Yorkshire Pudding: A Brief History Of Our Favourite Savoury Pudding

Remember the episode from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. when Rachel baked an ‘English Trifle’ with a layer of beef, upon enquiring about the same she remarks, that the English have a peculiar taste. She may have botched up the recipe because of a tattered recipe book, but the English do have a penchant for playing with recipes and ‘rules’. How else would you explain a pudding that is not sweet, but savoury? To be fair, puddings can be savoury, just because a majority of them are sweet, does not mean the savoury are any inferior. Yorkshire pudding, a common English side dish often made with a batter of flour, eggs, milk and water can be served in various ways throughout the course of a meal. It can also be baked with sausages, this dish is called the toad in the hole.  

From Drip Puddings To Yorkshire Pudding

British cuisine has borrowed a lot from French cuisine, especially their fascination for bread and baked goods. It is said that even the Yorkshire pudding came from the Burgundy, and in Britain it underwent refinement.  

So how did the pudding get its unique name? So, when wheat flour became a common baking ingredient for cakes, puddings etc in Northern England, the cooks thought of using up the fats and remains collected in the dripping pans after a roast, and cook them in a pudding. Wheat would work well with just about everything, and this was a good opportunity to minimise wastage. This new pudding came to be known as “a dripping pudding” in a 1737 recipe book. In 1747, another recipe that bore many similarities to ‘dripping pudding’ made it to the book The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse. It was here that this pudding was called 'Yorkshire pudding' and the name stuck. By the 16th century, Yorkshire pudding became a fixture across most lavish meals and Sunday roasts. They used to be slightly flat in comparison to their fluffier modern counterparts and were usually served in the first course with a thick gravy since the host didn’t want the diners to ask for second helpings of the expensive meat that was to follow in the next course. Since the English were too polite to refuse their guests, they would try to fill them up as much as possible in the first course itself.  

Another very popular legend associated with the name of the pudding has to do with Yorkshire’s association with coal and high temperatures. Both of which were key requisites in the making of the pudding.  

Now, the Yorkshire pudding is made with a batter comprising milk, flour and eggs. The thin and smooth batter is poured into preheated baking pans or ramekins. The flour to milk ratio is usually same, so for 200 ml milk, you have to use 200 mg flour. Some people also use water in the recipe, it sure makes the pudding light and crisp, but milk adds a traditional, sweet richness to the pudding. If you don’t want to bake it in oven, you can make them on frying pans as well.  

The pudding has attained such an iconic status in the UK now that National Yorkshire Pudding Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in February in Britain since the year 2007.