It’s not too difficult to locate a receipt (recipe) for Yorkshire
pudding in historic (1840s or earlier) British cookbooks. There
are even a few in early American works, as well. At the same
time, I was rather surprised that there weren’t more, and that,
in fact, many of the English books that I consulted (those in my
personal library) don’t have any at all. Is not “Yorkshire pud”
the quintessential British dish? Or, perhaps it IS, and thus no
one really needs a receipt, as every cook across the pond
instinctively knows how to whip up a proper pud!
Nevertheless, those numerous receipts that I did find are,
as usual, quite similar and yet, a bit different. The basic
ingredients tend to be the same, that is flour, milk, eggs,
and a bit o’ salt, as is the method of cooking, namely the
placement of the resulting batter in a pan under roasting
meat. The most noticeable difference is the varying amount
of those above ingredients. The eggs, for instance, ranged
from three to eight, and the flour varied from a mere “four
spoonfuls” to the rather ambiguous “[add] flour to [make]
a good batter.” It all certainly made for interesting reading!
Eventually, I began to wonder how the end result of any
of these receipts might stack up against the store-bought
mix that I recently made. Or even how they might compare
to the modern version I use for popovers. And of course,
the only way to determine all this would be to make a few.
And so I did!
After reviewing all the different receipts, I chose the two
that follow (and I may do more later; we’ll see!). The BIG
problem with this experiment, however, is that I can’t follow
the instructions exactly as they were written as I don’t have
a proper cooking hearth, and so I’m not able to roast meat.
dagnabit! Ahhh well, I’m not going to let that stop me! I just
did the best I could, mixed up the batters as directed, and
baked them in my modern oven.
So first up, I tried this receipt from The Art of Cookery Made
Plain and Easy (London, 1747), by Hannah Glasse:
A Yorkshire Pudding.
Take a Quart of Milk, four Eggs, and a little
Salt, make it up into a thick Batter with Flour,
like a Pancake Batter. You must have a good
Piece of Meat at the Fire, take a Stew-pan
and put some Dripping in, set it on the Fire,
when it boils, pour in your Pudding, let it bake
on the Fire till you think it is nigh enough, then
turn a Plate upside-down in the Dripping-pan,
that the Dripping may not be blacked; set your
Stew-pan on it under your Meat, and let the
Dripping drop on the Pudding, and the Heat
of the Fire come to it, to make it of a fine brown.
When your Meat is done and set to Table, drain
all the Fat from your Pudding, and set it on the
Fire again to dry a little; then slide it as dry as
you can into a Dish, melt some Butter, and pour
into a Cup, and set in the Middle of the Pudding.
It is an exceeding good Pudding, the Gravy of
the Meat eats well with it.
As you see, the bulk of this receipt deals with the cooking
portion (placing it under roasting meat), which I’m not able
to do, as I said. Thus, I concerned myself with the first part,
the mixing of the batter. Now, to make it more manageable,
I cut all the amounts of the ingredients in half. Of course,
the most “iffy” part was figuring out the amount of flour.
I worried about either using too much or not enough! After
a certain point, however, I figured I just had to use what
seemed best and be done with it. So I gradually added
roughly half a cup at a time, for a total of two. Baking
temperature and time made for another guessing game.
I relied on past experiences with popovers for the former,
setting it at 425. As for the latter, I basically left it in, well,
until it was done! (which was about 45 minutes or so)
Overall, again, I think it turned out well. The taste was
marvelous, much like the popovers I’ve made. The real
test on that score is that it was highly enjoyable a day
after (and beyond). As the photo shows, it “poufed” up
nicely, thus filling my cast iron skillet. I’d like to try it again,
only as individual puddings (aka popovers). I think that’d
be another, and perhaps better, way to judge these. We’ll
see. If I have time!
On now to receipt Number Two!
NEXT: Part II of the Yorkshire Pudding historic receipt experiment