Sunday, 27 January 2013

Yorkshire Puddings

For someone who spends so much time enjoying writing and testing recipes, I sometimes - like today - advocate the art of cooking by sight and feel, instead of by rigidly sticking to weights, measures and timings.

Yorkshire pudding is the perfect example of a dish which benefits from an experienced, rather than a scientific, approach. Mrs Ribeye Sr (mum) used to have terrible trouble coming up with a consistently excellent batch of puds, until she stopped reading conflicting advice and used good old fashioned common sense instead to bang out tray after tray of perfect, golden, crispy, evenly-risen Yorkies.

The correct basic chemistry is to use the same volume of eggs to flour to make a smooth paste, and then let it down with enough milk to create a batter the thickness of double cream or emulsion paint. Then season (fairly heavily) to taste and voila! The perfect Yorkshire pudding recipe. When I mean 'volume', I'm not referring to weight. I mean that I try to make a heaped dessert spoonful of flour look like the same size as the eggs I've bought. No way should there be a set of scales near me today.

The key to guaranteeing even more structure in your puds, is to use strong bread flour. I have no idea what the difference between strong and plain flour is, but I bet it has something to do with increased amounts of gluten. I probably only make this connection because 'gluten' sounds a bit like 'glue'. I happened to have some over from my recent bread-making fad (pretty much over that now) and I'll be buying more of it when I run out - just to make my puds.

Milk-wise, I use semi-skimmed for everything in my house, and so I use it in my Yorkshire puddings; but if I was buying some especially for this recipe, I may opt for red top (full fat) to give them a bit more richness. This is not scientifically proven, but full fat milk has GOT to taste better in recipes than semi-skimmed, right?

My poor old mum. Conflicting recipes would have her adding water to the mix, or baking powder, or bicarb, or cream, or telling her to 'allow the batter to rest to allow the gluten to develop'. What crap. My recipe is the simplest, the easiest, the deliciousest and more importantly the right-est.

Yorkshire puddings were invented to fill you up when the Sunday roast joint was a bit on the small side, and so it's a thrifty but delicious necessity (which means that this dish is an oft-eaten trusty Potless stalwart). £1 per dozen is all it will set you back. Get some instant gravy to serve with them as a starter, and you'll  be transported back to the late 1940's before you know it. Now all you'll need is Vera Lynn, Brylcream, and some ration books...

Serves 4-6 (makes 12 puddings)


4 eggs
4 heaped tablespoons of plain or strong bread flour (same volume as the eggs - probably 120g-150g)
Enough milk to let the batter down to the thickness of double cream (about 120-150 ml)
Large pinches of salt and black pepper
Sunflower or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to maximum setting (230-240c) and fill the 12 holes in a muffin tin a fifth/quarter full of oil each. Place the tin in the oven to heat to a blistering temperature. In the meantime, in a jug, beat the eggs with the flour until you have a thick paste. Pour in the milk bit by bit until you have a nice batter. Season and then quickly open the oven door to pour the batter into the holes in the muffin tin. The batter should fizz and pop in the oil. Close the door of the oven and cook (without opening it until the puds are cooked) until the puds are risen and golden - about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. Darling and most lovely Mr Rib-eye - As wonderful as your recipes are, I need you to know the following:
    In the supermarkets red-top milk is skimmed - no fat to speak of...and blue top is full fat...Then of course there's Channel Islands milk - from the very pretty Jersey cows ( very fat) with a gold top.
    Love Lel xx


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