Somehow I had gotten it into my head that crumpets would be an excellent road trip food. Not like, store bought crumpets. No. Crumpets from scratch. So in our trip preparations we bought egg rings and yeast and Sunita dutifully let me make my usual overambitious and absurd plans. However, the desert is decidedly less ubiquitous with its gas bbqs than other parts of Australia. So I had been putting off the crumpet endeavours. But after a full day of hiking and swimming and being in the sun, making and eating real food sounded like a hassle. And for once we had heaps of daylight left after arriving at our roomy desert camp for the evening. I decided today was the day. The day for crumpets. The perfect road trip food.
So I retrieved my little handwritten recipe and set about the process. Our soymilk was cold and I needed warm milk for yeast activating purposes. I could’ve used our camp stove. But instead, I set the container I had chosen, our large jar normally reserved for iced tea (our best reprieve from the heat), on the hood of the car. Sunita noticed this, and suggested popping the hood instead. Which I agreed was, in fact, a superior method. So there we were with the hood open and a jar of yeasty sugar milk resting on our seemingly ever-warm engine. (A fellow camper checked to make sure we weren’t having car issues.) Next, everything else gets mixed in and then it rests for forty-five minutes and gets all fermenty. This was the point where I set it well away from us since the flies had taken particular interest in it’s rich, quickly souring aroma. Also, where I realized, in hindsight, that I should’ve halved the recipe. We’d be eating crumpets forever.
We were cramped together in the way way back of our Honda CR-V. It was too warm to be in the car, but the alternative – being outside, but covered in flies – was worse. Would you rather? In an almost unprecedented scenario, I’d choose heat. Anyways. It occurred to me, suddenly, the near certainty of this crumpet mixture rising beyond its vessel’s capacity. I braved the flies to check on it. Before even reaching it I notice the once flat top had become a bulbous mound. Damn. And then everything is moving in fast forward and I’m covered in a sticky fly-attracting white goo for the next hour. My elbows to my fingertips unusable for anything unrelated to crumpetry. Unsuitable really even for that. The batter covered tea towel gets left in the dirt, the ever erupting jar needs constant attention to keep the flies from claiming our precious crumpets-to-be as their own. Sunita prepares the stove and everything to start cooking this underdone concoction immediately. As It turns out, I wasn’t feeling patient enough to use the egg rings and make proper crumpets in these conditions. They were more like crumpet pancakes. Which, hybrid pastries are like a major trend right now, hey? Cruffins and cronuts and the lot. We didn’t have the means to properly clean the jar or the tea towel so they got disappeared into the roof pod for future us to deal with. Meanwhile the desert floor is dotted with little crumpet puffs that got smattered about (and cooked!) while I was attempting to both pour crumpet batter and swat away the damned flies. I’d like to say we had a nice meal of crumpet pancakes (Sunita didn’t appreciate the title of ‘crumpcakes.’) but realistically, as soon as the less-than-successful crumpets were slathered in butter and honey the flies became absolutely frenzied and we had to fight viciously for each bite. My hands were still covered in dried batter and plenty of red dust. Still, I licked the precious Tasmanian pepper berry honey from my fingers.
So yeah. I guess this is what we get up to. On our road trips. In the desert. Needless to say, I have conceded that crumpets are best left to a kitchen environment…