Crumpets are an Anglo-Saxon invention. The early crumpets were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era, which were made with yeast.
12 oz (350g) strong white bread flour
7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast
10 fl oz (300 ml) warm water
Â½ level tsp salt
Â½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
8 fl oz (225 ml) milk
A little vegetable oil
1. Sift half the flour into a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water, stirring until smooth. Cover with a clean tea towel or cling-film and leave on a work top next to your Aga to start to prove, about 15-20 minutes, or until bubbles start to form.
2. Sift the remaining flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Make a well and pour in the milk and flour and yeast mixture. Mix well to give a thick batter consistency. Beat well for five minutes and then cover with a clean tea towel or cling-film and leave on a work top next to your Aga. Leave here for an hour, until a sponge-like batter has formed. Beat for a final couple of minutes before cooking the crumpets.
3. Raise the Simmering Plate lid 10 minutes before starting to cook. Then place an Aga kettle of cold water here and allow to slowly come to the boil. These two actions will slightly cool this hotplate to give the best results and colour to the undersides of the crumpets (neither actions are necessary on models with on-off hotplates). While the hotplate is being prepared, brush the insides of your crumpet rings with a little oil. Using a pad of kitchen paper, lightly oil the Simmering Plate before cooking each batch. Place the rings on the Simmering Plate and leave for two minutes to fully heat up.
4. Pour the batter into a large jug and pour a little batter into each ring to a depth of ¾ inch (2 cm). Cook for 5-7 minutes until the surface of each crumpet appears dry and is peppered with holes. Now carefully remove the rings and use a metal fish slice to turn the crumpets to cook on the other side for just one minute. Cool on a wire cake cooling rack and continue with subsequent batches, brushing the crumpets rings with oil before each batch.
5. When wanted, toast the crumpets on both sides in an Aga toaster or using a toasting fork in front of an open fire with brightly-burning coals and serve with plenty of butter and jam.