01 January 2010


Pikelets and crumpets - both traditional British tea-time dishes. What's the difference? A good question, because there isn't much of a one. Crumpets and pikelets are both raised bread products made with yeast, and they're both baked on a griddle (although a frying pan does just as well).. Crumpets - proper crumpets - are thick and usually cooked in a circular mould leading to a seven or eight centimetre diameter circle with a top covered in little open bubbles. When toasted and buttered, the melted butter oozes into these holes, producing a soft, buttery honeycomb with a crunchy exterior. A pikelet is usually flatter and less regularly shaped as you simply spoon a small amount of batter out rather than filling up a mould. Although other countries have their own versions, the traditional English recipe involves yeast, and so is a little more involved and lengthy than other recipes which use eggs or bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent.

This one contains a bit of both - yeast and bicarbonate of soda. Fresh yeast is always best, and it's surprisingly easy to get hold of if you don't mind asking at the local bakery. Even the supermarkets with in-store bakeries are usually happy to sell you a lump, and I know for a fact you can get it at Morrisons because I usually do; it's near the butter in our local store, and the bakery politely but firmly point you in that direction if you get mixed up. Strong bread flour has proteins necessary for making that wonderful gluten, which helps when you're making yeast-based bread treats, so do check your packet carefully and go for a good, strong flour.

Making the batter:
125g strong bread flour
125g plain flour
1 and a half teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
Half a teaspoon of salt
8g fresh yeast (if you're using powdered, you may need to prepare it differently)
75ml lukewarm whole milk
250ml lukewarm water

Sort your yeast out first, adding the water to it slowly until you've made a yeasty paste into which it's easy to combine the remaining water. Add this to the flours with just half a teaspoon of the bicarbonate of soda and mix it into a very thick batter.

You're going to leave this in a warm place for two hours, covered with a damp cloth. The batter will go very frothy, and you can now dissolve the remaining bicarbonate of soda in the lukewarm milk and add it to the batter. Yay! You're now ready to make pikelets!

Cooking the pikelets:
Lightly butter and heat a non-stick frying pan. Spoon tablespoons of the mixture onto the pan and watch the pikelet for signs of the bubbles beginning to burst on the surface. When this happens, turn over the pikelet and continue to cook for a little longer until the top, bubbled surface is golden.
It's best now to allow them to cool, then re-toast them and slather them with plenty of butter. In practice, however, the freshly cooked pikelets are a little too tempting to be left alone, and a good smear of butter on top of them is hard to resist. Either way, enjoy.

The Great British Kitchen, The Lovely Delia, Wikibooks

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