Yorkshire pudding recipes appeared in the early 18th Century. Nearly 300 years later, Yorkshire pudding is still a staple part of a British roast dinner. Its name comes from its place of origin, the county of Yorkshire in the north of England. It can also be referred to simply as a "Yorkshire".
The original recipe, first written in 1737, instructed cooks to place a pan below the roasting meat in the oven to collect the fat, or "dripping" as it is also known. This fat was then used to cook a Yorkshire pudding.
Yorkshire pudding is a basic batter mixture consisting of flour, eggs, and milk or water. It is an identical batter to that used to make British pancakes. The difference between the two recipes is that a Yorkshire pudding is baked in the oven, whereas a pancake is fried in a frying pan. Despite being called a pudding, a Yorkshire pudding is nearly always a savory dish served alongside meat , vegetables, and gravy.
Thanks to the eggs and hot fat, Yorkshire puddings rise when baked in a very hot oven, forming a crispy outside with a softer center. They usually form with a hollow in the middle, providing a perfect container for extra gravy on a roast dinner. They can be baked in a large tin and then cut into pieces to serve, or baked in a muffin tin to make smaller individual Yorkshire puddings.
Larger Yorkshire puddings tend to have a soft, spongy middle, whereas the smaller ones tend to be crispy all the way through.
In pubs across the UK it is quite common to find large Yorkshire puddings served with an entire roast dinner inside.
Toad in the Hole
One of the more famous British meals, Toad in the Hole is sausages served inside a Yorkshire pudding. The origin of the name is unclear, but it is thought to come from the sausages peeking out of the batter, much like a toad peeking out of a pond.
The sausages and Yorkshire puddings can be cooked separately and then served together, or the sausages may be added to the raw batter and cooked inside the pudding. It is often served with onion gravy and vegetables, much like a roast dinner. Vegetarian sausages can also be used as a substitute for those who don't eat meat.
Today, the meat in Toad in the Hole is nearly always sausages, but in the past rump steak or lamb kidneys were used. Often, leftover stewed meat would be reused and cooked again in the batter. One similar recipe in 1747 used pigeon meat, and was called a "Pigeon in a Hole".