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What's the difference between a crumpet and an English muffin?

I'm not English, nor British, nor pretend to be ...

But I'd like to be enlightened as to the difference between a crumpet and an English muffin, assuming there is one.

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  1. A crumpet is like a thick pancake with lots of holes in it (the better to hold the melted butter and Seville orange marmalade). It's cooked on the bottom only (needs toasting to be good). A bit wet in texture. You toast it whole. I want one right now!
    An English muffin is drier and is cooked on both sides, which are usually dredged in cornmeal at least in the US. You split it horizontally (preferably with a fork) before toasting it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      That's pretty much what I wanted to say. The crumpet is kind of spongy and made from a batter whereas the English muffin is more bready and made from dough.

      Ooo, I just realized I have some in the freezer at home. But, alas, I am at work. Now I really want a crumpet with butter and strawberry jam.

      1. re: Sooeygun

        Salted butter and thin-cut bitter orange marmalade for me please.

    2. Man oh man.. in Toronto, in the 1960's, you could find crumpets everywhere. The baker (we actually had home delivery in those days!) always had them in his tray. I had never seen, or even heard of, an English muffin until McD's introduced their breakfast here.

      Toasted crumpets with butter and some crunchy peanut butter were a real treat - as buttertart notes, the holes capture all the melted butter, and the heat makes the peanut butter even creamier, while the nuts provide a great textural counterpoint.

      But most stores don't carry crumpets these days. Pity.

      3 Replies
      1. re: FrankD

        Most stores in Toronto? Say what? They're in every supermarket in Calgary, and I'd be shocked if that weren't the case in Toronto.

        1. re: John Manzo

          I haven't found a grocery store in Toronto that doesn't carry them. At least those in the Loblaw family (No Frills, Valumart, Loblaw, etc) that is.

          1. re: Sooeygun

            Maybe FrankD meant freshly baked crumpets? I've only had the packaged ones, but I bet bakery-made crumpets would be better...

      2. well I am not going to agree with buttertart. For me a crumpet is nothing like a thick pancake because a pancake is sort of sweet and soda tasting and a crumpet is neither sweet nor tastes of baking soda. And in my opinion it is toasted both sides. It is kinda wet and spongy in texture and airy and butter melts right through to the base.
        An English muffin is not English for starters, we never had them in England till more recently.

        2 Replies
        1. re: smartie

          I agree: a crumpet is nothing like a pancake. It's a spongier, wetter version of what Americans call an English Muffin.

          1. re: pikawicca

            Stop - you're both wrong.

            First, smartie, buttertart did not say it was "toasted" on one side; she said it was "cooked" on one side, which is true. The bottom has a flat smooth base, and the top is full of airholes. I understand where bt is coming from; if you cooked a pancake for a long time without flipping it, the bottom would be flat and the top would be full of holes. I do agree that the taste is different.

            And, pika, an English muffin bears as much resemblance to a crumpet as pita bread does to naan, which is to say "not much". They're both breads, but the resemblance ends there. English muffins have a crumbly interior; crumpets don't. People cut English muffins in half; crumpets, no. People make sandwiches out of English muffins; if there's a crumpet sandwich in existence, I've never seen it. Crumpets exist solely to convey butter and the spread of your choice warmly into your mouth. Crumpets have a long history and tradition in the old Empire, and the phrase "tea and crumpets" has entered the vernacular. "Coffee and an English muffin"? Not so much.

        2. A Crumpet is made from a yeasted batter sort of like a pancake (but in a metal crumpet ring on a griddle). An English Muffin cut from a rolled dough (like a biscuit dough) then cooked on a griddle. They are both delicious when homemade and fresh.

          I like butter and Lyle's Golden Syrup on my crumpets and only butter on my English Muffin.

          4 Replies
          1. re: fmed

            A concise description (of course the rolled dough is yeasted, unlike the usual biscuit dough, and yes I am aware there are such things as angel biscuits that have both chemical leavener and yeast).
            Crikey! How many crumpets can you fit in your toaster/angels dance on the head of a pin? For that matter, where are pancakes sweet, other than from what you put on them? I meant as kindly noted by FrankD that a crumpet looks like a thick pancake cooked on one side and all holey because of it, not that it paricularly tasted like pancakes.
            I also grew up in the '60s, in southwestern Ontario, where crumpets were indeed available in grocery stores and they are also fairly amazingly available in my Brooklyn, NY supermarket. I also never saw an English muffin except on visits to the US and still think of them as an American food. (They are very good toasted with cream cheese, as eaten in my Iowan husband's family.) Do they even have them in the UK?
            Now would someone please get the kettle on and make a nice pot of tea, and someone else toast the breadstuffs of choice, and we can all settle down to enjoy them?

            1. re: buttertart

              to an English palate pancakes are slightly sweet as are many American breads. It is a common complaint amongst ex-pats.

              You can get 2 crumpets into one side of a toaster, although they are always better under the grill (broiler) and turned. They then steam slightly while grilling.

              English (sic!) muffins appeared in England in the 80s. Before that maybe they were just called muffins though I had never seen one except in the US.

              1. re: smartie

                The recipe I use for pancakes has no sugar in it, but I expect commercial pancake mixes have it in them.

            2. re: fmed

              English Muffins are not cut from a Dough like Biscuits. They are a Yeasted batter that is poured in to a Ring and cooked on a Griddle on both sides.
              There are recipes that call for forming the batter by hand but these doughs are not Hydrated enough to yield the proper texture.

            3. Wolfermans (online/catalog) sells crumpets and every other breakfast food. They are definetly sweet. A cross between a pancake and a waffle. They have a lot of different flavors. I dont know if they are authentic but they are good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: snowwish

                If they are sweet, they aren't authentic. The recipes I have seen have only enough sugar as food for the yeast. Say 1 tsp for a dozen crumpets.

                1. Crumpets are spongy when uncooked and harder when cooked. I like mine with grated cheese on them. Toast flat side in toaster oven or under broiler first, then flip over and toast a little on the holey side. Then put a bit of butter and then added grated cheese. Splendid! I did find some in a supermarket in Virginia when I was there a few years ago. They are in every supermarket in England. Another thing I like is potato farls which are kind of like a savoury pancake made with potato. You toast them and have them with eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes - the full English - you can toast them and add cheese. And if any of you get the opportunity to try Staffordshire oatcakes, don't pass them up. Very hard to find here. They are like a thin pancake made with oats and I have had them grilled and served with melted cheese and butter.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cathodetube

                    I am a purist when it comes to eating crumpets and I like just butter, branching out into jam if I'm feeling a little crazy. I had quite a few problems making them myself actually but managed to crack it in the end so if it might be useful for anyone else here is the post on it.


                    1. re: FoodStories

                      So glad you posted this - I've also never been able to get them right at home. Your blog is a lot of fun (oh no, more ways to spend time glued to the computer).
                      Was in the Brooklyn, NY Trader Joe's - they had crumpets (and a cinnamon version, not appealing in the least) - and they were flying out of the store.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        I get crumpets regularly from the Manhattan TJ, where it sells the regular kind. I've always thought of crumpets as English muffins on steriods.

                  2. I believe that an "English muffin", as understood by Americans, is an American invention. I had never heard of one, or seen one, until I visited the US in about 1980.

                    Some further research suggests that the word "muffin" originated in the UK and we do have a nursery rhyme "The Muffin Man" which is early 19th century. So I suspect that it's a product that used to be made here but went out of fashion many years ago. I can't find any suggestion as to how closely it might have resembled an American style "English muffin". They've been available in the UK for a few years now (although just called muffins - to distinguish them from "American muffins" - which are the breakfasty sponge cake thingies). Now it's a small bread roll, usually split, toasted and eaten at breakfast.

                    Crumpets, on the other hand, have a long and continuing tradition as an "afternoon tea" item along with cakes. Not bready at all and I will go roughly with buttertart's description. That said, I suspect there are few folk who make them form scratch these days. Certainly we buy them from the supermarket and pop them in the toaster. Then smother them in outrageous quantities of good quality raspbery jam.

                    If I was to make crumpets, I'd turn to my trusty Delia Smith book. St Delia says you warm milk and water, then add yeast and sugar, till you get a good head on it. Then add this to flour to make a batter, leaving it to ferment for a while. She advises the use of cooking rings, to maintain shape & depth, in a frying pan. Cook a few minutes until the holes appear then flip for another minute to finish the cooking.

                    However, what you really want to come across are pikelets - which are, by far, the best of this sort of thing.

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: Harters

                      For pikelets, just make a crumpet recipe and make them freeform. They are like flatter crumpets.

                      1. re: Harters

                        And, for any UK residents wanting to take the plunge with crumpet making, I spotted yesterday that Lakeland is selling crumpet rings. Presumably a new line as they were near the tills.

                        1. re: Harters

                          I grew up in Oxfordshire in the '60s and we had 'English' muffins all the time. And crumpets, which I prefer (with butter and salt, since you ask). Muffins are definitely NOT an American thing (though obviously we never called them 'English').

                          1. re: Peg

                            a "muffin" (found in various guises in the UK and the US) and an "english muffin" (native to the US) are entirely different things.

                            1. re: chowyadoin99

                              Why do you think an English muffin is native to the US? Haven't you heard the song - Oh do you know the muffin man, the muffin man......he hung out in Drury Lane n London.

                              1. re: cathodetube

                                As I mentioned back in 2010, there is the early 19th century nursery rhyme which refers to the "muffin man". As mentioned that suggests there was certainly a product then, although I've no idea whether our product was the same as what Americans would call an "English muffin".

                                In parts of north west England, the word "muffin" is used as a word for a bread roll (as might barmcake, cob, bap, batch). These are not the same product that Americans would call an "English muffin", being much larger and not as dense in texture.

                                1. re: cathodetube

                                  The product that we call an "English muffin" is native to the US. It was made by an English baker in New York who wanted to make something similar to what his mom used to make. His creation is not like a crumpet or what Americans call a "muffin."

                                  When I lived in England, I saw them occasionally but I don't remember them ever being popular or considered a food commonly eaten in England.

                                  1. re: calumin

                                    Sorry, don't agree with you. They are called English muffins outside England, as they are from England, and are not the same, as you have stated, as the cakes Americans call a muffin, which is more like a cupcake without frosting. A crumpet is not pulled apart or cut to toast like a muffin is. Crumpets are also more spongey in their makeup. In England, English muffins are just called muffins. I have lived in South East England since the Seventies and have always seen them.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        As paulj's link confirms, American style "English muffins" are now commonly available in supermarkets in England (and, presumably, in the rest of our country).

                                        When I first visited America, in 1980, I was intrigued to see "English muffins", as I had never seen such a product in north west England and it was quite a few years, probably well into the 1990s, before I did see them. I suspect that they gained in popularity as increasing numbers of Britons started to holiday in America (mainly Florida).

                                        It is always possible that, prior to this, they were only regionally available - cathodetube indicates they were available in south east England.

                                        Crumpets have pretty mcuh always been available

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Some sources claim that the 'muffin man' distributed these. The basic definition is a yeast bread baked on the griddle.

                                          Welsh Cakes look like a baking powder version, a griddle baked drop scone. There are various forms of bannock and unleavened oat cakes.

                                          says Thomas was from Plymouth. It also claims he adapted crumpets or these Welsh cakes.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Welsh cakes are quite different from crumpets and muffins. More akin to a scone in texture, although akin in cooking method to a drop scone (aka Scotch pancake)

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              Using baking powder/soda is going give different texture. Starting with a yeast sponge gives a bread like texture and void spaces.

                                              Though I read someplace that extra baking powder may be added to crumpet batter to produce those top holes.

                                          2. re: Harters

                                            I don't remember having muffins growing up but do remember crumpets, Doesn't mean they weren't available down south just that my mother didn't buy them or my memory's failing in my dotage.

                                            Interesting piece on Great British Bake off about the history of the muffin.


                              2. re: Harters

                                That crumpet recipe (with a sponge) is similar to an English Muffin recipe in older Joy of Cooking books. I wonder if the commercial English Muffins are baked/cooked on a two sided grill, or flipped before the holes on the top have time to set.

                                Crumpets look as though the top was never cooked directly, or maybe they were turned late in the cooking, so the holes are fixed. You can get the same effect with pancakes. Turn them early and both sides are smooth, turn them late (or not at all), and the holes remain.

                              3. It's a brass musical instrument with a flared bell and a bright, penetrating tone. The modern instrument has the tubing looped to form a straight-sided coil, with three valves.

                                The other is a small round bread split in half and toasted, traditionally a breakfast item.

                                Oh......a crumpet? F' if I know.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                  Thanks for the laugh. Are you yucking up someones yum?

                                  Sorry but, I don't have an answer to the op's question.

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    Crumpet - that's what Mr Lucas was always on the lookout for