I lived in London for eight years in my 20s. Working in the crazy world of Marco Pierre White’s kitchens, it was nice to know that there were things about the city you could count on. For instance, the pubs would close early. The sun would be missing in action throughout most of the winter. And Sunday dinner would be a proper meal of gorgeous roast beef with roasted potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.
Like so many things in Britain, Yorkshire pudding dates back centuries. The first recipe is said to have appeared in 1737 in a cookbook called The Whole Duty of a Woman. In those days, it was known as dripping pudding because the uncooked batter would be placed under the roast to collect the falling fat and juices. Today’s puddings aren’t much different from the original; they’re now commonly made into smaller individual puddings, rather than one large one, and they’re taller. In fact, the Royal Society of Chemistry (yes that really exists) said in 2008 that “a Yorkshire pudding isn't a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall.”
Now before you go hunting for a ruler, let’s be perfectly clear about a few things: Yorkshire pudding doesn’t look or taste anything like the thick, custard-like pudding kids across the globe carry in their lunchboxes. It’s actually a cross between a popover and a soufflé. And while it’s sometimes eaten with butter and jam, the Yorkshire puddings I dream of are served with juicy roast beef and horseradish cream.
They’re a breeze to make. All you need are eggs, flour, milk and oil. My Gran was from Yorkshire and I’m certain she used lard, but oil works wonderfully. The trick to getting those four inches is a very hot oven (400 degrees F) and batter that’s super smooth, without any lumps.
Ready to channel your inner Anglophile? Next Sunday, try this Standing Roast Rib of Beef with Dijon, Garlic and Yorkshire Puddings.