“ Brand: Greenhalgh / Type: Bread „
Greenhalgh's is a bakery chain in the north west, like Greggs or Sayers. Most of what they sell is pretty similar - sandwiches and cakes and sausage rolls - but one thing they have that I've never seen elsewhere is this crumpet loaf.
To realise just how excited I was to spot this while out in Didsbury, you have to understand a few things about me. Like how much I love bread: a lot. And how I've been tempted to those silly firms making those crustless loaves to ask if I can have all the redundant crusts cos they are so totally the best bit. And how, whenever I come back from an extended stay abroad, my first stop tends to be Tesco, for proper butter, nice sliced bread, and a bumper pack of crumpets. Heck, I even used to buy the things occasionally from the British shop in Heidelberg which would stock their freezers with these expat essentials.
Toastie loaves are good, crumpets are good, but a crumpet loaf?! Surely that must be bordering on great?
The loaf doesn't look that special from the outside. Wrapped in a clear plastic, it looks like a thick, farmhouse loaf. It only has about 8 slices, but since it weighs in at 400g, you can get an idea of how big these slices are. It's a normal loaf with two end crusts (none of that aforementioned crustless nonsense) and it's only the sticker on the bag that tells you it's a crumpet loaf, because honestly it looks just like any other loaf.
However, once you open it up and take out a slice, you can see it's the doughy bit in the middle that gets it the crumpet name. The slices are riddled with the pockmarked holes that you would associate with the top of a crumpet, except both sides of the slice are like this - there's no solid, darker underside like you'd get with a crumpet. The edges are also soft and plump, unlike the slightly crunchy rims you get on some crumpets.
We decided to have the crumpet loaf toasted for breakfast. It's a bit thick for my toaster, so while it might have fitted in, it would probably have set off the newly installed in advance of renting second smoke alarm in the process. Instead, I stuck it under the grill, though doing 4 big, thick slices at once took some doing. The bread toasts like normal bread does, so you just keep an eye on the colour to know when to turn it over - with crumpets I tend to toast the tops longer than the bottoms, especially if they're looking a bit dark already, but with this loaf, the slices didn't have distinct tops and bottoms.
Then came the taste test. These slices are really, really thick, which I think is a contributing factor in what I'm about to say. The toast was good - fluffy and with a slightly unusual tinge of flavour - but it wasn't all that crumpet like. I tend to buy the thinner, shops' own crumpets rather than the thicker Kingsmill or Warburtons ones, and as such my crumpets are thin and dense and really suck up the topping in a delicious moist way. These, on the other hand wicked the butter off the top, but only pulled it down so far inside, as the slices were just so thick. The holes helped with this to an extent, and the butter maybe penetrated more than it would have done on a normal thick toastie loaf, but since I was just using the normal amount I usually would, it didn't seem to go very far.
I also found the texture a little funny as the top and bottom sides toasted quite crisply (as crumpets can) but the inside was just warm, and not firm. This meant with every bite you'd get a texture sandwich, with a weird soft bit in the middle.
The flavour was hard to describe but didn't taste much like my usual toast. That said, I tend to find hotel toast doesn't taste quite the same as mine either (I'm a Warburtons gal, with no variation). The crumpet loaf was even more different, though, with an almost sour taste to it in places.
I only tried it as breakfast toast, but I did wonder how well it might make eggy bread French toast, drenched in syrup - it's one I'll try if I ever get another loaf.
The loaves can be frozen, and used in the normal way (defrost before use, or toast straight from the freezer). This is not a bread I wanted to try untoasted, in the same way I wouldn't eat cold crumpets, and I don't think it would make very nice sandwiches. It's also too thick to use sensibly in a sandwich toaster.
My loaf cost just over a pound, so a little more than a mass produced small-sized loaf from the supermarket. It wasn't so expensive we thought twice, and whatever the price, within reason, wouldn't influence whether or not I bought it regularly as some things, like bread, are just essentials I won't go without.
I wanted to buy the loaf because it was new and unusual. I'm happy I tried it, but I don't think I'll buy it again in a hurry, as nothing beats a simple crumpet or normal loaf, not even a super sounding crumpet loaf.