Elizabeth David, in English Bread and Yeast Cookery, recommends a batter made by increasing the milk in her crumpet batter from 550ml to 700ml (for 450g flour). Many recipes for crumpets call for bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in a little warm water, to be whisked through the batter about 30 minutes before cooking. This reacts with the acidic batter to act as an additional leavening agent, helping to give crumpets their distinctive honeycombed texture. David suggests omitting this step when making pikelets. Andrew Whitley, in Bread Matters, goes further and recommends against bicarbonate of soda even in crumpet batter, saying "...it is unnecessary and can give a slightly soapy flavour to the product." Whitley's recipe uses his ciabatta dough made with 50g extra water. Both he and David recommend a 50/50 mix of strong white flour and plain flour, as strong American wheat will produce too strong a gluten network, giving "...a tight, bound result with the texture of carpet underlay" (Whitley).
The following recipe is based on one we used at Ashburton Cookery School, which is basically a half quantity of the recipe from English Bread and Yeast Cookery. You might want to add 1 to 2 tsp sugar for a slightly faster rise and, if you follow Whitley's advice, omit the bicarbonate of soda.
Pikelets (makes at least a dozen)
- 115g strong white flour
- 110g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 300ml milk
- 10g fresh yeast or 1/4 tsp fast-action dried yeast
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 60ml warm water
- Whisk together the milk, oil and salt. Sift the flours on top and sprinkle over the dried yeast, or gently rub in the fresh. Whisk until well combined.
- Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 1 to 2 hours. (If you want them for breakfast, you can make the batter the night before and refrigerate at this stage.)
- [Optional] Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the warm water and whisk into the batter. Leave to prove for a further 30 minutes.
- Warm a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Spoon in a ladelful of batter and cook gently until it forms a skin with lots of little holes. Turn over and cook the other side until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack while you cook the rest of the batch.
- Serve warm with a generous knob of butter.