Thursday, January 28, 2010

Batter Pudding anyone?

Or as you Americans probably call it, Yorkshire Pudding.

Funny, even though Yorkshire is the proper English name for it, my very proper English grandmother always called it Batter pudding. In fact, I have to force myself to call it Yorkshire pudding when I'm talking to "yanks" about it.

Growing up, I always thought I was the only kid who had Yorkshire pudding on a semi-regular basis. After all I was the one with the grandmother who was actually born and raised in England. That always made me feel a little different, a little special. It still amazes me to learn how many of my adult friends actually like Yorkshire pudding.

My grandmother was an incredible cook, which probably makes all of you who know anything about English cooking laugh a little. Yes, I know English cooking has a reputation for being bland and not worth the price of admission. But Nanny, as she was known to me, could make food delicious. While she could do just as good on American fare, she would still make her old English favorites all the time. While my mouth still waters for some of her fish & chips or her bacon pudding, I must admit I don't miss the jellied tongue she made every year for New Year's.

She grew up during the depression. She was forced to drop out of school at 14 and get a job to help keep the family afloat. And it was while preparing meals for her mom, dad and two little sisters that she learned to cook so well. And I can still hear her voice, with her English accent telling me how much her Daddy loved her batter pudding. How even as a teenager she could make the best he'd ever tasted.

She had been making them for so many years by the time I came around, that she would laugh if I ever actually asked her for a recipe. I made the mistake one time of asking her for the recipe for her "baby's head" (the English terminology for a steamed suet pudding) and it took her almost an hour to give me approximate ingredients and a visual of what consistency I was aiming for. Then she had to call me back when she remembered she actually had a recipe of sorts written down.

So, sans recipe, she made her batter pudding by "feel". And that's the way she taught my mom. And it's the way my mom explains it to me every time I want to make one and call her up and ask her about specific quantities. So I have finally given up on looking at a recipe, and I just go by feel. And in an effort to not risk screwing it up, if my mom happens to be here when I want one for dinner, I let HER make it.

The important thing to remember about Yorkshire pudding is that they will not always be consistent. Even my grandmother would occasionally complain (or more appropriately shout, "Ah, bloody hell!") about the fact that hers fell, or never rose in the first place. My mom still jokes every time she puts one in the oven that crossing fingers & hoping it rises is the most important ingredient.

So bearing that in mind, I can give you the "recipe" that worked for me tonight. TONIGHT, I paid attention to how much flour, salt, etc I put in the bowl so I could share the recipe without simply googling someone else's recipe for you. But as I learned from my Nanny and my mom, I can't promise results.

Yorkshire (Batter) Pudding

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup of milk (probably could have used a splash or two more)
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tbsp meat drippings

For the batter, mix ingredients in a bowl thoroughly (you want it to be the consistency of very thin pancake batter). If you happen to have an egg beater (the little hand mixer with the handle that you manually turn), use it and make my grandmother proud. But if you're like me, just use a fork. :) Set the bowl aside for at least 30 minutes to an hour so it can rest and come to room temperature.

Once your meat is done and removed from the oven, spoon drippings into a glass pie dish. (Note: pie dish is the right size for this amount of batter, you can always increase the ingredients and make a larger pudding.) Place dish in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes to get it hot. Remove dish from oven and pour in the batter. Return to oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Note: If you're fancying Yorkshire pudding, but aren't making a roast, you can use shortening or oil in the bottom of the pie dish instead. And if you want individual popovers, you can always make them in muffin tins.

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