L-R Stephanie Moon, Ben Cox (winner) & Tim Bilton in the 2011 Yorkshire Pudding Challenge
A quart of milk, five eggs and a pinch of salt, beaten into the flour to make a smooth batter. This is Hannah Glasse’s Yorkshire pudding recipe written in 1747.
Remarkable to think that in 265 years of cooking, virtually nothing about the recipe for Yorkshire pudding has changed.
Not that recipe compilers have been deterred from devoting whole collections to the the subject, using up every celebrity variation and inserting such aberrational items as haggis and daffodils.
Hannah Glasse’s recipe in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy , published in 1747 is one of the earliest recipes for we have for Yorkshire pudding. A native of Northumberland, she refers to it with such an easy familiarity, it can only mean Yorkshire pudding was already a standard dish in the kitchens of the north of England. It was probably less well known in the south which is probably why she included it in her book.
In Hannah’s day, the meat would have been roasted on a spit before an open fire, the dripping juices caught in a pan beneath the meat and used to baste the joint. The pudding batter would have been placed in a separate tin beneath the meat and, as it cooked, the mixture would become infused with the rich flavours of the roasting meat as it dripped onto the pudding. It would then have been turned and cooked until the underside was brown and, after being drained of fat, sent hot to the table. Sounds delicious.
Down the years, the spit was replaced by a succession of ranges and ovens, but Yorkshire pudding retained its place on the nation’s dinner table, served not just with roast beef but mutton, rabbit and even game. In many a Yorkshire household where meat was a luxury and nothing could be wasted, Yorkshire pudding was – and still is – served before the meat; the idea being to fill the family up on ‘Yorkshire’ so they would want less of the more costly meat. Leftover batter could be cooked and served as a pudding with raspberry jam, golden syrup or black treacle.
Mutton roasting on one of Ivan Day’s Historic Food Courses
For a taste of Yorkshire pudding with onion gravy, served before the mains, try the King’s Arms at Heath, near Wakefield or Walmgate Ale House in York
If you want to learn about historic recipes and Yorkshire pudding cooked beneath the meat as in Hannah Glasse’s day, then you might enrol on one of Ivan Day’s terrific Historic Food Courses. Although they are on hold at the moment we look forward to them returning soon.
In 2011 the Cooking School at Dean Clough in Halifax held the first pro-am Yorkshire Pudding Challenge . Stephanie Moon from Rudding Park, Ben Cox from the Star at Sancton and Tim Bilton of the Spiced Pear at Hepworth took part in the professional class. Ben was declared the winner. From the amateurs Christopher Blackburn from Copley, near Halifax won for his Yorkshire puds that had bags of taste and texture.
Ben and Mandy were then approached by BBC’s Countryfile to judge a cook-off between Matt Baker and a chap from the Royal College of Chemistry versus Yorkshire farmer’s wife Mary Rook, and presenter Ellie Harrison. The farmer’s wife won of course but you can follow the chemical formula for Yorkshire pudding here along with Ben’s prize winning Yorkshire pudding recipe.