Exploring Yorkshire Pudding

Updated on December 19, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

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Celebrating the Holidays

The festive days between Christmas and New Years are filled with customs, and foods are central to much of the celebration. For many, a dinner of prime rib is one such tradition. Prime rib is one of the hallmarks of fine dining, and most people enjoy it with the customary accouterments of au jus, horseradish and that strange bread-stuff called Yorkshire pudding.

What Is It, And Where Did It Come From?

Yorkshire pudding is not really a pudding at all, at least if you consider pudding to be a dessert. This concoction of flour, eggs, and milk, baked in the drippings of a roast, was the invention of frugal cooks. Rather than allow those flavorful melted meat fats to plunge into the fire, they were absorbed by a pan of batter placed below.

The first recorded recipe for “dripping pudding” appeared in the book “The Whole Duty of a Woman.” This politically incorrect publication devoted its first 176 pages to "rules, direction, and observations (to the fair sex)…for their conduct and behavior” and covered such topics as modesty, vanity, pride, and “a wife’s behavior to a drunkard.” However, it’s apparent that tending to the feeding of the drunkard was of greater importance since the remaining pages (177 to 646) contain detailed recipes. On page 468 we find:

Make a good batter as for pancakes, put it in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little, then put the pan and batter under a shoulder of mutton instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savory. When your mutton is enough, then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.

Was It Celebration or Sorrow?

Peter Brears, formerly director of York's Castle Museum and for 15 years director of Leeds City Museums, has conducted extensive research on the foods and traditions of British households. He is regarded as one of Britain’s leading food historians and has authored numerous books including “The Gentlewoman's Kitchen”, “Traditional Food in Yorkshire”, “The Complete Housekeeper” and “The Book of Carving”. The Telegraph (an online publication of the U.K.) interviewed Brears and provides this insight:

It could only have been invented, he points out, in a community rich in "both coal and meat". Brears figures that the first ones to cook it must have been the wives of the coal miners of West Riding. The miners were given free coal as a perk of the job and always had large roasts on the table.

If Brears is right, there's a sadness behind Yorkshire pudding. Compared with other local workers, such as weavers or farmers, the miners of Yorkshire were famous for squandering their wages on expensive meals. It was typical for miners to serve "three joints of different sorts of meat on the table at one meal". Plus Yorkshire pudding! The reason these miners spent their money so freely was because their work was dangerous and their life expectancy short. By the time they were in their forties, if they were still alive, most of theYorkshire miners had arthritis and rheumatism, plus silicosis from the dust, and were bent double like old men.

In this context, Yorkshire pudding takes on an "eat, drink and be merry" quality. For tomorrow, we die.

— Peter Brears

But Then Out Of The Coal Mines

Yorkshire pudding is no longer the food of those hoping to fill stomachs with something other than meat, or dining to excess because the end is near. We now enjoy it as part of an annual celebration. And, guess what? You really don't need to have a prime rib (or mutton) to pull this off.

Of course everyone proclaims to have the "best" recipe. Let's look at a few of the ideas on the internet, and then I'll let the jury (that's you) decide.

Recipes

Tyler Florence's Yorkshire Pudding

Tyler Florence (Food Network) prepared this pud on his show "How to Boil Water". Yes, it is just about that easy. You can follow that same link to learn how Tyler prepares prime rib and a yummy side dish of scalloped potatoes.

Foolproof Puddings

The website TheFreshLoaf is a gathering place for baking enthusiasts. That's where I found this recipe for individual foolproof (according to the author) Yorkshire puddings. The directions couldn't be more clear and, as you can see from the photo, they rise tall and proud.

Toad-In-The-Hole

No discussion of yorkies is complete without including a recipe for toad-in-the-hole. For the uninitiated, it's traditional pudding batter baked with sausages. Just as a vegetable or salad and you have a complete meal. Please, don't ask me where that crazy name came from.

The Food Lab's Ultimate Yorkshire Pudding

Perhaps I should have posted this recipe first; with these directions from Kenji, you really don't need to look anywhere else. Here he provides the ultimate set of step-by-step set of instructions and provides the science behind achieving the ultimate towering pud.

© 2017 Linda Lum

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    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh Debby, my mom made popovers too. Wonderful, warm memories.

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      Debby 2 weeks ago

      When I was little my grandmother would make these for us for breakfast on weekends when we stayed over popovers piping hot with butter

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      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Audrey, thank you so much. I hope you were't too distracted by the pics and were able to take in a bit of the history as well. Yes, we will have puds with our prime rib, I'm just not sure which recipe I will use today.

      Happy New Year to you.

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      Audrey Hunt 2 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

      This recipe is to die for. Will make this for New Years. I always look forward to your delicious recipes. Happy 2018!

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      Linda Lum 3 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Kari, I Merry Christmas to you as well. I hope you have a wonderful day. It has just started to snow here in Washington State.

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      Kari Poulsen 3 weeks ago from Ohio

      Merry Christmas, Linda. I have always wondered about Yorkshire pudding, and now I know. I will have to try these, they all look so delicious!

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Thanks, Shauna, I think you would enjoy it. By the way, just to set the record straight Ree Drummond and Jeff Morrow are not chefs (nor am I).

      Merry Christmas to you as well.

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 weeks ago from Central Florida

      I've never had Yorkshire Pudding, but it looks like something I'd enjoy. I've seen many chefs prepare it lately (I watch lots of cooking shows), from Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman to Jeff Morrow on The Kitchen.

      Thanks for making my mouth water, Diva! Merry Christmas!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 weeks ago from london

      I eat meat. So you have a dossier on me? ha ha. Seriously, I am a vegetarian and because of my health, sometimes almost a fruitarian.

      Yes, I felt the English in you. York is a beautiful place. Come over.

    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita - My dad was English. Born here in the States but soon thereafter his mum and dad returned to England where they lived until dad was about 6 years of age.

      And yes, I love history. Look at some of my older articles ("Exploring fill-in-the-blank") and you'll see. I thought you would enjoy this one (even though, I think, you are vegetarian). So good to hear from you.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 weeks ago from london

      I see that you are good at the history too. You must have had an English incarnation.

      Classic English treats.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 4 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Yes I do Linda. I did put it on my Christmas list to give to my brother last month, since I had thrown my mother's tins out when I moved 2.5 years ago.

    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Linda, I'm not sure that the life of miners has improved very much since then. Thanks for stopping by.

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      Linda Crampton 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the information about Yorkshire pudding. It's very interesting. The story about the origin of the pudding is sad. Life must have been very hard for the miners.

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Kristen I like the way you celebrate birthdays. If you're interested, smaller tins made specifically for Yorkshire pudding are available at the "usual online shopping giant." (You know who I mean, wink wink).

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      And an early Merry Christmas to you as well Bill. You don't need to travel clear to York to enjoy them. Anything with gravy is good in my book.

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      Kristen Howe 4 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Linda, I love Yorkshire Pudding. It became my birthday meal at home with green bean casserole and roast beef. I've made it twice on my own last year and not this year. I hope to make it again real soon even with the smaller version in the muffin tins. I would have to check those recipes out.

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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Never tasted it, but since I've never been to York that's no surprise. :) As always, I appreciate the little history lessons that comes with these recipes.

      Wishing you an early Merry Christmas, dear friend.

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, it's what I do, and I enjoy it. Is there a playlist devoted to cooks?

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      Linda Lum 4 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Peggy, so good to see you here. I really enjoy researching the history of these foods.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

      I never had the faintest idea what Yorkshire pudding actually was but thanks to you now I do, along with some history! Thank you as always for entertainment and enlightenment with regards to food.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I made some Yorkshire pudding many years ago. Should do it again sometime. I did not realize the significance of why coal miners used it along with meat in celebration of living for the day. Interesting!