What exactly is Yorkshire pudding?
If you visit an English country pub for Sunday lunch and order the beef, you’ll usually find that it comes with something called Yorkshire pudding. The wait staff may even ask you if you want one. Despite the name, they’re not offering an early look at the dessert menu. Yorkshire pudding is a delicacy from the northern county of Yorkshire, and in England, no roast beef dinner is considered complete without one.
Yorkshires, as they are sometimes known, are made from a light, fluffy batter of eggs, flour, and milk or water, and are designed to soak up lots of gravy without losing their deliciously crispy outsides. They are usually shaped like shallow, fist-sized cups, or large, shallow dishes for holding your food inside, and they can also be made with sausages cooked into the batter, a dish known as ‘toad in the hole’.
The earliest versions of The Yorkshire pudding date back to at least the 18th century, when they were known as ‘dripping puddings’. Beef was traditionally cooked on a spit roast over an open fire, and Yorkshires were placed underneath to catch the meat drippings as they fell from the slowly rotating meat. They were originally eaten as a cheap but filling meal by poorer families, but over the years, they became incorporated into a full Sunday roast.
What is Yorkshire pudding called in America?
The American version of the Yorkshire pudding is the popover. Particularly popular in New England, the popover is made with the same egg, flour and milk batter as the Yorkshire pudding, but while popovers are cooked in a pan greased with butter, Yorkshire puddings should, strictly speaking, use beef dripping, a callback to the days when they were cooked under the spit. These days many recipes use cooking oil, however.
The main difference between popovers and Yorkshires is the way in which they are served. Popovers would usually be eaten with a little butter or jam, while their English cousins are eaten as an accompaniment for meat. In reality, though, the difference is very slight, so if you can make a popover, you can make a Yorkshire pudding.
Yorkshire pudding recipe
3 ½ oz
Preheat your oven to 425°F (about 218°C) and put a cupcake tray or Yorkshire pudding tin straight inside, so it can get nice and hot while you prepare the batter.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl, and make a small well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and add a little of the milk, then whisk together until you have a smooth, thick paste, with no lumps. Stir in the rest of the milk a little at a time, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, then pour the mixture into a jug.
Remove the cupcake tray from the oven and pour a splash of oil into each cup. Replace the tray and heat for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
When the oil is just starting to smoke, pour equal amounts of the batter into each cup and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not be tempted to open the oven door to check their progress, as this will make the Yorkshire puddings collapse.
Remove the Yorkshires from the oven when they are golden brown and well risen, and serve hot.
Tips to make sure your Yorkshire puddings are perfect
Say goodbye to dense, soggy Yorkshires forever with these essential tips for crisp, fluffy Yorkshire puddings every time.
Measure your ingredients
Getting the right mix of ingredients is important, so don’t be tempted to guess the amounts. Too much flour leads to a dense, heavy Yorkshire pudding, while too much egg or milk will make the batter loose and sloppy.
Use a hot oven
The secret to crispy, well-risen Yorkshires is a piping hot oven. You should preheat the oven with the cupcake tray inside to make sure both are sufficiently hot before you add the fat, then wait for a few more minutes for the fat to heat up too.
Mix everything well
No one wants lumpy Yorkshire pudding, so make sure you mix the batter until it’s smooth and silky. You can use an electric mixer to help you if your arms are getting tired.
Use the right kind of fat
As we have seen, Yorkshire pudding is traditionally made using beef dripping, although many recipes now use sunflower or vegetable oils. Whichever you decide to use, you should make sure you choose a fat with a high smoke point, so it doesn’t burn in the extra-hot oven. This means no olive oil or butter.
Don’t use too much batter.
Remember that your Yorkshire puddings will rise in the oven, so you don’t need to fill each cup to the brim. In fact, about two-thirds of the way up is plenty. Adding too much batter will make your Yorkshires heavy, and they may collapse under the excess weight.
What is Yorkshire pudding traditionally served with?
The first Yorkshire puddings were eaten by themselves, as a poor man’s meal, and the traditional way to eat them is simply served, with beef or onion gravy, before you begin your roast dinner. Many people still eat their Yorkshires the old fashioned way, but these days they are more likely to be served alongside the meal, with roast beef, roast potatoes, vegetables and, of course, gravy. They are also popularly made into toad in the hole - a larger Yorkshire pudding with sausages baked into the batter.
If you want your Yorkshire pudding super-sized, you can also try giant Yorkshire puddings, which are large enough to fit your entire dinner inside. These too are usually eaten with a roast dinner, but sausages with mashed potato and gravy are another common filling, and they may also be filled with a hearty beef stew.
If you want to know who makes them best, most English people will swear by Mum or Granny’s recipe, but when it comes to the battle of the celebrity chefs, the best-loved versions of this iconic Yorkshire recipe actually belong to Scotsman Gordon Ramsay and Essex boy Jamie Oliver. Take a look at our article, Ramsay vs Oliver: who has the best Yorkshire pudding recipe?, and decide who has your vote.