Since I am pretty solidly Irish (my mother was a Kelly, my dad was a Sullivan – once upon a time, O’Sullivan), I have a love/hate relationship with the Brits. They were, as history points out, quite rude to the Irish back in the century when they ruled Ireland with an iron fist. I won’t go into all the oppression they heaped on the Irish – mainly because I’ll get mad all over again.
However, I love a lot of British individuals – authors G.K. Chesterton and Agatha Christie come immediately to mind, as well as Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes. I know, before you yell at me, the latter two aren’t really people, but they seem real to me. Then there are all those great British mysteries, both written and filmed. Those by Mary Roberts Rhinehart make Erle Stanley Gardner’s offerings look like the work of a rank amateur.
I also loved Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs and all the other Masterpiece Theatre films that took place in magnificent castles. I sort of hanker to live in a magnificent castle, but I suppose that’s not going to happen.
All of which leads me to my topic for today, which is the British tradition of serving tea and crumpets.
I hadn’t the foggiest notion of what a crumpet a group of 20 women in a study club I belong to asked me to make them. Thank heavens for Google – I learned quickly that a crumpet is sort of a first cousin of English muffins. There followed several recipes for crumpets, all of which involved at least 10 ingredients and lots of kneading, folding in stuff (gently) and other fine points which completely eluded me.
I rarely make anything that requires more than three ingredients, unless it’s a chocolate dessert, in which case, I’ll happily slave away with the fussiest of recipes simply because the result is to die for.
So I pondered how to come up with crumpets to serve 20 without actually flying to England, buying out a bakery there and flying back in time for my club meeting.
Desperation is the mother of invention, they say. Who “they” are remains a mystery, but “they” seem to account for lots of sayings.
I was, indeed, a bit desperate until I came up with an invention that was pure genius. Okay, I’m patting myself on the back here, but you have to understand how panic-stricken I was, as I was going through all those abominably complicated recipes. I was really agonizing. Then whoever the patron saint of baking is (St. Sara Lee, maybe?) gave me an idea.
Since crumpets are cousins of English muffins, why not buy a pack of English muffins and doctor them up a bit so they would pass for crumpets?
And that’s exactly what I did. If any of the club members had actually had crumpets sometime and knew I was faking it, they were too polite to say anything.
And thus ends my saga of how to make crumpets and live to tell about it.