The 23 April is St George’s day. If I am honest, and honestly I do tend to be as it prevents the guilt that lying can cause and I am just not a good enough liar to pull it off without getting myself into a pickle, this sort of occasion tends to pass me by before I even realise and have the chance to do any activities relating to it with the kids. This year Simon suggested that I get the kids involved about a week ago and this spurred me to find a recipe that I had not made with the kids before, but which was also traditionally English.
Many ideas zipped across my head and I immediately became desperate to try as many of them as possible. I had to tell myself to slow down and that there is plenty of time to make bubble and squeak with leftovers and convince the boys to eat stewed fruit so they will enjoy a tasty, yummy, delicious, warming crumble. Yes the boys love fruit, but both refuse point blank to entertain the possibility of consuming stewed fruit in any sort of pudding. It is very strange, but, as yet I have been unable to change this. Ophelia, much to my delight, doesn’t share this peculiarity. After I had manage to channel my thoughts, I decided what could possibly be more English than crumpets and fruit jam? After reading that crazy jumble of ideas, you have a greater understanding of how hard it is for my family and friends (my husband in particular) to keep up my train of though and stay sane during the process!
Crumpets are traditionally cooked on a griddle and despite their regional variations, the crumpet that we recognise today seems to be a product of the Victorian times when yeast was added to the recipe. Now before you start thinking crumpets, gosh they sound fiddly and difficult and I don’t want my child standing over the hob for that long as they will get bored and you never know what mischief or trouble they could cause, don’t worry these are oven baked. Woop woop! My children all love crumpets and eating homemade crumpets definitely makes the process all the more special.
For the crumpets
- 225g plain flour (or gluten free flour – see note below the method for gluten free flour)
- 7g fast action yeast
- 200ml tepid water
- 100ml milk
- 1tbsp golden syrup (we have found that Tate and Lyles is the best brand as some of the other brands do sometimes leave the crumpets with a slight orange tinge)
- 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4tsp salt
Recipe adapted from Peyton and Byrne, British Baking
- Preheat the oven to 180°c and set a timer for 2 minutes. In the meantime boil the kettle and fill a bowl with the boiling water. Once the 2 minutes is up, turn off the oven and the oven light and place the bowl of hot water into the oven and close the door. This will create good conditions to activate the yeast during proving.
- Measure out the tepid water and add the yeast and mix until the latter has dissolved.
- Sift the flour into a medium-sized bowl (I give the kids a spoon to push the flour through to reduce the mess and ‘make it snow’) and create a well in the middle of it with the back of a spoon.
- Add the milk to the yeast and water mixture and mix well. Then add the golden syrup and mix again until fully combined.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the well in the flour bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.
- Add the salt and the bicarbonate of soda and mix again.
- Cover with cling film and place in the oven to prove for 30 minutes. At the end of proving the mixture should seem thicker, have air bubbles and be sticky to the touch.
- While the mixture is proving grease you muffin pans. I used silicone ones either sprayed in frylight or greased with margarine. Atticus enjoyed painting them with the margarine. Silicone ones do make removing them from the pan easier. A well-greased metal muffin tray could be used instead.
- Once the proving time is up remove the crumpet batter from the oven and switch the oven to 180°c fan.
- Fill each muffin compartment around two thirds full and then level gently with the back of a spoon if they don’t seem flat. We filled 6 circular and 5 heart shaped compartments.
- Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the tops are a light golden colour and springy to the touch.
- Leave in the muffin trays for a couple of minutes to cool and them remove to cool further. You may be thinking these don’t look like the crumpets you buy at the supermarket, but once they have cooled a bit more slice them in half to expose their trademark air bubbles. Try and avoid slicing them when they are piping hot as it is easier when they have cooled a little. To reheat place under the grill for a couple of minutes. Enjoy with jam, butter, peanut butter or even Nutella! These do have a sweet taste due to the golden syrup.
To make these gluten-free follow the same process, substituting the plain flour for gluten-free plain flour. This mixture will not rise as much or have as sticky texture as the normal plain flour and will be considerably runnier. They don’t rise as much during cooking either and are slightly stodgier than their plain flour counterparts. I have, however, been informed by a gluten-free friend that they taste like normal crumpets. They may need to be cooked in the oven for a minute or two longer as well and are best toasted. The close up on the left is a gluten-free crumpet and as you can see the holes are less pronounced.
For the Chia Seed Jam
In this recipe the chia seeds act as the gelling agent instead of the pectin. The more chia seeds added the thicker the jam will become. You will not get the same set jam that traditional jam making will yield, but as I have discovered, it is a perfect way to introduce children to jam making.
- 2 cups of fruit (we used apple and blackberry as we had some leftover frozen blackberries from last autumn’s foraging trips.)
- 1-2tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2tbsp clear honey
- Chia seeds (the amount you require depends of the consistency of the jam you want. If you want a thick jam, you will need more chia seeds. We did use quite a lot of chia seeds as we wanted thick jam.)
For older children;
- Wash and peel and hard skin off of the fruit (such as apple skin). Chop fruit. Berries can be left whole.
- Stew the fruit for around 10 minutes until it is soft. I am personally happy to supervise my 5 and 3 year olds using the hob, but if you would prefer the adult can do this for the child. If you have chosen very ripe soft fruit then you can bypass this step.
- Squish the fruit with a potato masher.
- Then add 1tbsp of lemon juice and 1tbsp of honey. Check the sweetness and then add the rest of the lemon juice or honey if required. If the fruit is particularly sharp, then you may well need more than 2tbsp of honey.
- Add 1tbsp of chia seeds and leave to start setting. If you do want a firmer jam rather than a thick fruit compote continue adding chia seeds 1tsp at a time at 10 minute intervals. The last step of adding further chia seeds may be the part that you complete for the child. Place in sterilised jars (if the fruit was stewed do this once it has cooled) and store in the fridge.
If you have young children (between 1 and 4) you can still make this recipe. I would advise you choose a soft very ripe fruit such as strawberries or raspberries and they squish them with a fork or potato masher and then follow the same steps as the stove-top method.
As soon as we have finished making the jam, Atticus turns around and says to me; ‘Mummy I don’t like jam.’ I had to do my best not to snap at him and remember how much fun he had making the jam with his brother and working the apple peeler and watching the jam get thicker. Luckily, Seb and Ophelia both seem to like it. Ophelia managed to get it all over her face and behind her ears, but she did have a smile all over her face when she did so I was happy. I took this as a positive sign and this gave my patience levels a much needed boost after Atticus’s comment!
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