Concerning Crumpets

Crumpets have, it seems, been the trademark of the British tea-time for the past century, making them highly regarded to many and vital to some. But there is one niggling question that lies at the heart of this culinary staple — how should one have their crumpet?

This is a question which evades many the tentative newbie and experienced eater, which sprouts and blooms into countless other sub-questions like: ‘Is it ok to have jam on a crumpet?’, or, ‘Cheese wouldn’t hurt, would it?’ These questions have, of course, brought forth eruptions of violence between varying factions of crumpet eaters. However, this article will give a brave stab at clearing up the conflicts and disputes by hearing all sides of the battlefield. To help me with this, I am using information from various polls I carried out on Facebook in order to provide a broad collection of perspectives.  Let the judgement begin!

Perhaps the most popular of spreads in the field of crumpet eating are Nutella and Jam. Nutella has the contemporary air of pleasurable indulgence and sheer genius about it, making it a spread which belongs on any surface, whether it be toast or the kitchen floor. Jam, meanwhile, has that unique sweetness which is unmatched by any spread, combined with its comforting familiarity and the expansive varieties that it comes in. However, many of the voters found that Jam seemed a little out of place on a crumpet precisely because of its over-powering sweetness — seeming almost like a stranger on a crumpet. On the other hand, ardent jam fans were calling it “vital” when crumpets were on the menu.

The most popular spread was Nutella, outnumbering the jam spreaders easily. ASM radio manager, Morgan Lee, stated, “everything needs Nutella” — a clear piece of evidence supporting Nutella’s marriage with anything sweet.

Jam, Nutella and other spreads of this kind may seem strange to butter-lovers but, on the contrary, these spreads add a little adventure into crumpet eating. The interesting, almost explosive flavours break free from the familiar harmony of butter and, instead, explore and tantalise the tastebuds for a more inventive breakfast.

Of course, Crumpets can be combined with savoury spreads/toppings as well. The most prominent savoury topping in the poll was not meat, nor fish, nor humus, but cheese. Cheese is, perhaps, one of the more eccentric toppings for a crumpet and not a combination most people would think would be made in heaven. However, cheese is a substance which is able to morph and shift between different states when it comes to combining it with other foods, enabling it to compliment almost any savoury dish. This is very much the case, for some, when it comes to crumpets. Cheese provides the familiar savoury comfort that most butter-spreaders enjoy, and it doesn’t venture into the realms of the sweet and zingy. Cheese gives the crumpet something even more unique and wonderful: a tang, a creamy texture which takes your hand and leads you through a landscape of intrigue. Yet, the cheese faction is itself split by arguments over the respective superiority of the various cheese options; among the most controversial choices is that of ASM President, Harley Dalton, who swears by “plastic cheese singles” as the supreme topping, owing to “its soft melt on the natural heat of a freshly toasted crumpet, and a certain inimitable flavour that quite literally can’t be replicated outside of a laboratory.”

And the last to speak out are the purists — that fair breed of casual folk, such as myself, who are perfectly happy with butter on their crumpets. The butter complements the core taste of the crumpet itself, it doesn’t over-power it — we like to have a pleasant harmony between both spread and bass. In fact, 70% of the poll voters favoured butter over other spreads such as jam and Nutella. However, 30% of the voters were also open to other spreads for when the time called for them.

The variety of crumpet spreads and toppings are numerous and vary from person to person. But instead of disputing over jams or going to war over ‘alien’ toppings, let us see crumpets in a different light, this light: the crumpet topping reflects the person — their loves, their spirit of adventure and, of course, their tastes. Crumpets are mirrors to a person’s soul and the honoured guest at the breakfast table.