A crumpet is a kind of flat, small round bread that is raised by yeast. They are about the same size as an English muffin. They are made in crumpet rings that are four inches wide and usually one inch deep. Crumpets are usually baked on a griddle and served toasted. A well-baked crumpet has a brown bottom and a spongey top that has many tiny holes. Crumpets are toasted whole, while English muffins are split and then toasted. After the baking, crumpets are spread with butter or cream and jam.
The word of crumpet may come from the Middle English word crompid (cake), or curled (cake). Or it may come from the past participle of the Middle English verb crumpen, which means to curl up. It could also have come from crumb, crump, or crooked, all Old English. Crumpet is also used as British slang for a particularly sexually attractive woman. It Australian slang, it is part of the expression: "not worth a crumpet", meaning that somebody or something is useless.
Crumpet...[Not known till in the 17th century], Wyclif has however used 'crompid cake'...which may be the antecedent of the name. "A cake of a loaf, a crusted cake spreynde with oyle, a crompid cake..."—Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, volume IV (p. 83)
The Oxford Companion to Food also says that the earliest published recipe for crumpets was by Elizabeth Raffald, in 1769. There, the "crompid cake" is mentioned as well with buckwheat griddle cakes so it is believed that there is a connection between crumpets and the buckwheat pancake.
Elizabeth Raffald mentions it in her book of The Experienced English Housekeeper. Her recipe is very similar to the modern crumpet recipe, especially in the baking, buttering, and serving.
- Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, 2010
- Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 230)
- The Experienced English Housekeeper, Elizabeth Raffald, [unabridged facsimile 1769 print with an introduction by Roy Shipperbottom [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1997