Earlier this month I discovered to my delight that the first Sunday of February is designated British Yorkshire Pudding Day.  If there is ever an excuse to eat Yorkshire pudding then I’ll take it and you can be sure I will celebrate this glorious British institution with gusto.  Yorkshire Puds

The staple of a traditional Sunday lunch, Yorkshire pudding has been a popular dish in this country since as far back as the early 1700s.  It was invented to make use of the fat from the dripping pan while the joint of meat roasted in the oven and, thus, the ‘dripping pudding’ was born.  Originally made in a rectangular tin, the Yorkshire pudding was eaten as a first course served with thick gravy. The idea of this was to fill up the diners with low-cost, carb-heavy food so that they would eat less of the expensive meat in the second course.  Gradually the Yorkshire pudding became part of the main meal itself although it is still served as a starter in some parts of Yorkshire today, as well as enjoyed as a dessert and served with jam or golden syrup and cream. 

Yorkshire puddings are still hugely popular in this country and big business in the UK; Aunt Bessies, the biggest ready-made Yorkshire pudding brand, make up to 20 million each week.  What’s more, there is an ongoing battle to grant this humble staple ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ status, much like Stilton cheese and Clotted Cream.  

The secret of making a really good Yorkshire pudding is to ensure your fat is very hot before adding the batter.  This will result in a lovely crispy edge whilst maintaining a fluffy soft middle. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door either otherwise your puddings will flop; there’s nothing better than impressing your guests with a towering, golden pud.  In fact, in 2008, the Royal Society of Chemistry suggested that "A Yorkshire pudding isn't a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall". So keep that oven door shut and your fingers crossed if you want to achieve perfection.

If you want to be really authentic then use beef dripping to cook the puds but vegetable oil will work well too.

Ingredients (makes approx. 12 large puddings)

140g plain flour
4 eggs
200ml milk
Pinch of salt
Vegetable oil or beef dripping           

Whisk the flour, eggs, milk and salt together in a large bowl to make a smooth batter.  Pour into a jug and allow to rest for an hour or so. 

When you are ready to cook your Yorkshire puddings, pre-heat the oven to 230c and place a couple of muffin trays on a baking tray to heat up. When the oven reaches temperature, remove the trays and add a little oil or dripping (about a teaspoon) to each muffin hole. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes until the oil is very hot. 

Carefully and quickly pour the batter into each mould and cook for 15 minutes until well risen and golden. This will result in a lovely crispy outer with a soft and fluffy middle.  If you prefer your Yorkshire pudding to be crispy all the way through then cook for another 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.