FoodBabble: Yorkshire Pudding

The History

Yorkshire pudding is made from a few basic ingredients: flour, eggs, and milk.  Traditionally, it was flavored with the drippings from a roast.  When meat was commonly cooked on a spit the pudding was placed underneath and it collected drippings for flavor as they fell.  Now-a-days we mostly associate yorkshire pudding with a beef roast but traditionally it could be done with any meat including but not limitted to, pork, chicken, mutton, etc.

This is what this is supposed to look like

This is what this is supposed to look like

As this is a very Britishy dish, it is not something I’ve come across before I did some research on how it is supposed to turn out.  (Unfortunately, this was after I made mine, next time I’ll do the research first).  Something to know as you review the below, is that in Britain pudding doesn’t mean pudding.  In this case it means bread and sometimes it can mean sausage.  The internet says, the pudding was made different in the north versus the south.  In the north of England the pudding is crispier, sometimes substituting some of the milk for water to aid the effect. In the south the pudding is softer, sometimes achieved by adding more eggs.  A basic ingredient formula is 1/3 cup flour to a 1/3 cup liquid per egg.

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The instructions from the Gourmet cookbook call for adding the milk slowly to insure it can be beaten smooth.  I chose to use the kitchenaide mixer to mix the flour and milk, thinking it would get me the silky smooth finish I normally get with my cake batters.  This wasn’t overly successful as the batter came out with a lot of tiny lumps.  Hindsight, this could be because the batter was so thin.  The wide spinning range on the kitchenaide wasn’t enough to beat everything out.  My baking experience has taught me that those lumps I mentioned equate to tiny flour bombs that will wreck the consistency of many a batter.  To try to defuse the situation I whisked the mixture by hand to try to smooth it out as much as possible.  After a few minutes I had a pretty smooth consistency, but a handheld mixer would likely be more successful.  From there, the eggs have to be added one at a time and beaten in.  Then per the instructions I “chilled” the batter in the fridge until it was time to put in the pan.

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So many tiny flour bombs

I specifically made pork loin tonight so that I would have drippings from the pan to add to my pudding.  The drippings from the pork loin were put in the baking pan to about ½ inch deep.  The instructions said the drippings needed to be heated to 450 degrees before the batter was added to the pan.  I kept my stove down at 400 because higher than that and it sets off my fire alarm.

The Result

The overall product came out very flat, maybe only an inch high at its tallest.  This is several inches shorter than is standard, but why?  Web research shows that the batter should not have been refrigerator cold when it was cooked.  I should have prepared the batter in the morning.  Chilled it for a few hours and then let it warm to room temperature before putting it into the hot pan.  I think this may be an instance where vernacular from 1974 does not translate perfectly to today.  I read “chilled” and assumed refrigerated.  The batter must be chilled for at least two hours before it is ready to be cooked, but this could also be read to mean it is set aside on the counter or is simply rested rather than actually cold.

There is even some debate as to whether or not the batter must be rested at all.  The majority seem to be in favor of resting, saying that it allows the batter to rise more effectively, as long as it is allowed to come back up to room temperature if it is refrigerated.

The flavor overall was reminiscent of a pancake and was a good way to sop up juices from the meat and gravy left on the plate after eating.  The edges of the pudding were browned but not actually crispy.  I think the decision to use a 400 degree oven may have led to my soft edges.  Subsequent research has shown that I really should have used at least 425 degrees to get the crispiness in the edges.

So, all said and done, when I try this recipe again I will be sure the batter is room temperature and that my oven is nice and hot before the batter goes in.  I’ll update you all with new results after round two!

the_doctor_amydoctor

In a happy and semi-related coincidence I was watching an episode of Doctor Who today and in it the Doctor claims to have invented Yorkshire pudding.  When Amelia Pond questions this the doctor says, “Pudding and yet savory, sound familiar?” and holds up a fish finger with custard.

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