How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tea & Crumpets!

In addition to my coffee classes, I enjoy teaching a one-credit colloquium on tea and climate change each semester. It started as a one-semester idea, but the BSU Honors students keep hearing about it and asking that it be offered again. And I so much enjoy working with these delightful, curious students that I keep agreeing to do so.

This semester I invited the students over for an informal gathering at Casa Hayes-Boh on Reading Day. Since I serve tea in class every time, I needed to do something different to make this occasion a little fancy, so I decided on crumpets ... not really knowing what they are. Crumpet is of course the elf name adopted by David Sedaris in The SantaLand Diaries, but that was not helping me as a cook!

Thanks to the Interwebs, I learned that they are something like a pancake and something like and English muffin. I also learned that they are best served fresh off the griddle, and I was fortunate to find a simple crumpet recipe on AllRecipes. (I'm ashamed to admit that I did not even check with Deborah Madison first!)

Because I had never even had a crumpet and would therefore not know how to correct any errors midstream, I followed the recipe to the letter. I even measured the temperature of the water and milk before stirring them into the flour mixture. As with all yeast-leavened recipes, this one calls for storing the dough in a warm place. Our house does not have any warm places between September and May, so I set the oven to 170F and then turned it off, simply to provide warm storage. It seemed to work very well.

Once the batter had risen -- though it was a bit thinner than I anticipated -- I gave it a good stir and then put it in the fridge until the tea was brewing. Next time I will go ahead and start the crumpets before the tea, because keeping them on a rack in a warm oven does seem to be just fine.

I did stray from the recipe in one way -- I had no crumpet rings! I thought that a reasonable substitute would be easy to find in our local grocery, but I was mistaken. So I ordered some online -- and experience my first failure of Amazon Prime. I guess I deserved that for no planning ahead and finding a local shop. So the cookie and biscuit tools I found made for some cute, if slightly untidy, cakes.

Thank goodness for our indispensable cast-iron griddle! 
The result? Scrumptious, spongy little cakes, perfect with local Trappist jams, no butter. Having neither our own cow nor a clue, I was not able to offer clotted cream.

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