As long as I can remember my mum’s Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Puddings was an intrinsic part of our family and growing up, so much so they’ve now become a stable addition to my family as well, something they all love and people within my immediate family like me cooking as well, almost to the state where I’m now taking orders.
The Great British Yorkshire Pudding.
…That’s not to say this was an overnight success, no sir indeedy, as I’d always followed my mums recipe which was only to add one or two eggs, least to say they came out like a small breasted woman…flat as pancakes ;) …So I started a quest to get people’s top tips for the perfect pud from my siblings. Liz (my little sister) recommended putting the batter in the fridge for 1 hour prior to cooking, then my brothers ‘the twins’ had tips as well, Dean said equal Milk, Flour & Eggs (Top Tip) whilst the other one said give it a good whisk just before you pour the mixture into, the trays, but that one was the worst tip which I don’t use. Even my mum entered a tip, although not hers, but from my late granddad Bert, who always used to add two tablespoons of very cold water to the batter mixture just before it went in the oven.
I’ll come onto ‘my’ final Milner family combined recipe later, but first I thought I would do a bit of research into the history of The Yorkshire Puddings, the usual where, when, who; but sadly I was stumped, because as yet, the true origins are unknown, the first true evidence of them was from a Roman Yorkshire pudding dish that was found on an archaeological dig below the streets of York. Later in 1737 a book called ‘The Whole Duty of a Woman’ described the making of a ‘dripping pudding’ resembling the exact way a Yorkshire is made. One really interesting quote/poem I found is by John Bramley, a weaver from where I grew up in Bramley, Leeds.
Ther’t meyt hung dahn afore t’fire to rooast,
There’s ‘t puddin’ on t’brandree afore it ta tooast,
Potatoes top o’t’hob, they’ll de don enif sooin,
But Ah think tha can weive a few more bobbins bi nooin.
From Peter Brears’ Traditional Food in Yorkshire
But for me, one of the most sublime poem’s that is in praise of ‘The Great British Yorkshire Pudding’ is by Ian McMillan… Why you may ask? …simple, it has the word MOON in its opening line.
“Light brown Moon in a gravy sky
Round O of delight on a big white plate
Floppy as a vest if you get ‘em out early;
Hard as a wall if you get ‘em out late!
Alchemy of eggs and milk and flour
Aesthetically gorgeous in a kitchen full of steam
Cultural symbol with enduring power;
Perfect as a sunset, elusive as a dream.
All in the wrist to get the air in the batter
As the shattered eggshells lie crushed like martyrs
As they wait to grace your Yorkshire platter:
The Yorkshire Pudding is the Queen of Starters!
My blood is racing and my heart is thudding
At the thought of this dinnertime’s Yorkshire Pudding!”
One of the funniest things I found out was that of a secret ingredient that a Chinese contestant by name of Mr Tin Sung Chan said he used to the win the Annual Yorkshire Pudding contest in Skipton, he said he used a Chinese herb called Tai Luk, It’s turns out he just used the traditional method as this secret ingredient was a private joke and in fact a figment of his imagination.
Even the myths and old wife’s tales amuse me about making Yorkshire Puddings, like “If your Yorkshire’s fail to rise there’s trouble in’t bedroom” and “Yorkshire puddings taste best when mixed by a Yorkshire hand.” …got to say I agree with the last one, but not too sure about the first, although mine have always risen ;)
Even The Royal Society of Chemistry got in on the act with their formula for the perfect Yorkshire Pudding, which is Carbohydrate + H2O + Protein +NaCI + Lipids…way to scientific for my liking.
As for my ingredients for the Milner Yorkshire Pudding, which aren’t very secret as most people use this same method. I always begin with full cup of good quality Plain Flour, you can use different cup sizes dependant on how many puds you want, I always find a large coffee mug works best for my needs. First I sieve the flour into a large bowl, then using the same cup I fill it the same level as the flour with top quality free-range eggs, (I find the ones from a butcher in Wetherby, who stocks his own farm produce works great for me) add the eggs to the flour, now fill the cup up again to the same level with some full-fat milk…Now whisk until everything is lovely and smooth…some say add some salt at this point, but my test have shown without added salt puds rise higher. Time now to put the mixture in the fridge for a few hours with some cling film over it, or if it’s winter, outside in cold… I’ve even put it in the snow to cool down, and I’ve got to say those Yorkshire’s came out ‘HUGE’…Next up the tins, something I’ve searched high and low to get the right ones, but the ones I use are individual 1″ deep x 4″ wide tins, which I’m sure are for mini flans, but I’ve found these are the are perfect for ‘plate filler’ puds. Lining the tins is not for slimmer’s or the healthy conscious as I use good old Yorkshire Beef Lard (told you) I give all the sides and bottom a good rub and leave a small 1/4 Oxo cube sized chunk in the middle. Now whack that oven up to its max, its 250Fh on mine, which I leave to pre-heat for 15mins before adding the empty tins, ones the tins are in, I leave them for about 20mins, or until they are really ‘smoking’… Once they’ve reached this stage, get the pudding batter from the fridge or snow drift, I always skim off any skin from the top, then add two Ice-Cold tablespoons of cold water, gentle stir it in and open the oven add the mixture to about a 1/3rd of the tin, this stops it falling in on itself, also do this bit as quick a possible as not to lose any heat. Now close the oven and wait, DO NOT open the oven once until they are ready, my timescale is 23.5mins for them. Now one final tip is the kitchens atmospheric condition, don’t have any windows or doors open, having a nice even temperature ‘draft free’ kitchen is my lucky charm.
If the pudding gods are with you, after 23.5mins they should look like these beauties below.
Because I usually have a few orders, I’ll repeat this process a few times. Now all you need is a good Sunday Roast, or just some rich home-made glossy onion gravy to go with them. I tend to make so many that I let them cool down and get them bagged, labelled and slung in the freezer for a later feast, as they only take about 5mins to re-heat.
Just as a side note, I wrote most of this blog flying at 35,000 feet whilst going on holiday to Spain, which was hot enough to cook Yorkshire’s on our hire-car roof when we arrived:)
Good Luck on National Yorkshire Pudding Day which falls on the first Sunday of February ( 2nd of February in 2014 & 1st of February 2015 ) if you try my tried and tested recipe for cooking The Great British Yorkshire Pudding.
PS: My dad always followed mums ‘2 eggs’ formula, so I told him to try the ‘equal’ ingredients formula… He’s never looked back since he got his Giant ‘Milner’ Puds.PPS: I’d like thank Elaine Leem who’s book The Great Book of Yorkshire Pudding helped me so much in my research