Why Do Crumpets Have Holes?
An expert unlocks the secret behind the beloved British griddlecake’s signature holes.
For most Americans, British food is full of mystery. Bangers and mash? Toad in the Hole? And don’t even get us started on some of the bizarre confections Great British Bake Off contestants are forced to whip up.
But when it comes to the crumpet—the spongy cousin of the English muffin as synonymous with British cuisine as tea and biscuits—and why they’re riddled with tiny holes, Americans and Brits are equally stumped.
Luckily, Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped, a British television series that explores the food industry, recently endeavored to find out how and why the beloved griddlecakes get their holes.
Spoiler alert: it’s not to collect butter.
Vas Nicolouzos, a manufacturing manager at Warburton’s in London, explained that the crumpet’s numerous tiny holes are the result of fermentation (or, as the Brits call it, proofing). Even though he couldn’t reveal trade secrets, The Independent reports that he did divulge that the key is to leave the batter to ferment in a very warm place, at about 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
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After the batter has been allowed to prove (most recipes recommend about two hours or until it becomes frothy) crumpets should be cooked on individual griddle plates, which helps the bubbles to rise to the top and grow.
“The heat of the hot plate [causes] the bubbles to expand, and the steam generated behind it pushes the bubbles up through the batter,” Nicolouzos explained. “What you get is a chimney effect. Steam pushing the bubbles up causes the flutes which makes the holes in your crumpet.”
Pretty cool... er, hot!