“A nice bit of crumpet” – a rather outdated expression, to mean that someone is sexually attractive. Needs to be used with exactly this collocation. You can’t say “You are a crumpet”; that doesn’t work. It has to be used as a non-countable noun. [For example, if you are at your daughter’s school sports day and the PE teachers are young and very fit, you could text your friend and say “OOOH! Plenty of crumpet here!” and that would be perfect English. Wouldn’t it, Nicer Kate? WOULDN’T IT?]
The phrase is a contentious one. It was first used in the 1930s, to describe an attractive woman. So clearly, it is sexist and only focuses on someone’s looks, which is Not Good. However, having conducted some extensive research (by which we mean asking our friends to comment on social media, extensively) it seems that most of us would still be secretly a bit chuffed1 to be described as ‘a bit of crumpet’, whether we are male or female.
As long as the person saying it wasn’t a creepy old man, saying it with a wink. Or Donald Trump. Nobody wants that.
The phase ‘the thinking man (or woman)’s crumpet’ is used more often by the media these days. It means that they are more attractive because of their intelligence or wit, although they do have to be quite physically attractive in the first place. Examples might be Helen Mirren or Benedict Cumberbatch [Or us, Nicer Kate, don’t forget us]. The cynical amongst us might also say that it can also be seen as the media’s way of being sexist, but somehow getting away with it.
Crumpets themselves, however are universally popular. You need to eat them hot, covered in butter, then topped with jam, honey or (in my case as I type) Marmite.
Their name, incidentally, seems to come from the word ‘crumple’ – they aren’t pretty things, and do look a bit like a crumpled dishcloth, but again, trust us, they are the stuff of childhood, (and adulthood) happiness…
- 175g/6oz strong white flour
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 2 x 7g sachets instant yeast
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 350ml/12fl oz warm milk
- 150-200ml/5-7fl oz warm water
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- sunflower oil for cooking
(you will also need some metal rings to cook the crumpets in)
- Weigh the flours in to a bowl. Add the yeast and stir through the flour.
- Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk and pour onto the flour. Using a wooden spoon beat until you have a smooth batter. This will take 3-4 minutes and is hard work, but is essential to produce the holes in the crumpets.
- Cover and leave for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. The batter will rise and then begin to fall. You will see marks on the side of the bowl where the batter was before it dropped.
- Mix the bicarbonate of soda and salt with the warm water and beat it into the batter. Add about ¾ of the water and keep adding it until you get a double cream consistency. Cover and rest for 20 minutes.
- Heat a flat griddle or heavy based pan. Lightly grease the inside of four metal crumpet rings. Lightly grease the griddle. Sit the rings on the griddle over a medium heat.
- Drop two dessert spoons of mixture into each ring. After 4-5 minutes bubbles should appear and the surface should be set. Carefully turn the crumpets in their rings and cook for a further three minutes.
- Serve immediately or leave to cool and then toast before eating with plenty of butter.
- chuffed – (informal) pleased, often quietly so, or ‘chuffed to bits’.
© 2016 Kayte & Nicer Kate – authors assert moral rights