When it comes to breakfast breads, most of us are carb-loving connoisseurs. Toasts like wheat, rye, and sourdough are just the beginning. Scones, muffins — both blueberry and bran, biscuits and bagels make their way into our morning meal more commonly than we’d care to admit.
And of course you know the English muffin. It’s the sturdy, humble base to your oozing Eggs Benedict and the spongy exterior of your McDonald’s McMuffin. English muffins, and all of these other common carbs, are sold in the bakery and bread aisles of just about any grocery store nationwide. So that leaves the crumpet.
What the heck is it?
You’ve probably joked about tea and crumpets in your best stuffy-English accent before, but did you really know what you were talking about? Have you actually ever seen one in the States?
English muffins and crumpets are two entirely different creatures, but they have a lot in common, too. So let’s start there.
Crumpets and English muffins are both griddle cakes, meaning they are made in a stove top, cast-iron griddle. They’re both round and roughly the same size as a biscuit. They both have the same signature texture full of nooks and crannies, which makes them both great at absorbing melted butter, jam, and other toppings. They’re also both usually served exclusively at breakfast, brunch, or tea, and never for dinner.
But that’s pretty much with the similarities end.
You can easily identify a crumpet by small holes covering the top. Cooks achieve this by using a loose batter made with milk and baking soda. They’re cooked only on one side — allowing those bubbles to form at the surface.
English muffins are never made with milk, so the mixture is usually more of a yeast dough or sourdough than a batter, giving them more of a bread-like texture. They’re always toasted on both sides — a defining feature of an English muffin.
Still not sure what you’ve just been served? Crumpets are never split when served, while English muffins almost always are.
Another difference? Sit down for this one…
English muffins are actually not English at all. They were invented by Samuel Bath Thomas in New York City in 1874 and originally named the “toaster crumpet.”
The British weren’t largely even aware of the crumpet’s new competition until Thomas’ English Muffins began importing them from America in the 1990s. Today, they’re available in British and Irish supermarkets, but they’re marketed as “American muffins.”
Which is better?
As long as they are able to deliver melted butter and delicious jam, both have a place at our breakfast and brunch tables!