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My family love crumpets especially during the winter months when they really fit in the comfort food category. There's only two of us living here but my son is a frequent and always hungry visitor and he too has a crumpet weakness and because they disappear so quickly I usually buy the largest size at the cheapest price - both Tesco and Sainsbury's sell twelve for 67p. Bargain!
However recently I have found myself reading quite a number of crumpet reviews which in general seem to praise the more expensive brands and decry the cheaper alternatives and I am forced to ask myself just how different can crumpets be? This was my first mistake because searching on the internet I see there are different types of crumpet even within the UK. The ones I refer to are in fact English crumpets which are made from a thick batter containing yeast and cooked in rings (traditionally about 3 inches in diameter) within a frying pan. When cooking, little bubbles rise to the surface making the mass of little holes on top. Apparently Scottish and Welsh crumpets are quite different being made from a batter mix without yeast, much larger and thinner and often folded over before eating - seemingly more reminiscent of English pancakes! All very confusing!
My second mistake was in ordering a couple of packs of Kingmill (English) crumpets on this week's Tesco online order. At 75p for six they are double the price of supermarkets' own brands but you can't be too parsimonious when conducting consumer research! Kingsmill is a brand I have never really considered before apart from eating their bread occasionally but, visiting their website I discovered they are part of Allied Bakeries which also includes Allisons, Burgens and Sunblest. Yes, unfortunately it's yet another conglomerate but, as I usually buy one or other of the big five supermarkets' own brands, why should I worry too much?
I just had to eat a couple for an early lunch as soon as they were delivered! Removing them from the standard, look alike (cardboard and cellophane) wrapping which seems to envelop all such products, I immediately notice that they are about the same diameter as those I usually buy (around 3 inches) but much thicker. After a minute or so in the toaster, they emerge crisp on the outside but still spongy within. I smother them in an olive oil spread and notice how quickly it melts and sinks into the myriad of small craters on the crumpets' surface. I add a suggestion of marmite, arm myself with sheets of kitchen roll to mop up greasy dribbles and sit down to enjoy!
I realise that whereas I am used to nibbling at cheaper brands I can actually sink my teeth into these. They are wonderfully chewy and my tongue can explore all the little bubbles which permeate the entire crumpet. Cheaper brands are so flat by comparison one can hardly notice the interior texture. I am glad that I am alone and therefore the melted spread which I cannot prevent dribbling onto my chin does not embarrass me and I am transported back to the crumpets I used to know in my youth. How could I ever have forgotten what I was missing buying cheaper alternatives? So why was my purchase a mistake? Because I know that even during credit crunch times I will never again settle for economy version crumpets.
However am I really getting less for my money? The thing that strikes me when I look further into the boring facts is that none of crumpet packs I have managed to find, after searching Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco online sites, give details of weight. Price comparisons are based on "units". Thus supermarkets' own crumpets cost on around 6p each whereas Kingsmill cost 12p (coincidentally the same price as Warburtons) but this is not comparing like with like because Kingsmill are so much thicker. Maybe they are not twice the size but I would like to see weight comparisons which would be less misleading. I thought that details of weight had to be included by law but it appears this cannot be the case.
I wonder if it is worth including nutritional information in this review because, whilst crumpets may not be particularly unhealthy, it's what you chose to put on them which will probably count more on the calorie and other undesirable statistics front. But in brief each Kingsmill crumpet contains 99 calories( 5% recommended daily amount), 1.3g sugar ( 1% RDA), 0.4g fat ( 1% RDA), 0.1g saturates (1% RDA) and salt 1.1g ( 19% RDA). Thus it's only really the salt content which needs to be watched. Potential allergens are wheat and gluten.
Because, for me crumpets are just made for lashings of butter or at least some other oily equivalent I should not go near them when dieting but, on the other hand, where's the harm in a little indulgence now and again? They are just so versatile and can be eaten with virtually any topping; jam, honey, cream cheese, peanut butter, beans, scrambled eggs .... the list could go on and on. I feel hunger pangs just thinking about it and so now I am off to see if the family have left any in the bread bin. Chances are they haven't!
Very descriptive and very informative - I had no idea that there were different styles of crumpet in different areas.
These sound a bit like the Warburton's ones - they are much fluffier than, say, the Tesco verson, too.
pgn0 08.04.2009 21:54
A wonderful comparison of my own preference, Tesco's 8 for 50p or thereabouts, with a more "upmarket" variety. Also a nice introduction to the vagaries of the various regional discrepancies of crumpetdom, and a particularly lascivious streak in describing the mouth-feel... excellent!
tune57 02.04.2009 17:06
Lovely with lots of butter, sod the calories, that's what I say x