Expert reveals the real reason why crumpets have holes

It's all to do with the fermentation process

Sarah Young
Monday 19 February 2018 15:10
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Served piping hot and smothered with lashings of butter, crumpets are the ultimate teatime staple for most Brits.

And aside from their spongy texture and crunchy coating the best thing about them has to be the holes that trap your choice of topping, be it jam, chocolate spread or perpetually divisive Marmite.

But, just how do those elusive holes get there in the first place?

Luckily, Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped has the answers and revealed on its latest show the secret as to why and how crumpets form their holes.

During a visit to the Warburton’s factory in north London, co-presenter Kate Quilton discovered that a crumpet’s characteristic bubbles develop after the batter has been made, during the fermentation process.

After speaking to Warburton’s manufacturing manager Vas Nicolouzos, the expert divulged his top tips when it comes to making the perfect crumpet including leaving the batter to ferment in a very warm place, at about 40 Celsius, in order to form bubbles.

However, he couldn’t reveal the secret to just how long the batter should ferment for.

After allowing the mixture to prove – which most recipes suggest doing twice for two hours – Nicolouzos said the next stage is to cook the crumpets on individual hot plates which helps the bubbles to increase in size.

“The heat of the hot plate [causes] the bubbles to expand, and the steam generated behind it pushes the bubbles up through the batter,” he explained.

“What you get is a chimney effect. Steam pushing the bubbles up causes the flutes which makes the holes in your crumpet.”

The expert’s top tips came after Quilton’s co-presenter Matt Tebbutt failed to make crumpets in his own kitchen, despite being a trained chef.

Here, his failure to prove the mixture for long enough and cooking in a shallow frying pan instead of a deep hot plate meant they tasted “like flat Yorkshire puddings.”

However, after following the advice of Nicolouzos he eventually cracked the recipe.

But before you go on a crumpet binge it’s worth noting that previous studies have condemned the tasty treat for containing “alarmingly high” levels of salt.

In 2016, a report from Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) said that some brands contain shocking levels of salt with just one giant-sized crumpet containing more than three packets of ready salted crisps – and that’s without any toppings.

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