Crumpets are round, flat, moist yeast-risen breads about 4 inches wide (10 cm.)
They are made from a very thick, unsweetened batter with yeast in it. Metal rings are placed on top of a hot griddle, and the batter poured into them. The batter is cooked until the bottom is brown. During this time, the batter rises, and bubbles form on the top. Some schools of thought hold that Crumpets should not be cooked any further past the point when the top of the batter has set, and that you shouldn’t flip them. Most people, though, do flip them to cook the top further on the griddle. The flipping happens when the holes from the bubbles are set and the top has lost its glossiness and appears dry. After being flipped, they are cooked for about half a minute to brown that other side.
The process is very much like cooking a very, very thick pancake batter, and like pancakes, the top ends up with a lot of holes in it.
If you are North American, don’t confuse Crumpets with English Muffins.
In making Crumpets, you can use purpose-made Crumpet rings, or, just use well-washed tuna tins, with top and bottom removed. Mind any sharp edges on the tins.
The holes are “designed”, if you will, to capture melting butter. Crumpets are toasted before being eaten, then buttered. (Freshly-made ones straight off the griddle require, of course, no reheating by toasting.) Further topping with honey or golden syrup is optional, but very nice.
“Crompid cakes” were being made in the 1300s, sometimes with no rings for as moulds and with a thinner batter that produced thin, crumpled up edges. They were cooked on a griddle, as only the very rich had ovens.
Literature & Lore
“Crumpet” in the UK is also used to refer to a sexy woman.
Bareham, Lindsey. Masterclass: Crumpets. London: The Times. 25 February 2010.