A buttered crumpet

A crumpet /ˈkrʌmpɨt/ ( listen) is a savoury griddle cake made from flour and yeast. It is eaten mainly in the United Kingdom and other nations of the Commonwealth. Crumpets are somewhat similar in appearance, not in flavor, to North American pancakes, where both have pores caused by expanding air bubbles.



Crumpets may have been an Anglo-Saxon invention.[1] In early times, they were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle, rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era which were made with yeast. The crumpet-makers of the English Midlands and London developed the characteristic holes, by adding extra baking powder to the yeast dough. The term itself may refer to a crumpled or curled-up cake, or have Celtic origins relating to the Breton krampoez meaning a "thin, flat cake" and the Welsh crempog or crempot, a type of pancake.[2] However, since many English words share a heritage with other languages, it may be cognate with the similar German word krumm (from Middle High German krump, krum) which means "bent".[3]

English crumpet

Crumpets are generally circular roughly 7 cm in diameter and roughly 2 cm thick. Their shape comes from being restrained in the pan/griddle by a shallow ring. They have a characteristic flat top with many small pores and a chewy and spongy texture. They may be cooked until ready to eat warm from the pan, but are frequently left slightly undercooked so that they may be cooled and stored before being eaten freshly toasted. In Australia and New Zealand, branded square crumpets can be purchased from supermarkets, designed to fit easily in a standard toaster.[4]

Crumpets are generally eaten hot with butter, with or without a second (sweet or savoury) topping. Popular second toppings are honey, poached egg, jam, Marmite, salt, marmalade, peanut butter, cheese, golden syrup, hummus, lemon curd, maple syrup, Vegemite and Nutella. The butter may be omitted, but a phrase very commonly associated with crumpets is "dripping with butter".

In England, there is also a regional variant of the crumpet called the pikelet. It is usually made from the same batter as a crumpet, but the way in which it differs from a crumpet varies from place to place. In some parts of England (for example in the Midlands, around Wolverhampton) a pikelet is simply a crumpet without holes. In other parts (for example, Lancashire) it has holes, but is wider, thinner and more irregular than a crumpet because it is made without being restrained by a mould, and so spreads in the pan (or griddle) while cooking.[5]

In other areas, particularly Wales, Australia and New Zealand, a 'pikelet' is very different from a crumpet -- the word describes something very similar to what in Scotland and North America is called a pancake and in most parts of England is called a Scotch pancake.[citation needed]

Scottish crumpet

A Scottish fruit crumpet folded over, behind a Scottish pancake.

A Scottish crumpet is essentially a pancake cooked in a slightly different way, made from the same ingredients as a Scottish pancake, and is about 180 mm (7 inches) diameter and 8 mm (0.3 inches) thick. They are available plain, or as a fruit crumpet with raisins baked in, and are not reheated before serving; condiments include jam, vegemite and marmite. The ingredients include a raising agent, usually baking powder, and different proportions of eggs, flour and milk which create a thin batter. Unlike a pancake, they are cooked to brown on one side only, resulting in a smooth darker side where it has been heated by the griddle, then lightly cooked on the other side which has holes where bubbles have risen to the surface during cooking.[6] It bears little resemblance to the English crumpet.

This is the normal kind of crumpet in Scottish bakers' shops, tea rooms, and cafés, though the English type of crumpet is often obtainable in supermarkets in addition to the Scottish kind.

Slang usage

In the U.K. the term "crumpet" is sometimes used to refer to an attractive woman, often as the phrase "a bit of crumpet".[7] This is similar to the use of the word "tart" as slang for a prostitute. The term is generally considered offensive, though at an earlier time, the word was more commonly used as a term of endearment.[8] A related term is thinking man's crumpet. Performer Emilie Autumn has used the name "Bloody Crumpets" for her backing band, with bloody being another U.K. slang term.

See also


  1. ^ Ann Hagen, A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food Processing and Consumption, 1992, p.20
  2. ^ [1] Online Dictionary:Crumpet
  3. ^ Crumpet, Krumkake, Krummhorn - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.]
  4. ^ Commercial website "Golden Crumpets"
  5. ^ Guardian article about tea-time treats
  6. ^ Traditional Scottish Recipes - Scottish Crumpets
  7. ^ Crumpet: A Very British Sex Symbol, documentary film by Tony Livesey (2005)
  8. ^ Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, Tony Thorne. London: A&C Black Publishers (1990), p.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • crumpet — ► NOUN 1) a thick, flat cake with a soft, porous texture, eaten toasted and buttered. 2) Brit. informal women regarded as objects of sexual desire. ORIGIN of unknown origin …   English terms dictionary

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  • crumpet — n British a woman, or women viewed collectively as sex objects. Crumpet or a bit of crumpet date from the last decade of the 19th century and conform to a much older pattern of likening women to cakes (e.g. tart), delicacies (e.g. crackling), etc …   Contemporary slang

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  • crumpet — Australian Slang 1. woman considered as a sexual object: a nice bit of crumpet ; 2. (of a male) sexual intercourse with a woman: Had any crumpet lately? ; 3. head: soft in the crumpet …   English dialects glossary

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