It's taken me a long time to come around to the savoury crumpet. As a child they were eaten exclusively with butter and honey. Vegemite or peanut butter were both definite no-no's, and in truth the only other approved topping to be added since then has been marmalade.
I don't know why they're something about which I'm so particular, but I've just always seen crumpets as a breakfast option that should be both simple and sweet. Theoretically they're a canvas as open to adornment as toast, but while plenty of cafes these days serve them with anything from caramelised bananas and poached fruit to avocado or the full eggs Benedict, the idea of smothering them with anything more than butter and a smear of sweet condiment has never really appealed.
Of course, the old adage of "don't knock it until you've tried it" rings particularly loudly when it comes to food, so when I came across this suggestion for a ham and stilton version I figured it was time to see how the other half lives. And since I'm an equally big fan of food portmanteaus*...
HAM & GRUYERE CRUMPETS (Adapted from Nigel Slater's Christmas crumpets)
- 175 g baker's flour
- 50 g spelt flour
- 100 ml full-cream milk
- 180 ml water
- 7 g dried yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- A pinch of bicarbonate soda
- 1 tsp dijon mustard, thinned with water
- 100-150 g gruyere cheese, grated
- 50-100 g ham on the bone, finely diced
Pour the milk and water into a small pan and place over low heat until just warm (blood temperature).
Combine the flours, salt, bicarb soda and yeast in a medium bowl then pour in the milk mixture and stir until the batter is sticky and thick. Beat for 1 minute with a wooden spoon then cover and set aside in a warm place for 90 minutes, until doubled in volume.
Warm a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Brush the pan and crumpet rings with melted butter, place the rings in the pan and reduce heat to low. Pour one-sixth of the batter into each ring and cook for ~10 minutes, until the top is almost firm to the touch. Check the base occasionally to make sure that it is not colouring too quickly.
Release the crumpets from the rings by running a knife around the edge and transfer to a baking tray (you can leave them in the pan if it's ovenproof). Drizzle a little of the thinned mustard over each crumpet, then scatter with ham and cheese. Place under a hot grill, until the cheese is melted and just beginning to colour. Serve immediately.
** This I am, of course, comprehensively not. With a nod to the "each to their own" clause, for me the only thing a food portmanteau succeeds at is managing to combine two excellent products and, in doing so, utterly ruin them both. These 'fusion' fads are one of my pet peeves, making it only appropriate that I write an entirely contradictory post on the subject. Some things should never be taken too seriously.