Yorkshire puddings were always a firm favourite in my childhood household. If mum didn’t make Yorkshire puds to compliment our ritual Sunday roast, then it really wasn’t a proper roast. There was something so simplistically thrilling about the anticipation of waiting for them to come to the table that really hasn’t changed for me, even now. You see, having only one oven and something as demanding as Yorkshire puds on the menu, we had to wait until everything else was out before they had time to shine. The temperature was cranked up while the chicken was carved and twenty minutes later the crispy risen puffs arrived at the table still in the little patty cake tin, mum forked them onto our already half eaten plates and we lavishly bathed them in leftover gravy. It’s rather funny to think that Yorkshire puddings used to be served as cheap tummy-fillers before the more expensive meat course- and in our house they were the stars of the show whilst the chicken took a comfortable back seat.
When we first moved to the states, my mother practically gave up on baking, complaining about the ghastly American flour that prevented the treats she had been making for years from rising. Scones came out solid and dense, cakes like flat, tough pancakes, bread like bricks and Yorkshire puds like stodgy hockey pucks. Now that I have come back stateside, I have tried to correct these flat failures, starting with scones and cakes but after a disappointing turnout of Yorkshire puds at my mothers birthday roast in December- it became my duty and mission to once and for all set things right. No flour and egg mixture was going to get me this worked up- Yorkshire Puddings would rise again!
I did some cyber research and found other befuddled expats who had suffered similar rising woes each with their own swear words and theories. The following day I set up an experiment and I admit that the excitement of staring through the oven window to keep tabs on their progress was almost too much for me. I tried using bread flour, I let the batter rest for longer, used butter instead of oil to grease the pans, altered the temperatures, added baking powder, allowed my ingredients to come to room temperature and finally, I added the magical extra egg. You see, (and please contain your yawning) in England, the standard recipe for Yorkshire puddings is 1 egg to approx 110g/4oz flour and 300ml/1/2 pint of milk- but for some unbeknown reason to me use this method with American flour and they will come out like the stodgy hockey pucks my mother made. Like helium is to balloons- eggs are to flour and these little babies nearly blew out of their tin. To bore you just a little longer, using oil gives them a better flavour to butter (which can also burn), bread flour makes them stodgy and if the batter sits it becomes too thick and altering the temperatures during cooking is just a superfluous added step. So here’s to rise of Yorkshire puds, may they never be overshadowed by the chicken again.
Yorkshire Puddings- or Popovers
Brits call these Yorkshire puddings and serve them with roast dinners, yanks call them Popovers and serve them with butter and jam. Either way they are the same glorious thing, cheap to make and a real crowd pleaser. And for those non-traditionalists they are also remarkably good stuffed with a fried egg and bacon.
Makes 12 large in a muffin tin or 24 in a patty cake tin
Difficulty: easy, if you follow directions!
280g/ 10oz /2 cups plain flour
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature*
500ml/ 17 ½ fl oz/ 2 cups milk, at room temperature
25g/1oz butter, melted
1/ Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Beat together the eggs, milk and butter in a separate bowl.
2/ Make a well in the flour and whisk in the wet ingredients gradually until fully combined and smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film and allow the batter to rest for an hour at room temperature while you check your email.
3/ Heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas mark 6. Drizzle no more than ½ tsp of oil in each cup of a non-stick muffin tin (or you can grease with butter, or spray with cooking spray). Place in the oven to heat up the pan for about 3 minutes. Now give your batter a quick stir and pour it into each of the muffin cups leaving about ½ cm space at the top.
4/ Place in the oven and do not open for 30 minutes, no matter how tempting it is! Check them now, they should have risen and be golden all over. You can check to see if one is ready by cutting into it- the inside should be mostly hollow ( I like a little stodge in the bottom). Serve immediately.
* In America, eggs are stored in the fridge- to make them come to room temperature quickly, fill a bowl with hand-hot water (NOT FRESHLY BOILED WATER) and let them have a nice warming bath for 5 minutes whilst you measure out your other ingredients,