I have a confession…I’m a cooking/food show snob. With hundreds of them on the air and thousands on the internet, we are inundated from morning to night. I’ll admit I’m generally not a fan of the competition variety, like Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen. I lost interest in Top Chef after two seasons, mainly because I got no enjoyment out of watching food “professionals” stab each other in the back week after week. It was like watching “Master Chef meets Survivor.” I see more than enough drama working in a real life kitchen, thank you very much. Sadly, a great many popular American cooking/baking competitions thrive on and perpetuate a kind of cutthroat mentally that for me takes away the joy and passion for the craft. Knife Fight on Esquire Channel might be an exception, only because the setting and premise is pretty straightforward–two chefs battling against the clock in an actual restaurant kitchen–and there is mutual respect amongst the competitors. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a healthy dose of competition to bring out the best in people–just not when it also brings out the ugly.
This is why I’m a big fan of The Great British Bake Off. Aside from the incomparable wisdom of Mary Berry, the ascerbic wit of Paul Hollywood, and the cheekiness of presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, the show is all about challenging the contestants to strive for their personal best.
Yes, they are competing for the championship yet there is always a sense of sportsmanship and mutual respect. No one is fighting for equipment or ingredients. They each have their own fully-equipped, well-stocked stations. Call me sappy, but I love the fact that everyone goes in for the group hug when someone gets eliminated. Judges Paul and Mary aren’t sitting behind a table telling that week’s “loser” to pack up their tools and leave.
What I enjoy most about the show is while the bakers’ skill and creativity are being challenged every week, I’m also learning something in the process–like how to make the perfect Jaffra cake (had no idea it was something one actually made from scratch since I’ve only ever seen them prepackaged) or what constitutes an ideal arlette? I leave each episode with new found respect for the art that is my life and passion…and sometimes with a desire to whip up a batch of something quintessentially British…like crumpets.
Yield: about 1 dozen
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, scalded then cooled to warm
- 1 tsp. dry active yeast
- 2 tsp. honey or sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tsp. sea or Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda (dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm water)
Combine flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together yeast, warm milk and honey or sugar–then stir into flour mixture. Gradually whisk in warm water to form a batter. Cover and set aside in a warm, draft-free space for about 30-40 mins. Whisk in dissolve baking soda.
Heat a heavy skillet or griddle with a little vegetable on medium low heat. Place greased crumpet rings onto the heated surface. Fill each ring about halfway. Cook first side until bubbles form throughout the surface and the batter is set about 1/4″ all around the other edge (about 4-5 mins.) Carefully flip the crumpets and continue to cook second side for another 3-4 mins.
Serve warm with lots of butter and jam.