Actually this is not a man-sized bird, nor an Egyptian god, but the lovely Liz Green performing at Rough Trade in Notting Hill. Beautiful songs, beautiful voice.
-Dave, I’ve gone deaf
-Tom. What you need is more chilli.
-What the fuck are you talking about, didn’t you hear me? I’m fucking lip-reading
-I know. Trust me. Have some more chilli
-Okay. I just pissed I think. Or maybe it’s just my thighs bleeding
-Good stuff, this is really super good curry. I’m oscillating between the Earth and Mars.
-What? Sorry, I couldn’t see your lips
-Tom, have some of this psychedelic chilli sauce
-Dave, the waiters are looking at us like reprobates. It’s not like we are eating crack
-I am eating crack.
-Don’t you mean extra hot chicken Phal with extra chilli, with chopped Naga chilli on the side?
-Yes, Tom, yes.
-Right. I want more wine
-Tom, you know what we need is this special chilli my mate Angstrum heard about. It is only grown in a cave near Taunton under special hydronic lights
-You can’t have hydroponic lights
-Yes you can Tom. I have smelled them.
-Right. What the fuck is going on? I think I just heard something snap. Did you hear that? Like a pinging thong on a cold, fat thigh
-We need to get our hands on this chilli, Tom. It is forty-three times hotter than a Naga. It is called the Psychic Shitstorm
-Dave, that sounds like the time we drove back from that free party at seven in the morning and almost got into a fight with that pompous bitch in Jodhpurs
-What a twat
-Waiter, can we have another plate of chopped green chilli please? And some more bottles of wine? Thank you. Look at that mad fucker
Making Yorkshire Pudding is easier and quicker than buying pre-made. It is also yields incomparably better puddings- like the difference between freshly fried and microwave chips, instant and fresh coffee, or a nice bottle of Laphroaig and that cleaning stuff I get from the garage down the road when I am really desperate. As with pork crackling recipes, I have noticed there is a lot of useless methodology circulated by otherwise perfectly respectable chefs and food writers. And again, as with pork crackling, I have endeavoured to boil off the nonsense and reduce the watery stock of fable down to a poignant syrup of practical advice.
QUICK SUMMARY RECIPE FOR IMPATIENT BROWSERS:
- Make batter: A. Put some plain flour in a bowl (no point measuring – see below) B. Crack in an egg, and whisk to a smooth stiff paste- preferably no thinner than thick porridge. If it is too dry, add more egg (and then flour), if it is too runny, just add more flour C. Whisk in milk until the batter is the consistency of double cream
- Get metal receptacle for your pudding (the shape affects the manner in which the pudding will rise). Does not need preheating or anything like that, despite what you may have heard (see below)
- Add oil (roasting fat is best but not vital) to cooking receptacle. Again, despite popular myths, no preheating is required (see below). Add more oil than you think- the batter needs to be covered. At least 1 cm deep oil is a good guide
- Pour batter into tin / receptacle. It is best to pour into centre of oil. Do not pour in too much: the batter should be floating in a coat of oil like a big yolk in albumin
- Place in a 200˚C oven. Do not open the door until puddings have puffed and set- they will go a light brown on top where the oven is hottest. Should take 15-20 minutes
puddings rise fast but then collapse quickly
- Use a higher proportion of egg in the batter. Egg makes it hold.
- The oven is too hot: the pudding rises too fast and it wont cook through before they start to burn. The heat needs time to penetrate to the cooler centre of the batter while not burning the outside. Reduce the heat (next time)
Pudding is too crunchy, even chalky, or a wee bit plasticky
- Use a lower proportion of egg / higher proportion of milk in the batter
-You are eating a poor quality toy, not your Yorkshire pudding
Don’t bother weighing the flour. After a couple of times you will know roughly how much to use. The final consistency of the batter is all that matters, and that is determined by the amount of milk you add. This can only be done by feel- trying to measure the milk according to some recipe is only going to leave the end result to chance.
The amount of flour you use really only determines how much wastage you have at the end. This is only worth worrying about when you have got the technique down. Although I hate food wastage In general, I see it as something of a necessary evil when learning and practising. It is only a little dairy down the drain for the minute.
Determining the amount of flour is like choosing the size of a canvas before you start painting. Maybe.
Okay, if you want me to be specific, start with a mug full of flour. Or a small mango sized heap. God, just put some flour in a bowl, you’ll get the hang of it.
The proportion of egg you use affects how much the pudding rises and how solid it is at the end of cooking.
Why not use all egg then? The puddings would be massive and light!
Well the problem is that the puddings will become too hard and chalky, and the flavour is not as nice – I think it should have an element of creamy pancake to it. Using milk to thin the mixture from paste to batter imparts just enough flavour and softens the texture, but not enough to make the puds collapse too easily.
On your tin / receptacle:
Some people like lots of little puddings, some like one big one. In my experience it is determined by whatever is to hand. Obviously it is easier to divide lots of individual puddings between lots of people, and the texture will be more uniform due to the lower ratio of volume to surface area, allowing more consistent heat penetration and less difference between cooking times of surface and centre. however, it can be nice to do massive Yorkshires. Why not serve all your roast beef and veg and gravy in one massive mediaeval pudding? Or a Sunday roast wrap, rolled up in a big Yorkshire pudding? Maybe thats going a little too far…
Inevitably the centre of these big ones wont be as uniformly crisp as with smaller ones, but I quite like having that pancake texture in the middle.
Non-stick and non-non-stick: no difference due to the amount of oil you should be using. However, non-stick surfaces can be useful for cleaning off those inevitable burnt on drips from your ladle…
You can try different vessels for different effects. For example, here is a quick Yorkshire made in a blini pan:
Essentially you will find that the initial profile of the batter in the vessel will determine how the pudding expands. Imagine it like first of all setting a balloon which you then inflate.
EVERY recipe I have ever seen insists on preheating the tin and oil, probably till smoking or sizzling or something.
I have never found this to make a difference at all. My Yorkshires always rise and cook perfectly without pre-heating. The idea, I suppose is that the oil is supposed to seal the batter which then expands like a balloon.
But batter does not mix with the oil, unless you give it a stir. Metal and oil heat up very quickly and are closer to the source of heat, so there will be a thermal differential due to the physical nature of the cooking apparatus.
If your oven is at the right temperature, then Yorkshire puddings will cook in a about 15-20mins, in my experience. Mind, different ovens behave differently which can affect cooking time. This can depend on factors like shape and air circulation.
As you will want to serve the puddings fresh from the oven, it is a good idea to put them in just when your roast has been taken out to rest. Remember it is hotter at the top shelf. Don’t put them too high in the oven or when they rise they’ll squash against the top, of course.
On general method:
Blindly following a tight recipe will rarely work, unless you get lucky. Cooking is not like assembling flat pack furniture (thank God). There are all sorts of factors which vary – the size of eggs, ambient temperatures etc.). It is a good idea to have at least a bit of a grasp of what is going on so you can adapt.
The success of a Yorkshire pudding batter is dependent upon its consistency. It can take quite subtle adjustments to get it right, bet when you know what you are looking for it will be easy. Experiment, and learn from mistakes is my motto.