-brow television discussion programmes such as BBC2's Late Night Line-Up, and the term has subsequently been used to refer to other women who are intelligent and good looking, particularly if they have a high profile in the broadcast media.