sourdough crumpets for one

14 May

sourdough crumpets for one

When I followed the link on Orangette’s rhubarb compote, I fell into a rabbit hole. I devoured the whole of The Pastry Department in one sitting, admiring its clean prose, tessellated pen and ink drawings and pure pastry chef geekery. Dana Cree’s recipes are from her restaurant, Blackbird, in Chicago, that I would now love to visit. They speak to the professional in their sophisticated flavour combinations, in her pared-down instructions. But they are inspiring to a home cook as well – that raw passion and intensity, the idea that you need to experiment, to taste and taste again. Reading through made me feel like a small child, allowed to eat at the grown-up table for the first time. Wide eyed and determined to live up to the trust placed in me. The list of components in the Blackbird crepes – chicory streusel, coffee mascarpone, teff crepes, rum bling, chocolate cremeux, and more – sounds like a challenge of the best kind.

I want to write to the younger version of myself, and tell her everything I’ve discovered along the way…. This blog is written for her, that wide eyed girl making the untethered leap into her first pastry chef position, and for anyone like her pushing forward into pastry careers of their own. – from the about page

It feels like discovering an Ottolenghi of desserts: when you want to make every recipe, right now, today, despite the long list of ingredients. A generous chef – who lists all of her formulas rather than keeping them secret – and one with a sense of humour. I especially liked the recipe for Mr Darcy’s sourdough crumpets. Since I have named my houseplants (Dorothy and Alfred) I am surprised it didn’t occur me to name my sourdough starter as she did hers. An English name for an English breakfast. And since I was on my way home from England with a stash of tea and crumpets, since I was wearing a Pride and Prejudice book necklace made by my adorable cousin, since I hate throwing away most of my starter if I am not baking bread when I feed it in the morning… it felt like fate.

(For this recipe, you will need to be cultivating a sourdough starter already. The upkeep is minimal: feed it flour and water every day or couple of days, leave it to bubble at room temperature. Put it the fridge when you go on holiday. Much easier than a kitten. If the promise of golden-brown, flavoursome sourdough loaves AND hot crumpets in the morning is not enough to convince you, then I don’t know what else to say. I am not enough of an expert to explain the whole process, certainly not as a codicil to a blogpost, but I can recommend the Tartine book with all its pictures as a good start.)

I haven’t opened the packet of shop crumpets. I have been experimenting with the Mr Darcy formula in the morning – bread flour or all purpose? do I need rings or will this heart shaped cutter do? how much butter? how thick? – and enjoying the freedom to play around. And the fresh, holey, chewy, butter-soaked crumpets, of course.


Sourdough crumpets

recipe adapted from the pastry department – she recommends you feed the starter after 6pm for morning crumpets. Approximately 12 hours before should be fine. She uses plain (all-purpose) flour for her starter but since I mainly use mine for bread otherwise, I use a bread flour. And 100g is the amount I normally throw away when I feed my small starter, leaving only a teaspoon or so behind.. So I’ve just carried on doing it this way. Feel free to scale up: just feed your starter double the night before. If you don’t have buttermilk in the fridge, just add a couple of drops of lemon juice/vinegar to whole milk and let it curdle for a few minutes. And I’ve used baking powder when out of soda. You can use biscuit cutters (heart-shaped or not!) instead of rings for the crumpets. Or if you do them freehand, they will be a little flatter but no less delicious. 

makes 2 large / 4 small crumpets

100g leftover sourdough starter

20g plain flour

20g buttermilk

2g baking soda (1/4 tsp)

1g salt (a pinch)

Whisk all ingredients together and let stand for 30 minutes. Heat up a large flat frying pan, medium heat. It shouldn’t be so hot that the butter burns. If you are using rings, heat them up with the pan. Add a little butter to the middle of each ring. Whisk mixture one more time and tip into a piping bag. When the butter is sizzling, pipe (or spoon) mixture into the rings so they are about 1cm thick. Bubbles will form and the top will set. Keep an eye on them so the bottom doesn’t brown too fast. Eat immediately with butter and flaky salt, or save for toasting later.

12 Responses to “sourdough crumpets for one”

  1. gh0stpupp3t May 14, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    Noms.. sourdough crumpets or any thing with sourdough in it… heavenly.

  2. Tony Finch May 17, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    This post was very timely! I am just getting in to sourdough – I went to a tutorial on it just yesterday, to help get me going. Came home with some ready-made starter 🙂

    What proportion of flour and water do you feed your starter with? I have seen guidelines saying equal volume of flour and water and others saying equal weights. Isn’t the runnyness of your starter important for this recipe?

    • Frances May 18, 2015 at 10:41 am #

      Hi Tony!
      So I’m not at all an expert on sourdough, have been teaching myself at home from pictures etc. Because I only bake one loaf at a time, I have a small quantity of starter: when I feed it, I keep about 1 tsp starter and mix with 50g water, 50g bread (strong) flour. So equal weights. And I make sure to feed it 8-12 hours before baking. When it is fresh, it is actually quite stretchy – it is only after 24-48 hours (if I’m not feeding it regularly) that is goes very sour and runny. But everyone has their own methods depending on their schedules and flour available – it takes a bit of experimenting! Let me know if you have any more questions – good luck!

      • Tony Finch May 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm #


        My first attempt at this recipe was not entirely successful – I think I put too much batter in each ring. I am having another go 🙂

      • Frances May 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

        Hi! It took me a bit of trial and error as well – if there is too much mixture the bottom will burn by the time the top cooks through!

  3. Jennifer May 18, 2015 at 10:40 am #

    Sooo did you name the starter? The suspense is killing me. (also um when can i come over for crumpets? we can invite diana and make those banana pancakes?)

    • Frances May 18, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      I haven’t thought of a really good name yet. It needs to be quite old-fashioned, reflecting its beige and stretchy nature. Like a grandpa’s trousers. Any ideas? And we could do brunch this Sunday? xxx

  4. chiefmastersamba June 17, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    Seems very fin, I´ll try this here in Munich. Thx for the inspiration

  5. Tessa August 10, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Hi runnin’ bud. Ooooh brilliant! I’ve been wanting to ‘do’ crumpets for a while and here is a recipe, with sour dough to boot 🙂 Mine is called ‘Bubbles’. My favourite sour dough recipe is apple-and-currents-soaked-in-Calvados bread *drool*. Slather with butter and enjoy!

    I have a strong suspicion that Paul Hollywood’s raspberry and white chocolate sour dough bread is a strong contender though. Haven’t tried yet for fear of addiction…

    • Frances August 10, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      Hi Tessa! I am on a bread kick this holidays – have already made choco/chili/lime and there is a polenta/thyme waiting (that rhymes!) to cool down. Apple/currant/calvados sounds AMAZING. And I have all those things in my cupboard! Thank-you for the inspiration! Let me know how the crumpets go – I had to play around with size/thickness to get them just right. Bon appétit! xxx

      • Tessa August 11, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

        Sounds like an excellent way to spend the summer months! You mix polenta through you bread mix? Excellent idea. Extra crunchy? I find it’s quite tricky to find flavours that work well with the sour dough taste. Will try yours as well 😀
        ps: I soak the currents over night and then mix with the fresh apple bits right before adding it to the bread (discard as much Calvados as possible,.. in your mouth, hmmmm). This helps to keep the apples from discolouring during the second rise. Enjoy!

      • Frances August 12, 2015 at 9:40 am #

        Oh the discolouring thing is clever! But my loaf is already rising in the fridge 🙂 next time! For the polenta, I mix about 1/2 cup instant polenta with 1/2 cup water, fluff it up with a fork and let it sit for half an hour, then fold it in halfway through the bulk rise. It actually makes it lovely and soft and fluffy! Good with herbs too xx

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