Monday, 1 March 2010
There is something so wonderful about having everyone home again after having spent two weeks in various different parts of the world. First our son was in Spain while we were in California, then he returned to England a few days before I did, at which point my husband was still several thousand miles away while our son and I were at home. Yesterday however, we were all n in one place once again and my sense of contentment was so great that I was inspired to cook a traditional Sunday dinner - roast beef and all the trimmings - including (and especially!) Yorkshire pudding.
Whether or not Yorkshire pudding was actually invented in Yorkshire is a matter of debate (except amongst those who live in Yorkshire) as the original version was actually called "dripping pudding" and first appeared in a cookbook back in the mid 1700's. Dripping of course referred to the meat drippings the pudding was cooked in - and those first puddings were plate-size, not the small individual Yorkshire puddings more commonly served today.
People seem to fall into two camps; those who feel they can make Yorkshire puddings and those who feel they cannot. Certainly these fluffy accompaniments are temperamental souls, rising and falling seemingly at a whim. I have to confess that if I am cooking for large groups I almost always buy ready-made Yorkshire puddings to avoid the unbearable suspense as to whether they are going to turn out as I want them to or not. The embarrassment of deflated puddings is just too much for me. I'd rather have the shame of hiding the wrappings from the ready made ones!
My Mom made amazing Yorkshire puddings, the kind that stayed puffed up even after they had cooled. In fact, it was a favourite shared treat of my Dad and I to enjoy the cold puddings for dessert the next day with a spoonful of strawberry jam tucked inside them. Sometimes my Yorkshire puddings stay puffed up like that, sometimes they don't. However there are rarely any left over to enjoy the next day - like any treat, they have a habit of disappearing.
Of course people still make plate size Yorkshire puddings and when I enjoyed one filled with sausages, potatoes and onion gravy one evening in the Midlands I understood why. I've never attempted that sort, although the recipe is virtually the same. Mine are always made in large American style muffin tins. I also use olive oil instead of dripping or fat from the roast. It means that my Yorkshires are suitable for everyone, even if they don't eat meat, and I feel it gives them a lighter flavour. (I've never been a fan of using beef drippings for gravy or for cooking. It's a controversial stance in some cases, but one I have always stuck to!)
So this is my recipe for Yorkshire puddings which (almost) always rise to fluffy gorgeousness. There are two key things to note about making Yorkshire puddings. The first is that you want the oven as hot as possible. I always cook them after I have removed the meat from the oven to rest and then I put the heat up to about 225℃ or 450℉. The second thing is, once you put them in the oven, don't open the door no matter what. You can see if they are done when they are risen and brown. Open the door at your peril, for they will almost certainly collapse. I speak from bitter experience here! Also, although they are pretty good at staying risen and puffy, I leave nothing to chance and serve them immediately after I take them out of the oven. (I often plate the food up while they are cooking.) Oh and one more thing - I'm never one to add an extra step to a recipe unless I feel it is utterly necessary, but please do sift the flour. The results are so much better when you do. And don't leave out the secret ingredient - it gives the Yorkshire puddings a lovely texture.
And now I will stop being bossy and share my very simple recipe for The 21st Century Housewife's Yorkshire Puddings!
1 -1/2 cups milk
2 cups plain flour, sifted
scant 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (my now not-so-secret ingredient!)
Put about a half teaspoon of olive oil in each of the muffin cups of a 12 cup muffin tin (the large American style muffin size). Put the pan in a very hot oven.
Beat the eggs and milk together until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter into each muffin cup until about three-quarters full. Put the pan back in the oven, and shut the door carefully. Cook for about 15 minutes until risen and golden. They should look something like this:-