My Christmas was basically flawless. There was no stress, at least two kinds of roast meat (if we’re not counting new found fandom for pigs in blankets), plenty of booze and people I love beyond all measure. Oh and I learned how to make perfect Yorkshire puddings. If my smugness makes you close the page, curse me and move on, I totally understand. But I suggest you stay for the recipe first.
I never ate a Yorkshire pudding until I moved to England. I was incredibly homesick and living in Brighton where I didn’t know a single soul and my workmates and I went to the pub one afternoon. Instinctively I knew I needed carbs to soothe me and ordered a giant Yorkshire pudding with roast beef and gravy. And it was love at first bite.
Yorkshires immediately moved into my small but intensely fought category of ‘no such thing as a bad one’ foods. Like chips for example, there are excellent versions of them of course but the sheer existence of them for my immediate eating makes them marvellous. These are foodstuffs I can’t be bothered to debate the minutiae and merits of but simply stuff myself with instead.
And yet, I’ve never actually made my own Yorkshire puddings. I’ve made a lot of toad in the hole and eaten them made by others and in pubs and restaurants and even out of bags from the freezer but I’ve always believed the hype that they are difficult.
Turns out they really aren’t. They require a little thought and detail but isn’t that life in general? What is true is that making them myself means I will be roughly 45% Yorkshire pudding by the end of this year as I’m not going to be able to stop making or eating them now. I love when New Year’s resolutions find you somehow.
The Perfect Yorkshire Puddings (makes 12)
- 140g plain flour
- 2 large eggs
- 200ml milk
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons duck fat (or a neutral tasting non animal based fat or oil if veggie)
The secret imparted to me over Christmas was that to get epic Yorkies you need to contrast your temperatures. The fat in your tray should be spitting hot and your batter should be well chilled which creates a contrast that stops the puddings wilting when you open the oven. With this in mind, it’s best to make the batter at least 3 hours in advance or the night before.
Beat the flour, eggs, salt, pepper and mustard powder together to make a thick smooth paste. Beat your lumps out here with a fork and then add the milk half at a time to get a smooth batter about the consistency of double cream.
Pour the batter from your bowl into a Pyrex jug and chill in the fridge for at least three hours. You’ll have about a pint of batter and the jug makes pouring it into a muffin tray much easier if you’re doing portion sized puddings.
When you are ready to make the Yorkshire puddings, get your oven is at 220C and while it’s fully heating up, portion your duck fat out into each muffin indent which is about half a teaspoon in each. Then put the tray (preferably metal) into the oven for 10 whole minutes to get the fat blisteringly hot.
Lift the jug of batter out of the fridge and then take the tray of hot fat out of the oven. Pour enough batter into each well to half fill it but no more, taking care as the fat should hiss and spit on the first few when the cold batter hits it.
Put the tray straight into the hot oven again and leave for exactly 15 minutes. Do not on pain of death open your oven door before then or they all wilt like delicate wee flowers on you. After 15 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the Yorkshire puddings in there for 2-3 minutes while you plate everything else up.
Then take the tray out and serve the puddings. The bases will be crisp and not sticking to the tray with an impressive height and a deep hollow that cries out to be filled right up with gravy. They will be bronzed and golden and make people gasp in delight and best of all, if any are left over, they can be frozen and simply given 4 minutes in a hot oven to give that Bessie one a run for her money on a weeknight.