'My nanna always made Yorkshire pudding. I think it was to fill us up before we had the meat and vegetables. Back in those days, Yorkshire pudding was stodgy and made with beef or pork dripping. It's nice with roast beef, potatoes baked in their jackets, and carrots, peas and gravy.'
The first time I made Yorkshire Pudding (a few years ago), it was a complete flop. I simply didn't have the pan hot enough and the batter didn't rise at all. Being a gentleman, my County Durham-born Peter ate it without complaint, but I could sense he was disappointed. The second time I made it was even worse. The batter was rubbery and the pudding was flavourless. Thus I decided to pretend that 'Yorkies' didn't exist, and I put the concept of making them into a box in the back of my mind and closed the lid on it — until recently.
Peter has been busy researching his family tree, and when we paid a visit to his elderly 'mam' a few weeks ago she gave him piles of old family photographs to help with his quest. When I saw the image below of my beloved Peter, taken of him as a small boy on a visit to Whitby in North Yorkshire, I knew I wanted to try and make Yorkshire pudding again.
My beloved, Peter, as a small boy on a visit to Whitby circa 1961...
There are numerous recipes in my many cookbooks (and on the inter-web) for Yorkshire pudding. During his rise to fame, Jamie Oliver seems to have revived huge interest in the dish. Peter's mother, who has been making Yorkshire pudding since the late 1940s, recommends you 'get the tin very hot, till it's almost smoking, and then drop the mixture in'.
My early edition of Theodora Fizgibbon's A Taste of London lists a receipt provided by Mr R. Smythe from one of London's oldest traditional restaurants, Simpson's-on-the-Strand which in 1848 was said to have 'introduced excellently cooked meals' and boasted a menu that included 'famous dishes such as steak and kidney pudding, roast mutton and syrup roly poly'! That recipe calls for two eggs, 4oz/114g of flour, half a pint (one cup) of milk, one teaspoon of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. The eggs are separated and the whites whisked until stiff, then added to the batter after it has rested and just before the pan goes into the oven. Mr Smythe suggests that one should 'make the batter for the Yorkshire pudding when you first put the [beef sirloin roast] into the oven and let it stand to get the air into it'. I tried this recipe and, although it tasted good and the texture was fine, the pudding didn't rise.
Not wishing to be beaten by a simple thing such as Yorkshire pudding, I decided to adopt the above recipe by incorporating a little less flour and milk, and adding one extra egg. Effectively, I used my recipe for blueberry Dutch baby pancakes — minus blueberries, vanilla and sugar. And bingo, we have a cracker of a recipe for Yorkshire pudding.
'Did it rise,' Peter called out from working on 'family tree business' in his study. 'He he he, it sure did,' I chuckled, 'But you'd best come out now, because it's deflating rather quickly,' I said, adding 'let's have it with strawberry jam for morning tea.'
Was it good, dear readers? You bet it was. Did Peter complain? Not at all, except to tell me, 'We never eat Yorkshire pudding with jam'. 'Well we do now,' I replied with a smile.
YORKSHIRE PUDDING a la LIZZY
3 free range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup plain (AP) flour
1/2 teaspoon each sea salt and white pepper
spray olive oil, to thogrease the pan
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (fan forced) or 220 degrees C (for an older, slower oven). Whisk the eggs in a Pyrex bowl, then mix in the milk and flour; and the salt and pepper. Whisk thoroughly until smooth. Set the batter aside for 20 minutes or so, to allow it to rest.
Meanwhile, in the oven, heat a greased, 3-cup capacity baking pan (such as the oval enamel pie dish, or 'granny pie dish' as I like to call them, I've used here). Then pop on your oven mitts and, taking care not to burn yourself, remove the dish from the oven and pour in the batter. Now, pop the pan right back into the hot oven and bake the pudding for 15-20 minutes until the edges curl, it puffs up and is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with your Sunday roast and plenty of gravy. Or if it's not Sunday, and you feel inclined to do so, cut up and serve the pudding for morning tea with home-made jam. Serves 4-6.
Yorkshire pud a la Lizzy...
Ye olde receipt sayeth separate eggs & beat whites...
Delicious with home-made strawberry jam!
'I think it was to fill us up before we had meat and vegetables...' says Peter's mam.
'Cooking is the best therapy!'
Tell me, does your nanna or mam make Yorkshire Pudding or, perhaps you call them Popovers? Please share your story.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.