As we’d all be tucking into our roast beef on a Sunday afternoon (vegetables dug from the garden earlier that morning), my grandad (a Yorkshireman born and bred) would have just 2 or 3 yorkshire puddings on his plate, maybe a little gravy if he was feeling decadent. For that was the origin of the Yorkshire pudding – you ate them before anything else to fill you up so you would eat less meat – which just shows how times change. And in the days before electricity and central heating, they needed something to keep out the cold.
Top tips for Yorkshire puddings:
1 – Instead of adding all milk, do half milk, half water. The water lightens the mix, and they are more crisp. James Martin has a great recipe here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/miniyorkshirepudding_11253.shtml
2 – Make the mix at least ½ hour in advance – it can be done the day before. This allows time for the flour to absorb the liquid (i.e. thicken up).
3 – DRY HEAT – Like roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings really like dry heat. When you open your oven door with the roast beef cooking you’re likely to get a good head of steam escaping. If you try and put the yorkies in with the roast they always have trouble rising because there is too much moisture. My gran always had the perfect solution, and it’s the one I still use today too – you take your meat out and leave it to rest, then you put in the Yorkshire puds. They like high heat, about 210 oC. If, in the meantime, your roast meat has cooled down, just flash it back in the oven for 4 - 5 minutes at 150 oC.
4 - Two ovens are better than one. Another answer to the above problem is to cook the yorkshire puddings in a seperate ovens. Many domestic ovens have a small oven at the top.
5 – Hot oil. Lard seems to have gone out of fashion these days for health reasons, but it does produce the best Yorkshire puddings. Add your oil/ lard to the Yorkshire tins and heat in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes till very hot, before you add your batter mix. The oil should sizzle and start to cook the puddings as soon as the batter mix is dropped into it. Put the yorkshire pud tin on a baking tray so any oil that spills out is collected on the tray – instead of dripping on the bottom of the oven where it starts burning and fills your kitchen with smoke.
6 – If your oven is very full, it takes too long for the oven to regain temperature, so the Yorkshire puddings cook more slowly, hence they won’t rise as well, so why not do them in advance? They can be cooked the day before and kept in the fridge or weeks before and kept in the freezer. From fridge cold they only take 3 – 4 minutes to re-heat in the oven. From frozen just a little longer – around 5 – 6 minutes. The difference in taste of making your own is worth it!
7 - Yorkshire pudding with pork. Yorkshire puddings go with more than beef. My gran would make sage and onion yorkshire pudding to go with pork - cooked onions, chopped fresh sage and fresh breadcrumbs. into yorkshire pudding batter. It didn't rise as well obviously, and was a cross between stuffing and yorkshire pud, but for them, and us 'southerners' as well it made a welcome addition to roast pork.
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