Look at that face. He wants what my sister has. But he's not getting it. Oh, it's hard being a dog.
It's late autumn. And it's getting way cold. The leaves have given up, my fingertips have given up, and quite frankly, we could all do with some warmth in our lives.
That is why, there is nothing better than late afternoon tea on a late November day. With rounds and rounds of crumpets and pots and pots of hot tea. It really warms the cockles.
The other day, I decided I would make crumpets from scratch. Except I didn't decide that at all, I decided I would make the cousin of the house of Crumpet: the humble Pikelet.
I always thought pikelets were a small fish. Kind of like a scampi/whitebait type deal. So whenever anyone offered me some pikelets, I turned my nose up and said "No FREAKING way! Fish, in the afternoon?! You be crazy!".
Imagine my surprise when I found out yesterday from HFW (literally loving his book) that they are in fact the lovechild of a crumpet and a crepe! Continental! And that making them from scratch seems distinctly simple. And something that I should attempt.
All you need for pikelet fun
Now, to get the lovely crumpet-esque holes to form when you cook pikelets, you need yeast in your batter mixture. And yeast is special because it's alive. Which kind of freaks me out. But because of this, it needs to be activated and nurtured, coaxed and cajoled into releasing its rising powers into your batter.
Which all this essentially means you should make your batter in the morning, if you want to have pikelets as it gets dark (which these days is around 4.30).
Apparently fresh yeast is better to use, but I didn't have any, so used some dry yeast. Which worked just as well.
Now, this is what I had to do, according to the mighty Hugh, and it made more than enough to fill up four people so that they could hardly move and make two dogs very jealous.
Step 1: Measure out 250g of strong white bread flour and 250g of plain flour. Wonder what the goddamn difference is.
Step 2: Sift this floury goodness into a large bowl, along with 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Step 3: Next you get your yeast (fresh or otherwise, prepared as per the instructions on the packet) and crumble/pour in. A bit at a time add 500 ml of lukewarm water. The fact that it's lukewarm is very important, as I discovered. If it is too hot, the yeast gives up the ghost and dies all up on your batter. And if it's not hot enough, then, like me, it just won't get out of bed and be active at all.
Step 4: Beat it all together for a couple of minutes, then cover the bowl with a warm, damp tea towel. And then put it somewhere warm. I put it in one of our kitchen cupboards which is next to the boiler pipes. You're going to leave it there for up to two hours for the yeast to work it's magic, so if you're anything like me, you'll give the yeast a little pep talk, say "Good day sirs", and close the cupboard door.
Step 5: Wait two hours, or until the sky is a lovely shade of pink/purple:
Step 6: Get your bowl out of the cupboard, or wherever you put it. The batter should have risen some what, if the yeast heeded their pep talk at all.
Step 7: Dissolve 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in 150ml of lukewarm whole milk. To make the milk lukewarm I just popped it in the microwave for about a minute. In case you haven't noticed these crazy yeast boys are fussy when it comes to temperature. Stir the milk mix into the batter a bit at a time, until the batter is the texture of thick paint. You probably won't need all of the milk, I didn't, but that's ok.
Step 8: And now! The fun part. Grease up a nice big frying pan, or, like in my case, a griddle pan, if you have one. Get it all nice and sizzling hot. And make like pancakes. Ladle a small amount of batter at a time in smallish circles on the pan.
Step 9: Once the top gets little bubbles forming and drying out, its time to flip them over.
Step 10: Cook them for about another minute on the other side, and serve straight away whilst they are still way hot.
Step 11: You can serve them savoury, with cheese, and butter. Or sweet, with sugar or jam. But I warn you of this. If you serve them anywhere near your springer spaniels, they will not leave your side, or take their eyes off you.
Step 12: Make said dogs jealous by tucking the heezy in.
Ah, pikelets, fun for all the family, on an autumn afternoon.