Most Dependable Yorkshire Puddings
I'm going to jump in and admit that I find Yorkshire puddings one of the most challenging things to make. Scratch that, they're not so much hard to make, I hard to get them right. As much as people sneer at British food as being uncomplicated and plain, I challenge them to make a Yorkshire pudding and get it right. It's a true art, though science helps.
Regardless of the recipe, Yorkshire puddings will work in the right conditions. Some recipes are indeed less fussy than others, and will work if even if you don't get the measurements quite right. Success in a Yorkshire puddings - I've found - comes down to a few key factors.
- Cold batter - chill your Yorkshire pudding batter in the fridge a bit before you bake it. A couple of hours before is best. Some people will tell you that chilling it isn't necessary and it's a waste of time - these people are generally Southerners who like their Yorkshire puddings like puffy, hollow profiteroles. The South of England is certainly closer to France than Yorkshire, so I don't begrudge them having a taste for choux pastry. A proper Yorkshire pudding should have a light, airy crown, bun a doughy, moist, pretty soggy underbelly. By having a cold batter, once you plunge it into a roaring hot oven, the batter's overall temperature will take longer to rise, meaning the outer parts of the batter will puff quickly, while centre of the batter will take a little slightly longer to cook, hence, a doughy, chewy centre. Perfection.
- The fat. However you cook your Yorkshire puddings, whether in a sponge tin, a pie dish or a muffin tray, you need to preheat the tray with the fat in it. Whatever size tin, you want at least 1cm depth of melted fat in each space. You need a really tough, robust fat that won't burn in the hot oven. The best for the job is lard, or beef dripping. It will work with oil, but it will smoke your kitchen like mad. Whatever you do, don't use butter.
- The last thing: the oven temperature. Preheat your oven as hot as it will go, generally about 250C on most household ovens. Take it all the way. Preheat your fat-filled trays for about 10/15 minutes at this temperature too. Then, using a jug with a good spout, oven the oven and quickly tip your batter into the trays. It should sizzle and fizz straight away, and the fat should gather up and engulf the batter. Close the oven door straight away, and then reduce the temperature to 200-220C. Reducing the temperature is key to that chewy bottom, because it make the outside of the better inflate straight away, and allows the centre to cook much more slowly.
It took me ages to figure this all out. I tried lots of differing recipes from all the household names and ended up with variable results. In the end I made my own patchwork of a recipe which worked for me and my oven. This is the only recipe and technique which I have replicated in other peoples' ovens with success, even if their oven only goes up to 220C instead of 250C, it still works. Give it a go one Sunday afternoon, perhaps when the pressure is off and you're not feeding a dozen, and see what you think. And of course, let me know how they turn out!
- 225g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Fine Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar (Caster or Granulated)
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Mace (optional)
- 4 Free-Range Eggs
- 300ml Whole-Fat Milk
- Lard/Beef Dripping for greasing, approx 150g
- It's best to make the batter a few hours ahead so you can leave it to chill in the fridge. Sieve 225g of plain flour into a mixing bowl. Add in a teaspoon of fine salt, sugar, ground pepper and some ground mace if you want to try it.
- Add in roughly half of the milk and mix the until you get a fairly stiff dough. Give it a good, hard mix for about a minute until it goes a little bit stretchy. Add in the rest of the milk and mix until there are no lumps.
- Crack in the eggs and mix the batter until it becomes smooth and there are no lumps to be seen.
- Place the batter in the fridge for about 1-2 hours to chill.
- Half an hour before you want to serve up, preheat your oven to it's highest temperature, ideally 250C (or 220C if that's the highest it will go). Take your tins, and add a good, generous lump of lard or beef dripping and place into the oven to melt into the tin. Once molten, check to see if the tins have a rough 1cm depth of liquid fat, if not, add a little more solid fat to melt in. Leave to heat for at least 10 minutes so the trays and the fat get super hot.
- Pour the batter into a measuring jug with a spout. Carefully open the oven and without taking the trays all the way out of the oven, pour a good glug of batter into each tin. It should sizzle and hiss, and the fat will slightly engulf the batter. Place back into the oven quickly and reduce the temperature by about 30 degrees C (250C to 220C or 220C to 190C). Bake for 20 minutes until puffed up and golden.
- Once puffed up and well-tanned - remove the Yorkshires from the oven and leave to sit for a little bit in their tins. Don't worry if they comer out a bit too airy, after about 10 minutes they will sink a little bit, giving you the gorgeous, chewy bottom that you desire in a Yorkshire pudding!