Yorkshire pudding is poor man’s fare that made a virtue out of a necessity – the necessity here being to stretch the meat as far as possible. It was also economical, using a little flour, an egg, salt and some milk. The original version was doubly economical, cooking beneath the spit-roasting meat, catching dripping juices and making best use of the roasting fire.
Historically it was served as a first course with the gravy from the roasting beef as well as the fat and juices that had dripped into it. For the children of poor families the Yorkshire pudding was the meal, the beef reserved for father. In Yorkshire it’s still frequently served with onion gravy as a starter.
Today the pudding is usually part of a roast beef main course, generally in bun sized versions, though the dinner-plate size cut into slices is more traditional, often serving as a platter where crockery was unaffordable. This style has seen a revival in pub food, with various fillings poured in the centre.
The Yorkshire has also long served as a sweet pudding, with jam, golden syrup, condensed milk, or in past times raspberry vinegar as flavouring.
At its best the pudding is light, well risen, and with a crispy surface.
For one large pudding, mix 100g sifted plain flour, an egg, a large pinch of salt, and 125ml each of milk and water. A little dripping from your beef joint helps the consistency. Whisk to a batter. Heat your pudding-tin with dripping or lard in the oven before putting it on direct heat and adding the batter. Put it straight in the hot (220 – 230C) oven, and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. Time this well, the pudding goes soggy if forced to wait once out of the oven.