Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crumpets. An unsuccessful first attempt.

I was introduced to crumpets on my trip to Seattle when I visited The Crumpet Shop.  BF and I completely fell in love with these crumpets, a taste which I would describe as being a cross between an English muffin and pancakes.  The fluffy, chewy English treats can be eaten sweet with some homemade jam or honey.  They can also be eaten savory with something like pesto or eggs.

Since coming back from Seattle, I've been wanting to recreate our crumpet experience. I purchased some crumpet molds . I found a few crumpet recipes, all claiming to be quite easy. Of course once I saw yeast in the ingredient list, I was a bit worried.

I chose a recipe I found on Test with Skewer. She posted two recipes, but I chose the chewy one because that was the texture I was looking for. My first attempt ended up being a complete disaster.  I don't think it is the recipe, but rather my own personal issues with working with yeast. After letting the dough sit, it became very thick and sticky, like bread dough. I think the dough was supposed to be more liquid like pancake batter, but mine wasn't. The sticky dough was really hard to put into my crumpet molds.

Once put in, the dough simply would not cook. Only the bottom of the crumpets cooked, but I couldn't get the middle to cook. I had to slice each in half and cook both sides. They ended up tasty crispy and not at all fluffy and chewy. They were edible, but they tasted more like toasted english muffins rather than crumpets.

I'm not quite sure where I went wrong, I'll have to try this again. Advice anyone?

Crumpets (found on Test with Skewer, who adapted from a recipe by Dead Man Espresso café, published in September 2010 issue of Delicious magazine)


450g plain flour
7g sachet active dry yeast
300 ml milk
250 ml hot water
Melted butter (unsalted) for greasing

1. Combine the flour and yeast in a large bowl. Mix the milk and hot water together. Make sure it’s not too hot or it can kill the yeast.

2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in  the milk mixture, while mixing all the time. Mix until well combined. 

3. Cover the batter and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

4. Heat a frying pan (preferably non-stick) over medium heat, then grease the crumpet rings. Place the rings in the pan to heat gently, then very carefully, without deflating the batter, pop about 2 tablespoons in each egg-ring. Fry very gently until the top is set (about 6-7 minutes), then turn over and cook the other side. Make sure the top is set or it will get very messy, and try to keep the egg rings on when turning, it helps the crumpet keep its shape.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smashburger Mission Valley

7610 Hazard Center
San Diego, California 92108

After a good experience at the sneak peek of Smashburger in Del Mar, I was excited to see another location opening in Mission Valley, which is closer to where I live.

Since Smashburger is a chain, I thought the food at the Mission Valley location would be similar to the food at the Del Mar location. But my experience ended up being vastly different.

I ordered a mushroom and swiss burger.

One of the things I had loved during my Del Mar experience was that the bun stayed dry. The bottom bun for this burger was soggy and oily. Also it seemed like the patty was too wide for the bun. Most of the meat was outside the bun area.  The worst part was that the meat was extremely oily.  At first, I thought it was a result of the melted swiss cheese, but when I tried BF's burger, it was also super oily. It ended up being too oily for me to even finish.

I also got a side of vegetable frites, which I had heard good things about.  Carrots, beans and asparagus are flash fried without any batter and seasoned.  Because they are flash fried, the vegetables retained their crunchiness. The seasoning made the vegetables pretty tasty and I guess it's a healthier alternative to fries.

BF got the bacon cheeseburger.  He got a side of the smashfries we had enjoyed last time and he also got a side of chili. He thought the burger was too oily as well, and his bun was soggy.

He liked the chili though. I thought the chili was alright, but nothing special.

My favorite thing of the night were the fries.  I like rosemary and olive oil they are cooked in.

I probably won't be back at this location. I haven't yet tried the La Jolla location. Perhaps I'll try it next to see if it matches my Del Mar experience.




Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Muffin Tops

I bought a muffin top pan a while back, but I've only used it once so far to make blueberry muffin tops.  So recently I decided to make some chocolate chunk muffin tops.

I had a hard time spreading this dough onto the muffin top pan because it was pretty sticky.  The muffin tops didn't bake up as puffy and prettily as I wanted.

Eating these giant muffin tops are a bit like eating muffin cookies. I've always loved the tops of muffins, but for some reason these muffin tops don't give me the same feeling as eating the tops off of muffins.

I'll keep trying some other recipes, so my pan doesn't go to waste.

Chocolate Chunk Muffin Tops (adapted from Dorie Greenspan recipe, found on Susi's Kochen Und Backen Adventures)


3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used bittersweet baking chips by Ghiradelli)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Butter or spraymuffin top pan.

3. Melt the butter and half of the chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from the heat.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a  rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Dived the batter evenly among the muffins cups.

5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffin tops comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool.