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PIKELETS FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

PikeletsThere seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding what Pikelets are, and the proliferation of recipe and cooking web sites over the last ten years has probably done nothing more than make things even more confusing. So before anyone starts to get on their high horse as to what Pikelets are let me remind you that the English language started right here in the UK. So what the Australians call Pikelets are not Pikelets . . . or are they!

Pikelets are basically a thin crumpet . . . or a crumpet is a thick Pikelet! In other words the recipe for each is very similar and the biggest difference is how they are cooked.

Why they are called Crumpets or Pikelets seems rather confused. There is some resemblance to the word crumpet in some of the old English words - crompid means cake or the word crompeht means a flat cake, literally full of crumples and wrinkled. There are some suggestions that Crumpet comes from the Anglo-Saxon crump meaning to curl up but I can't see that as there is nothing curled up about a crumpet. Then again the modern crumpet is not what they would have been eating in Anglo-Saxon times.

I have been unable to find any sources as to where the name Pikelet comes from. There is some suggestion that the name originates in Australia or New Zealand . . . but I am not sure that is necessarily correct. Everything you read about crumpets or Pikelets seems to be contradictory. For example, it is claimed the Welsh call Pikelets 'crempog' but having looked at various recipes for 'crempog' they appear to be small pancakes - most commonly called Scotch Pancakes these days. (Any Australians or Kiwis out there like to enlighten me as to the origins of the name Pikelets!)

It would be reasonable to assume that there would have been no single recipe for crumpets of Pikelets. The recipe ingredients are very simple and there must have been many regional variations of this simple mixture cooked on a hot stone or griddle. With little or no travel from one area to another there simply wouldn't be one recipe, there would be regional variations.

It is also suggested that the modern day crumpet is the invention of Victorian bakers so where does that leave us?

Crumpets are baked on a griddle in a metal ring and, because of the action of the heat from below on the yeast and the raising agent, bubbles are formed quickly and burst at the surface, giving an uneven, pitted top. Pikelets are thinner, and are baked on a griddle without a ring to hold them. Pikelets are also cooked on both sides.

Whatever the truth about crumpets or Pikelets we can still enjoy them for what they are.

PIKELETS RECIPE


Ingredients for Pikelets

8 oz / 225g strong white flour
1 level tsp salt
½ oz / 15g fresh yeast
¼ pt / 150ml warm milk*
¼ pt warm water*
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp cold water
1 egg white, lightly beaten

* It is important to have the right temperature (40°C / 104°F) when mixing so that the mixture will be warm enough for the yeast to start fermenting quickly. If the temperature is too high it will start to kill the yeast so it is best to use a thermometer to gauge the temperature which must be no higher than 43°C / 110°F.

How to make Pikelets

  • Sieve the flour and salt together into a large bowl and mix in the yeast.
  • Combine the warm milk and warm water and pour into the bowl with the flour.
  • Beat the mixture vigorously for 5 minutes to achieve a smooth batter, then cover and put in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the risen mixture starts to drop.
  • Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the cold water and beat it into the batter.
  • Completely fold in the beaten egg white to produce a thick batter the consistency of whipping cream.
  • To cook the Pikelets, lightly grease a griddle, hot plate or heavy-based frying pan and heat until a drop of the batter sizzles immediately on contact.
  • Drop a full tablespoon of batter on to the hot surface and cook until the top of the pikelet is no longer wet.
  • Turn pikelet over with a thin spatula or palette knife and cook the other side until it is lightly browned.
  • Serve either hot from the pan, or leave to cool then toast and butter.

To make crumpets:

Prepare the batter with 1 oz / 25g more flour and cook the one side only , with the batter contained in a greased 3 inch / 8cm ring on the cooking surface. After cooking leave to cool and then serve toasted and buttered.

Makes 12 Pikelets

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