English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David
450g flour (half strong and half regular flour, otherwise just use what you have)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
150g warm water
Warm the flour in a warm oven for about 5 minutes. Yes, it will make a difference!
Add the water, milk and olive oil in a saucepan and warm to blood heat (if you put your finger in it, it shouldn't feel hot or cold, but the same temperature as you). Too hot and you'll kill the yeast, too cold and the batter won't rise well.
Take the flour out of the oven and stir the salt through.
In a small bowl, mix the yeast and sugar. When the water/milk/oil mix is warmed through, use a couple of tablespoons of it to mix into the yeast and get it activated and creamy.
Mix the yeast into the flour along with the rest of the water/milk/oil. Stir vigorously, you want to get it smooth and elastic and see some strands beginning to form. It will also start "cracking" as it gets to the right consistency, the batter will snap crackle and pop. Elizabeth David reminds us of Walter Banfield's hint to "attack the batter with a vivacious turbulence". Don't be shy now!
Cover the bowl and leave the batter to rise at room temperature for an hour and a half to two hours, until it completely bubbly and risen fully.
When the batter is ready, give it a quick beat with a wooden spoon. Dissolve the bicarb in the water and add it to the batter, stirring well to combine.
Cover the batter again and leave it in a warmer place this time to really spring it back up and get those bubbles happening. You want it to be like free alcohol at a wedding, the more the better.
To cook the crumpets, grease your pan very lightly with a smear of butter, and grease the egg/crumpet rings too. Put as many rings as will fit in your pan and fill them with batter almost to the top.
Let them cook very gently over low heat for about 7-10 minutes, until they look almost dry (this will help keep the holes open and they will look prettier and more like regular crumpets at the end) before flipping and cooking another 3 minutes more until golden. The underside should be golden and smooth. Continue filling the rings and cooking until there's no batter left.
Elizabeth David could only eat crumpets straight out of the pan (warm and soaked in plenty of butter) but I'm happy to toast them and eat them in any way possible. Except just not with Vegemite. She complained toasting changed the structure of the crumpets, but I find it takes the doughy edge off if they indeed have come out a bit thick.