January 23, 2005
"The Crumpet is a Different Beast"

It's irritating, isn't it, to have a telephone conversation with someone whose attention is really elsewhere, whether the person is watching television or watching a brawl happen across the room? "Yes, what? (sound of chewing) I'm listening.... (muffled unidentified crashing sounds) Ummm...yeah...(shuffling of papers) What did you say? No, really." My attention has really been elsewhere lately, so this site has felt like one of those conversations, except I'm the person not really paying attention.

However, winter draws us inward and, this weekend, toward what I can only describe as teatime bread products. Not too long ago, at our local fancy grocery store, we came across crumpets. As Americans, this was a first for us and we were surprised at how much they looked like English muffins. So earlier this week, after a particularly trying day, I came home with crumpets, English muffins, and a jar of Nutella for a taste test at home.

The products at hand were Gourmet Baker Crumpets ("British-Style Toaster Muffins," the package helpfully amplifies) and Bay's Sourdough English Muffins. In addition to the Nutella, we also had butter, jam, and a pot of Earl Grey. A few experts say a crumpet should be heated on a grill, but we opted for the lazier method of using a toaster ("heat or toast," says the crumpet package, somewhat confusingly). The crumpets actually required two go-rounds in the toaster and probably could have used a third.

Under the close supervision of the cat, we sat down to compare and contrast.

Unbuttered: The humble crumpet.

Muffin vs. Crumpet, plain:
E: The muffins are crispier. The crumpets are creamier. A lot denser, too.
A: The crumpet is less rugged.
E: But chewier.
A: Sort of a soft center. (Way too soft, if you ask me; it needed more toasting as it was a bit clammy as it cooled.)

Watch those sharp edges: The English Muffin.

Muffin vs. Crumpet with butter:
E: Is the muffin really just a conveyance for the butter?
A: I don't know, I sort of like it.
E: The crumpet is really more pancake-like.
A: And more spongy.

Muffin vs. Crumpet with butter and jam:
E: The English muffin is less easy to spread things on. But it's crispy, nice.
A: Makes me feel like I need scrambled eggs. (Note: It is five p.m.)
E: The crumpet has a better bread-to-jelly ratio.
A: Nice and solid, if a little cool in the center. I don't really get a sense of the flavor of the bread, though.
(E launches into a discussion of sourdough and salt content, which I didn't write down, but he's probably right, that's what I'm missing.)

Muffin vs. Crumpet with Nutella:
A: It's all about the Nutella for me right now. Mmmm.
A: The English muffin is like a chocolate-covered pretzel.
E: Not a bad comparison.
A: The crumpet is quite chewy.
E: It doesn't hold up to cooling as well. But still nice.
E: The crumpet is certainly a different beast.
A: It needs more careful handling, needed to be cooked more.

As the cat surreptitiously licked the butter knives, we decided that while we probably couldn't eat crumpets every day, we wouldn't turn one away either if it came to the door (and what a suprise that would be). As for me, I still remain an English muffin girl (with Nutella) at heart.

When it turns away, the crumpet looks like a tiny, tiny pancake.

Next week: The Wild World of Scones.

Posted at January 23, 2005 06:01 PM

dear oh dear oh dear

i know that it is inappropriate to say such things to culinary researchers but: you did it all wrong!

if you had done it right, the crumpet would have demolished the muffin on every count.

1. acquire one (1) coal fireplace or stove
2. burn within, for several hundred hears, coal
3. acquire one (1) or two (2) toasting forks. the type that extends is best as the hundred year old coal runs a bit hot
4. toast, turning regularly, until well done
5. apply butter, enough to make your doctor worry
6. apply honey, lots
7. eat

The butter and honey should be in great enough quantity that they soak through the bottom (pancake) side of the crumpet to dribble upon whatever expensive item of clothing you might be wearing at the time.

In the absense of coal, or even a fireplace, toast, um, vigorously.

Posted by: Chris Dent on January 23, 2005 11:49 PM

A very humorous read. English vs English, and muffin wins?

Posted by: brian on January 24, 2005 12:48 PM

mmm. My kind of research!

They both win! No! Neither of them win! The data was corrupted! We'll have to run the tests again...

Posted by: Felicity on January 24, 2005 09:36 PM

Another vote for the crumpet!

Now this is NOT recommended by anyone official, but here is how I "do" crumpets.

Heat it in the microwave (about 10-20 seconds, depending on the microwave). This heats it through. Now stick it in the toaster, or better yet, in the toaster oven.

No clamminess, a delicious crispy outside with the yummy springy densely moist inside soaked with pure salted butter that invaded every pore and heavenly honey that ummm...yummmm...hmmmm....*licking fingers, wiping chin, catching drops scooting sweaterwards* ...mumble...yummm

Or better yet - give me all the crumpets, and you can have all my English muffins. Any time.

Posted by: Sivani on January 25, 2005 12:01 PM

Just as well we're not speaking in double entendres here.

Posted by: Sivani on January 25, 2005 04:45 PM
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