A Delicious Addition to any Meal.
Having always been aware of Yorkshire Pudding, and eating it since I was little, it surprised me to realise that not everyone knows what it is. It is something that is so simple to make and is also filling and tasty. Our children have eaten it since they were tiny. A piece would be given to them to hold and eat, while being fed their dinner. It would often work as a distraction. You just have to watch they do not take too large a bite in their eagerness, or like any food, it could cause them to choke.
Its “Raison D’etre”
Traditionally you would serve the Yorkshire Pudding with gravy as a starter. The Yorkshire expression “Them as eats t’maist puddin gets t’maist meat” was to encourage people to eat the pudding in the hope they would be too full to eat the meat. This means you can cut down on the amount of meat served by including a side dish of Yorkshire Pudding with your dinner. You can serve it with any meat, it goes well with anything. We also use it for Toad in the Hole (with sausages) or with mince (either cooked in gravy or in vegetable soup). You can also top it with baked beans for a more nutritious alternative to toast. It goes really well with any stew as a sop for the gravy/sauce. It is lighter than dumplings and has more protein because of the eggs and milk. You can also have it for dessert with something sweet piled on top.
What is it Made From and How.
It is basically a mix of plain flour, eggs and milk, beaten together then cooked in fat in a high heat. You can make each pudding in bun tins (Buns are Yorkshire's name for cup cakes), or small pudding basins. You can make larger ones, the size of saucers, special tins are available in Britain for these, or just bake it in a large slab. The most difficult one to cook through properly is the large one. This is the version my grandparents always served up, in large slices with gravy. It is different in texture to the individual puddings. The little ones are light and crispy all the way round, where as the large one is crispy round the edges with a more solid, cake like, centre. I like both versions.
The ingredients of a great Yorkshire Pudding are a subject of intense debate. Each chef, cook, mother, grandmother, café, restaurant and bakery will have their own idea of what is the right mix to use. These range from the use of just a few eggs, for a cheap and light version, to a much richer, heavier and more expensive mix. I have found that using too few eggs can cause a problem with the batter rising, and you end up with leather looking pancakes, still edible, but not the best. Too many eggs can make the dough too rich, and cake like, but they rarely fail to rise.
My favourite combination of ingredients is
1 cup of plain flour – about 6 oz
¾ cup of eggs – about 5-6
1 and 1/4 cups of milk
Large pinch of salt.
As you can see this recipe is volume based so is easily adapted. The quantities listed above make about a dozen small puddings or one large one.
The fat that you use for baking is important. Traditionally it was the beef dripping from the joint, but you can use a healthier sunflower oil or any other kind of fat or oil. It can change the flavour of the finished product so it is best to use the fat retained from cooking a previous joint. Duck is good for this. If you intend to have it as a dessert with jam, fruit and cream or something similar, then I would use oil. The same if you are a vegetarian. This is not a dish for Vegans.
Uneven mixing will cause problems so mix the batter well, make it smooth and free from lumps. Well aerated with a whisk is a good idea, especially just before using. My Grandmother would make the batter first thing in the morning for use in the afternoon for the Sunday dinner. This was to let it rest and give it the strength to rise, she told me, then a last beating to give it some energy before using. I must admit I am never that organised and I am lucky if it gets five minutes rest before I use it.
The heat is important. You must have your oven really high, 250 C, to start with and pre-heat your tins with the fat inside. Place a small knob of fat, or a teaspoon of oil, in each small tin. Scale up for a large single pudding. Place the tins, with the oil inside, in the oven for at least five minutes to heat through. They will be smoking hot when you pour in the batter. If making Toad in the Hole, put your sausages in to heat through, and brown, while the fat heats up. Depending on how fatty the sausage is you may need to cut back on the added fat. If the fat is not piping hot the batter will stick to the tin and will also absorb all the fat, making the finished dish heavy and greasy. Most of the oil (in the small ones) will still be in the baking tin, when you lift out the puddings. I find the safest way to add the batter is to give it a last beat and then put it in a jug. It is so much easier to pour the batter from the jug into the tins than from a bowl or ladle. The cooking continues at a high temperature for small puddings, but turn them down if they begin to burn on the top. Depending on their size they may take anything from 20 to 30 minutes. If making a larger pudding the oven needs turned down to about 200 C and cooking will take 40-50 minutes. Try not to open the door during cooking or the puddings may deflate.
You can cook small puddings in advance and simply reheat them in the oven for a minute or two before serving. When they are ready pile them on a serving dish and put them on the table, with a jug of steaming gravy.
Use left over batter to make a gravy for your roast. Take the scrapings from the bottom of the roasting pan and mix with stock from any of the cooked vegetables. Whisk in the batter to thicken this mix into a gravy. Then simmer for a few minutes to cook out the flour. You can also stir it into a stew to thicken it, but be careful it doesn’t go lumpy. Left over batter can also be turned into pancakes/crepes. You can add in a little extra milk to thin it down, or a little oil or melted butter to enrich it. Delicious either sweet or savoury. Try them rolled up with mince inside and topped with a cheese sauce – delicious.
A Classic Yorkshire Pudding Tin
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(price as of Apr 8, 2016)
Individual Yorkshire Pudding Tins.
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Apr 8, 2016)