Yorkshire puddings are the perfect accompaniment to roast meat dishes. So whether you’re serving up a roast chicken, roast beef or even a Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, here’s a history of Yorkshire puds, and tips on how to nail them every time…
Yorkshire puddings – the history
No Sunday roast is complete without a Yorkshire Pudding, and yet we know remarkably little about its history. Most assume it comes from Yorkshire, judging by the name, but there’s no certifiable evidence that that’s the case.
However, it is thought they were traditionally served as a cheap way to bulk up a meal, or to fill you up before the main course, meaning not so much (expensive) meat would be needed.
In its earliest incarnations, it’s been recorded as a “dripping pudding” as it was cooked beneath roasting meat in order to catch the precious drippings (melted fat). In 1737 book The Whole Duty Of A Woman, Sir Alexander William George Cassey gives the recipe for a perfect dripping pudding, instructing you you to make a pancake batter, heat a pan over a fire with a little butter, pour in the batter and cook beneath a shoulder of mutton.
Back in the day, these puds were cooked as Cassey suggests, in one large pan and sliced into portions, but now we’re much more used to individual puddings (often nabbed from the freezer – no judgement), that are a whole lot puffier.
How to make the perfect Yorkshire pud
Most people have a favourite, trusted recipe but there are some universal tips that will help make your puds light, fluffy and crispy.
The first thing to tackle is the oil; you want one with a high smoking point. This is not the time for fancy extra-virgin olive oil – stick to vegetable, sunflower and peanut oils. Pour the oil into your baking tin and give it enough time to properly heat up in the oven – don’t rush the process. And your oven needs to be very, very hot.
Make sure you weigh your quantities. Too much flour and the puds will be dense, but overdo the milk and the batter will be too loose. If you scrimp on eggs, they won’t rise properly, and if you want extra volume, you can add in an extra egg white.
The key is stirring the batter as thoroughly as you can because you don’t want any lumps. Once you’ve left it to rest for a while, give it one last stir to whisk up any flour that might have sunk to the bottom of the bowl.
Putting your batter in a jug will make pouring it out much easier – it’s one more item to wash, but it will definitely be worth it. Have a spoon at the ready to collect the drips in between pouring each pud.
It might be tempting, but resist the urge to open the oven door before your puddings are completely done – unless you want poor collapsed puds.
Then add gravy – who even needs the rest of the roast dinner?
Try this classic Yorkshire pudding recipe
Classic Yorkshire puddings
- Mixing bowl
- non-stick 12-hole muffin tin
- 225 g plain flour
- 300 ml whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and half the milk, then mix until smooth.
- Slowly add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk until it the batter has the consistency of single cream.
- Transfer the batter to a jug for easier pouring later and leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/gas 9.
- When ready to cook, take a non-stick, 12-hole muffin tin and add a teaspoon of oil to each hole. Place the tin at the top of your hot oven and leave for 10 minutes or so until the oil is smoking hot.
- Carefully remove the muffin tin from the oven and pour in the batter between half and three-quarters the way up each hole. You should hear a sizzle as the batter hits the hot oil. Then place the tin back in oven and reduce temperature immediately to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
- Bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden. Serve immediately.
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