Friday, 19 June 2015

Fictional Food Adventure: Making Mrs. Persimmon's Crumpets from Mary Poppins by P.L Travers

I know, I read Mary Poppins quite some time ago and made her Strike Me Pink Raspberry Jam Cakes, so what business do I have to suddenly bring up a Mary Poppins recipe out of the blue? Well, I forgot! I completely forgot that there was another recipe waiting for me, so here it is now, better late than never! 

Today I set about making crumpets. Crumpets eaten round a tea-table that floats up to the ceiling along with Uncle Albert, Mary Poppins and Jane and Michael Banks, made by the sour-faced housekeeper, Mrs Persimmon.

It is Sunday and we asked my parents round for a crumpetty tea. Mum made a wonderful batch of cheese scones and fruit scones, which was just as well as the crumpets were a bit of a failure and we didn't eat most of them! 

The batter was very straightforward: Mix yeast and honey with warm water and milk, and pour that into a bowl of plain flour, strong white flour, cream of tartar and salt. Mix it all well and leave to rise and bubble up for a couple of hours.

Then I dissolved some bicarb into a little bit more warmed milk and water, which I stirred into my thick, yeasty batter. That is left for a little while longer, and then you can get griddling!

I do not possess a griddle, but we have a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan. I also do not possess any crumpet rings, (yet) so Andy rather brilliantly thought up a solution involving strips of cardboard from a cereal packet, and foil. He made them very precisely and neatly to the exact size of a standard crumpet ring, and we set about filling them with batter on a hot pan.

They seemed to be going ok, with bubbles rising and bursting, and I heeded the timing, removing the ring after 8 minutes, and flipping them over for three minutes. I should have greased the rings, I learned, because it proved impossible to free the crumpets and we had to snip the rings off them. Thankfully, Andy had made a good amount of rings so the next four crumpets were given buttered rings, and slid easily out of them at the relevant moment. After flipping, the crumpets were given a little while to golden on top, and then that was them finished. However, they were weren't completely properly cooked inside, and so we thought we had maybe made them too thick. 

Also we weren't sure if we had the heat high enough, so we played around with the amount of batter and the heat, and promptly burned the next few black on the bottom. The last two, however, had the benefit of all our combined experience, and were thick enough, not burned on the bottom, and much better cooked in the middle. They weren't quite right though, and we're not quite sure why. We wondered if it would make a discernible difference having the solid metal rings - whether they would add more heat and help the cooking along.

Also, I don't think there were enough bubbles rising up, making the texture inside too dense. I don't know if this is a heat issue, or a batter issue or what. Too many variables, and not enough knowledge of having ever cooked them before. I would like to try again if any of you have any advice! 

Anyway, I did it, and it was interesting, and we all had a lovely time, and finished off the evening with lots of card playing and raucous hilarity. Not as raucous as laughing ourselves up to the ceiling, but that's probably just as well or we'd have to make ourselves very serious in order to float down again. 

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