♔Yorkshire pudding is one of the simple glories of a Sunday lunch. Traditionally served with roast beef, the exact origins of the Yorkshire Pudding are unknown, but the general consensus is that it’s a dish associated with the North of England.
When wheat flour began to be commonly used for making cakes and puddings, cooks in the north of England devised a means of making use of the fat that dropped into the dripping pan to cook a ‘batter pudding’ while the meat roasted. In fact the first ever recorded recipe appeared in the book,“The Whole Duty of a Woman” in 1737, it was listed as ‘A Dripping Pudding‘ – the dripping coming from spit-roast meat:
Make a good batter as for pancakes; put in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little then put the pan and butter under a shoulder of mutton, instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savoury, and fit to take up when your mutton is enough; then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.
“The Whole Duty of a Woman” 1737
It was food writer Hannah Glasse who renamed the original version with the prefix “Yorkshire,” which was first used within her publication “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple.” in 1747.
Glasse was one of the most famous food writers of the time, and the popularity of her book spread the word of the Yorkshire Pudding;
‘It is an exceeding good Pudding, the Gravy of the Meat eats well with it’, states Hannah who seasoned the batter with grated nutmeg and ginger and cooked it under a joint of “beef, mutton or a loin of veal” as it spit-roasted before the fire:
Take a quart of milk, four eggs, and a little salt, make it up into a thick batter with flour, like a pancake batter. You must have a good piece of meat by the fire, take a stew-pan and put some dripping in, set it on the fire. When it boils, pour in your pudding, let it bake on the fire till you think it is high enough. Then turn a plate upside-down in the dripping-pan, that the dripping may not be blacked; set your stew-pan on it under your meat, and let the dripping drop on the pudding and the heat of the fire come to it, to make it of a fine brown. When your meat is done and set to table, drain all the fat from your pudding, and set it on the fire again to dry a little; then slide it as dry as you can into a dish, melt some butter, and pour into a cup, and set in the middle of the pudding.
“The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple.” 1747
A true Yorkshire pudding is traditionally cooked in a large, shallow tin and then cut into squares to be served as a first course with thick gravy. Originally, this was done to dull the appetite of the diners so that they wouldn’t eat so much of the more expensive meat in the next course, allowing the meat to stretch further.
In poorer households, the pudding was often served as the only course, using dripping and blood, the simple meal was made with flour, eggs and milk. This was traditionally eaten with a gravy or sauce, to moisten the pudding.
The Yorkshire pudding is meant to rise. The Royal Society of Chemistry suggested during 2008 that: ‘A Yorkshire pudding isn’t a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall.’ According to Peter Brears, author of ‘Traditional Food in Yorkshire’, the perfect pudding, should have a high crisp rim and a “deeply rippled centre.”
The classic round puddings of today were originally called “Yorkshire puffs.” They were originally invented to create more oven space. Cooks would drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot fat around the roasting meat, to creat ‘A puff’
There are just a few rules for a successful pudding you must (i) have the oven very hot, (ii) use a flameproof metal container, and (iii) always use plain flour rather than self-raising.
The recipe below is adapted from Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course (Serves 4)
75g plain flour
Break the egg into it and beat with an electric hand whisk (you can also use a balloon whisk), gradually incorporating the flour, and then gradually add and beat in the milk and water.
When it’s all in, slide a rubber spatula all around the sides and base of the bowl to get any escaped bits of flour. Then give it one more whisk.
There is no need to leave the batter to stand, so make it whenever it’s convenient.
If you are cooking your Yorkshire to accompany a roast, about 15 minutes before the joint is due to come out of the oven, increase the heat to 220°C, gas mark 7 add the dripping (or oil) to the pan and place it in the oven to heat, for 10 minutes.
While your meat is resting, or when you are ready to cook the Yorkshire, place the pan or tin over direct heat, turned to high, while you pour the batter into the sizzling hot fat.
Immediately return the tin to the highest shelf in the oven (or, if you have roast potatoes on that one, the second highest).
The pudding will take 25-30 minutes to rise and become crisp and golden.
Serve as soon as possible: if it has to wait around too long it loses its crunchiness but if it does pop it under a hot grill or back in the oven to crisp up.
Yorkshire puddings can be served as canapés, starters, or as a sweet course with golden syrup, cream or maybe with a little jam or sprinkled with dried fruit or berries the options are endless.
Watch this Jamie Oliver video below for a Quick and Simple Yorkshire Pudding recipe.