I’m a great fan of the Great British Bake-Off… but I’m not going to enter into the debate about the news that the show is leaving the BBC and losing two of its core presenters, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins… I’m going to concentrate on enjoying the present 2016 competition. Last night was batter week, a first, where the contestants have to cook what seems a most humble and easy thing, batter… So, last night there were Yorkshire puddings, churros and pancakes… sounds simple, but indeed it wasn’t!
I love cooking and preparing all sorts of different foods, and on the whole I’m not to bad – nowhere near Bake-Off or Masterchef standards, but most things I cook are OK, and some are quite good. However… although I’ve cooked them hundreds and hundreds of times, I am not consistently any good at Yorkshire puddings.
I should say here, that at home we always called them batter puddings, and to tease my Yorkshire friends I still sometimes call them batters rather than Yorkshires. They are the simplest things really, a batter which is cooked in the oven, traditionally in the fat from roasting the Sunday joint, and delicious as they are their function is as a ‘filler’ so people ate less of the expensive meat.In some families the Yorkshire/batter pudding was served first with gravy, before the meat, vegetables and roast potatoes.
My mum, who was an amazing cook, always had the most beautifully risen, crispy round the edges, soft but not soggy and cooked middle, as light as a feather… She didn’t beat the batter, she had a shaker – a pale green plastic cone-shaped container with ridges inside, everything went in and was shaken vigorously until the batter ingredients were all beautifully mixed. It would be left to stand until ready to be poured into the pan. She always cooked it in the big roasting pan where the meat had been, although all the juices had been poured off to make the gravy, the fat returned to the fan and back it went in the oven to get really hot. Later, much later, she made individual puddings, but not the tiny ones you see everywhere now, cooked in bun tins, a medium-sized pud for each person. Changing the pas and the size of the pans didn’t affect the quality of the puddings, still as delicious as if made by angels!
So having said how easy it is, I’m not sure my mum even measured the ingredients, but having said how easy it is, why don’t mine consistently work? I actually have no idea. I’m good at making other batters, like for pancakes or clafoutis, but batter pudding batter never seems to produce the correct results. I’ve tried different temperatures, different fats and even oil, different types of flour, differnt sized pans… to be fair, they are usually edible, although sometimes like a crispy pancake, sometimes like a batter balloon, sometimes perfect on one side and a hideous distortion on the other, some burned, some pale and feeble…
- 4 oz plain flour
- pinch salt
- 1 medium egg
- ½ pint milk (or milk and water)
- Heat oven to 230ºC, 450ºF, Gas Mark 8
- Heat oil or fat in a shallow tin or 4 a four pudding tin, or 12 patty tins; put in the oven until it’s almost smoking hot
- Pour all the batter into the tin, or almost fill patty tins
- Bake for about 30 minutes for a large pudding, 20 minutes for small ones
So simple, isn’t it… so what goes wrong? A mystery… maybe I should try again…
My featured image is of a lovely cottage in Yorkshire… I’m sure the people behind this door have perfect puddings every time!