Yorkshire Pudding

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.



Edible Equine

If you missed last week’s Ebor meeting at York Racecourse, you probably missed this rather amazing ‘edible equine’.

Set designer, Caitlin Jones, sculptor, Emma Stothard, and local food campaigner, Jennifer Middleton created this life sized racehorse made entirely from locally sourced food

Standing nearly six feet high  (16 hands), they used Yorkshire Puddings, baked in the racecourse kitchens, Wakefield  rhubarb, South Yorkshire Savoy cabbage, Vale of York carrots, radishes from Doncaster, Stourton Grange strawberries,  mushrooms from Thirsk and two big sacks of Wistow wheat and barley.

I think that counts as five a day, at least.


Search for the best Yorkshire Pudding

Do you make a great Yorkshire pudding? Do you deserve to be the next Yorkshire Pudding champion?

On Saturday 8th September, The Cooking School at Dean Clough Halifax is holding its annual Great Yorkshire Pudding Challenge and they want you to enter.

Mandy and I were judges last year (and again this year) and we can confirm it’s all great fun. Entrants arrived with their favourite recipe, secret ingredient, best pan and so on and there was a plenty of teasing and light hearted banter.

The Mayor of Halifax in his chains and his pinny kicked off proceedings and then got stuck in making his own Yorkshire pudding.

Surprisingly considering the common ingredients – flour, eggs, milk, salt – the puds all tasted quite different and if you want a judge’s tip, many of them were under-seasoned. Chris Blackburn’s from Copley Halifax was spot on and he was crowned 2011 amateur Yorkshire Pudding champion with Ben Cox from the Star at Sancton taking the prize for the professionals.

This year, the chefs are Ashley McCarthy (Ye Old Sun Inn, Colton); Darren Parkinson (Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax) and last year’s returning champion, Ben Cox (Star at Sancton). They are still on the lookout for a chef to represent South Yorkshire. If you are one, get in touch and if you are an enthusiastic amateur and  fancy having a go, sign up here www.thecookingschool.co.uk

Yorkshire Puddings on Countryfile

My life has been more surreal than usual of late, what with dinner with David Hockney (of which more later) and judging a Yorkshire Pudding comp. with that nice Matt Baker off the telly. The Countryfile team were filming in the Wolds at Skidby Mill, the last working windmill in Yorkshire, and they cooked up the idea of getting two of their presenters going head to head in the pudding stakes with the fine wholemeal flour produced on the day.


Matt Baker and Jonathan Edwards with the scientific formula for Yorkshire puddiing


Matt’s co-presenter Ellie Harrison was teamed with local farmer’s wife the wonderful Mary Rook, whilst Matt went all scientific with Jonathan Edwards from The Royal College of Chemistry who’d come up with a mathematical formula for the perfect pud.


Mandy breaking eggs with Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison


Ben Cox hosted us at his fab pub the Star at Sancton, and we did our Masterchef schtick. It was tons of fun! The science pud rose like a creature from the lagoon whilst the traditionals were little golden orbs of loveliness. I’m not at liberty to say who won; you’ll have to watch the programme on 8 January. (BBC1 at 6.30. I know. Shameless self-publicity.)

Royal Society of Chemistry Yorkshire Pudding

Matt Baker and Jonathan Edwards with the chemical formula for Yorkshire puddiing

When Mandy and chef Ben Cox were invited to judge a Yorkshire Pudding contest for BBC1’s  Countryfile,   Yorkshire cook Mary Rook and presenter Ellie Harrison were pitched against Matt Baker and Jonathan Edwards of the Royal Society of Chemistry who had worked out the chemical formula for the perfect Yorkshire pudding.

Jonathan’s rose dramatically and Mandy said it tasted  good too, but in the end the judges voted Mary Rook’s the winner, but it was a close call.

If you want the scientifically perfect Yorkshire pudding Jonathan has supplied this recipe.

This has been scaled up to nicely fit a 10″x 8″ tin.


100 g polysaccharide powder, kitchen grade (flour)

1 g sodium chloride, NaCl, table grade (salt)

2 medium eggs

Solution of 100 cm3 reduced-lipid bovine lactate (milk)

50 cm3 H2O (water)


Put flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, add the egg, stir until the two are combined then start gradually adding the milk and water combining as you go.

Add the liquid until the batter is a smooth and thin consistency.

Stir in half teaspoon of salt and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Put beef dripping into Yorkshire pudding tins or into one large tin but don’t use too much fat.

Put into hot oven until the fat starts to smoke.

Give the batter a final stir and pour into the tin or tins.

Place in hot oven until well risen – should take 10 to 15 minutes.


Always serve as a separate course before the main meal and use the best gravy made from the juices of the roast joint. Yorkshire housewives served Yorkshire pudding before the meal so that they would eat less of the more expensive main course.
NB: When the batter is made it must not be placed in the fridge but be kept at room temperature.

Jamie in Yorkshire

Jamie Oliver at Swillington Farm

Yorkshire foodies were all of a Twitter on Tuesday night during Jamie’s Great Britain on C4 when he was trolling around Yorkshire in his funny caravan complete with wood burning oven. The consensus seemed to be that he did  a good job and made us all proud of Yorkshire.

It was refreshing that this wasn’t the usual round of Yorkshire Dales and Wensleydale cheese stories, though there was a Yorkshire Pudding item. He visited the King’s Arms at Heath, near Wakefield feigning surprise that Yorkshire’s were served as a starter to make the meat go further.

I was pleased to see they found some of the less discovered corners of the county, like the Jewish and Chinese communities in Leeds. They filmed a Chinese chef cooking up a  lunch of sea bass at a Chinese community centre and some Jewish women in Oakwood describing their tradition of smoking and pickling.  There was a good sequence with the guys from the Midnight Bell cooking with beer and they found a terrific Turkish restaurant that I’d love to know more about.

They then found Jamie ‘in the middle of nowhere’, nowhere being  Swillington Organic Farm, Leeds who tweeted ‘our chickens are so free range they kept walking into shot’. The final scene was the sort of  heavenly picnic we’re always having in these parts –  tartan rugs spread out in a field: Wensleydale cheese, pork pies, Leeds Best ale and we even forgave him making Eccles cakes.

The Great Yorkshire Pudding Challenge 2011

Contestants for the Great Yorkshire Pudding Challenge

The first pro-am Great Yorkshire Pudding Challenge took place at the Cooking School, Dean Clough, Halifax yesterday and Mandy and I were judges along with Elaine Lemm, author of The Great Book of Yorkshire Pudding.

Tim Bilton

What a day. Professional chefs from four corners of the county were in the running: Tim Bilton of the Butcher’s Arms, Hepworth representing West Yorkshire; Stephanie Moon of Rudding Park, Harrogate for North Yorkshire and Ben Cox of the Star at Sancton for East Yorkshire. James Wallace from Sheffield’s Milestone had to pull out at the last minute – a crisis in the kitchen – so no South Yorkshire competitor. The starting bell was rung by guest of honour,  Deputy Mayor of Calderdale, Peter Wardhough, then gamely put on his pinny and pitched in

Stephanie Moon

As the mixing got underway, Stephanie Moon and Tim Bilton kept up the banter. Tim, ever the showman, shouted the odds for West Yorkshire while Steph told us of the time she offered to cook roast beef and Yorkshire pudding to an audience of Germans, ‘You mean Yorkshire pudding mit custard?’

The two of them have competed together on BBC2’s Great British Menu so they were coping with the pressure. Ben Cox was the dark horse. A man never known to leave his stove at the Star, he looked as if he was quietly worrying about lunchtime service rather than the state of his Yorkshire’s.

The amateurs were a good humoured bunch but they took their recipes very seriously and while the ingredients: flour milk, eggs and salt, hardly varied, there was much debate about fats, cooking temperatures and tins.

There were crusty old tins that looked as if they’d been in the family for generations, bun tins and  muffin tins, even an old ‘Fray Bentos’ pie tin.  Some measured their ingredients to the gram and others trusted to their eye and experience. Fats varied from lard to duck fat but everyone swore by a hot oven, though hot ranged from Ben Cox’s 200C to Stephen who whacked his up to 275C and almost set off the smoke alarms.

We judged all the puddings anonymously on appearance, taste and texture. Surprisingly despite everyone using the same ingredients, they all looked very different. Some were smooth and shiny while others were craggy and rustic. Texture ranged from soft and eggy to dry and crisp. Taste depended as much on the fat used as the amount of seasoning. Many of them woefully under salted

Winner of the amateur challenge: Christopher Blackburn

And the winner? The best Yorkshire pudding in the amateur class was made by Christopher Blackburn of Copley in Halifax whose secret was beef dripping, a hot oven and muffin tins which made a lovely rustic well risen pudding, crispy on top but with bags of taste and texture.

The winner in the professional class, whose puddings were cooked in duck fat, flavoured with a touch of sage and a drop of light vegetable stock and were by far and away the best I’ve ever eaten were made by Ben Cox of the Star at Sancton, a win then for East Yorkshire.

Prizes included kitchen equipment, afternoon tea at Rudding Park, dinner at the Butcher’s Arms and of course a copy of the Great Book of Yorkshire Pudding.

Me, I went home and made the best Yorkshire puddings I’ve ever made, to Ben Cox’s recipe. But they didn’t look a bit like his.

Modern Cooking for Private Families

‘To the young housekeepers of England’ is the dedication in a new cookery  book out this month. It’s a mighty 630 page  tome dedicated to English cooking addressed  not to celebrity chefs but to home cooks looking to provide family meals and for entertaining. Across 34 chapters it covers everything from soups and sauces, from eggs to entremets.

The book is Modern Cookery for Private Families, a brand new edition of the 1845 classic written by Eliza Acton, and published by Quadrille, part of a series of reprinted cookery classics to be published throughout the year called Classic Voices in Food. Others in the series are Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book and Marcel Boulestin’s Simple French Cooking for English Homes.

The Series Editor, is the estimable Jill Norman, food writer, editor and literary trusteee of the Elizabeth David estate. She relates that when Modern Cookery was first published it was an ‘immediate and lasting success’ but also ruthlessly plagiarised: ‘Mrs Beeton, who published her Book of Household Management in 1861, two years after Eliza’s death, was to be one of the worst offenders’.

This densely packed book is a real work of scholarship that gives a fascinating peep into the kitchens of Victorian England when Water Souchy was cooked ‘at the regular fish dinners for which Greenwich is celebrated’. There are recipes for calf’s head brawn, boiled swans eggs and roast pintail. She describes compotes of forgotten fruits like bullaces, Siberian crabs, green Mogul plums and Norfolk biffins. But the book is not just a collection of long lost ingredients,  the majority of recipes are very recognisable today. Indeed Jill Norman says that she uses Acton’s recipe for Superlative Red Currant Jelly, her Ingoldsby Christmas Pudding and a Good Sponge Cake.

Yorkshire Pudding is there of course with a rich recipe that calls for six eggs, six heaped tablespoons of flour, a pint of milk and a teaspoon of salt with a method that is perfectly usable. Get the tin very hot on the fire, whisk and strain the eggs, gradually mix them into the flour, ‘then pour in by degrees as much new milk as will reduce the batter to the consistence of rather thin cream … beat the batter briskly and lightly the instant before it is poured into the pan’.  She tells us that ‘in Yorkshire it is made much thinner than in the south’ adding that ‘currents there are sometimes added to it’.

Her only other Yorkshire recipe is for a Yorkshire Ploughman’s salad, an odd concoction  mixing treacle, vinegar and shredded lettuce. I don’t know what the ploughmen were up to but that sounds pretty disgusting to me.

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