#425 The Prize-Winning Chinese Yorkshire Pudding

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to this one – it should have been low-hanging fruit really…
This recipe is the second of two Yorkshire pudding recipes in English Food; the first (#181 Yorkshire Pudding) was a bit of a disappointment, cooked in the early days of the blog when my skills were not quite a good as today. This one supposedly produces a huge, light and crisp pudding which “swell[s] to the height of a coronation crown.” Hmm, we’ll see about that!
The recipe comes from a Mr Tin Sung Chan a Hong Kong chef who skilfully beat five other British chefs at their own game in the ‘Great Yorkshire Pudding Contest’ which took place in the great Yorkshire city of Leeds circa 1970.
As we all know, there is nothing more British than roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and Yorkshire folk have naturally become very proud of their pud; it is certainly the most famous food in the Yorkshireman’s edible arsenal. Unfortunately, the pride is a little misplaced because there is nothing particularly Yorkshire about it. Batter puddings have been cooked around the country for centuries (and not always with beef either). The first recipe for such a pudding appears in the 1737 publication called The Whole Duty of Women where it was called a dripping pudding. However, a few decades later, in The Experienced English Housekeeper, we see it called Yorkshire pudding for the first time. 
In Yorkshire – like many things – the Yorkshire pudding is associated with thriftiness where is not customarily served with the roast but as a starter with gravy; the idea being that the family filled up on cheap pudding and therefore ate less meat!

A batter pudding made in the traditional way under spit-roasted meat (source: historicfood.com)


The traditional way to cook a Yorkshire pudding was to lay a large tin called a dripping pan beneath the roasting meat so that it could heat up and catch some meat fat. Once a good layer of it had formed, the batter was quickly tipped into the pan. All of this could happen underneath a spit-roasted joint or within an proper oven (something to consider next time you cook a roast, perhaps..?).
One of the biggest points of conjecture between cooks is the method of cooking – just how does one ensure a good rise? I have had many arguments. What are the proportions? Plain or strong flour? Beef dripping or sunflower oil and just how hot should it be? For how long should you beat the batter and for how long should it rest? How much batter should be used and should it be chilled or at room temperature?
With all this fuss and debate, it is good to see that this recipe is pretty straight-forward:
In a bowl beat together half a pint of milk (I went for whole milk), four eggs, a scant half-teaspoon of salt, a little black pepper and half a teaspoon of tai luk sauce*. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes and heat the oven up to 230°C. 


In another bowl sift eight ounces of plain flour. Make a well in the centre and pour in around a third of the milky mixture. Beat in with a whisk. Pour in the next third and whisk until smooth and then the last of it, beating again. This technique of adding the liquid in stages should give you a nice lump-free batter.


If you’ve just roasted a joint of meat, pour the dripping fat into a clean roasting tin. Alternatively, add your own lard, dripping or oil and heat in the oven or hob. Once good and hot, pour in the batter and pop in the oven for precisely 20 minutes and 52.2 seconds.


#425 The Prize-Winning Chinese Yorkshire Pudding 6/10. This was an okay Yorkshire pudding, but it certainly did not ‘swell to the height of a coronation crown’! I reckon my own recipe is pretty good and definitely beats it…unless of course, there is a nifty trick or two the Chinese chef did not divulge. (By the way, my current recipe is different to the one I posted on the blog many years ago, I need to update it I feel.)

*which does not exist: ‘For years’, says Jane, ‘I puzzled over tai luk sauce, asking at Chinese groceries without success. Then an enterprising niece found what seems to be the answer: her request for tai lukwas greeted with much laughter: apparently it means ‘mainland’, i.e. ‘mainland China’. So tai luk was a kind of secret-ingredient joke, an amiable joke at the expense of Yorkshire patriotism.’

#181 Yorkshire Pudding

If one is having roast beef (or roast anything, for that matter) one simple has to have Yorkshire pudding. I have been using my own Yorkshire pudding recipe for years (it can be found on a previous entry) and I was not sure about someone else’s, even Griggers’.

In English Food, Griggers says to pour the batter, once made, into a roasting tray below the meat (see last entry). However, you can pour the batter into small trays. In Yorkshire, we make giant ones in sandwich tins and put our meat, veg and gravy inside. Other alternatives are to have them as a starter with a little gravy or with some sugar, or for afters with golden syrup or sweetened condensed milk pour over. The idea of the former being that you can fill your guests up with Yorkshire pudding, so they eat less meat later! That’s Yorkshire folk. It is, of course, also the batter required to make toad-in-the-hole (also on the blog!).

The first Yorkshire pudding recipe appears in 1737 in a book called The Whole Duty of Women and is pretty much unchanged, though it does state that it should be eaten with roast mutton. Now there’s a bombshell!

Before I give the recipe, I have two important instructions that Griggers doesn’t explicitly give: first, make your batter as early as possible, the night before if you can remember to; second, make sure your oven is very hot and that the fat used in the tray is very hot too. These two simple rules will help your Yorkshires to rise and rise.

Start by making pouring half a pint each of milk and water into a jug. To make the batter, mix 8 ounces of flour and a pinch of salt in bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack three eggs inside plus some half-milk half-water mix. Mix everything together to make a thick paste. Add most of the water-milk until you have a creamy and pourable mixture (I used the whole lot). Leave the batter to settle. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place some fat (oil or dripping) in your tin and let it get good and hot. Pour the batter into the tin and give it 40 minutes to rise.


#181 Yorkshire Pudding. If you are doing it the traditional way in a single roasting tin, Griggers doesn’t say what size you should use – it turns out you should use a big one! Mine was too small so the batter was rather deep and so it didn’t crisp up properly. Some people like it like that, but I don’t. That said it did taste good from the beef fat dripping on top of it throughout cooking. Hmmmm. Tricky to mark. 3/10 I think, but that’s because they weren’t in the correct sized tray. I’m pretty sure they would score higher (though not as high as my own ones!).

#180 Roast Beef

It was Charlotte’s birthday last Sunday, so she got to choose a birthday meal. She chose well – in fact she chose the most British meal you could possibly imagine – Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding. We British love our roast beef, and were very good at cooking it; the French called us rosbif, not to be rude, but out of respect, as we had the roasting of meat down to a fine art. In fact French chefs would come to Britain to learn the art of roasting on the spit. These days of course, we used our conventional oven to roast our meat, so technically we are making baked beef, not roast beef.

Roasting beef (or any other meat, in fact) is not hard as long as three simple rules are followed: buy good quality beef that has been hung for at least 21 days, season it well (especially if you are crispy fat fan), and roast it from room temperature – don’t go straight from fridge to oven. I bought a rib of beef from my new favourite butcher – Axon’s of Didsbury. A six pound monster that came to £30 – you may think this is expensive, but you get what you pay for and is enough to provide for six or seven people. Also, I have been making good meals from the leftovers: beef and oyster mushrooms in oyster sauce (I picked the mushrooms myself whilst walking in the woods!) and an oriental beef and noodle soup. So in the end, it actually pays to spend a bit more, as you get more out of it. Lecture over.

For roast beef, Griggers suggests either rib or sirloin on the bone with undercut. You need at least 5 pounds in weight. The first thing to do is to season you meat well with salt and pepper the night before. Keep in the fridge overnight by all means, but make sure you remove it from the fridge in plenty of time for it to get to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Weight the meat and calculate the cooking time: 15 minutes per pound for rare, add an extra 20 minutes at the end for medium-well done. The joint needs to be able to sit on a rack inside the roasting tray in the oven, but first place the tray on its own with enough beef dripping to cover the bottom for five minutes before adding the joint and rack. If you are making Yorkshire puddings, you could make them in the traditional way of pouring the mixture into the roasting tin, or pour batter into trays if you prefer. Either way put them in 40 minutes before the end of cooking. When the time is up, remove the beef (keep the Yorkshires in, if need be) and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving and slicing. Place on a serving dish surrounded by cut-up pieces of Yorkshire pudding.


Whilst the beef is cooking, make the gravy by frying a sliced onion in some beef dripping with a teaspoon of sugar until it turns a deep brown. Add half a pint of beef stock and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Season and serve, or if you like a smooth sauce, strain it. Serve with roast parsnips, roast potatoes and horseradish sauce, plus some seasonal green veg.

#180 Roast Beef. I cooked my beef rare because it shows off the quality and taste of good meat, and very good it was too. The outside fat was crispy, and the inside was pink, juicy and tender – proper melt-in-the-mouth stuff. I give it 8.5/10 – as far as beef goes it’s just excellent, but roast lamb in the winner when it comes to red meat.

#82 Toad-in-the-Hole

Very sorry for the recent few weeks being blog-lite. However folks, this doesn’t mean I’ve not been cooking, just been rather busy with work, plus I have become rather a social butterfly of late. Anyways, I have decided to go through the book and do some of the proper classics. So first up is (#82) Toad-in-the-Hole. I do love it. You have to make sure you get decent sausages. I was mant to get mine from the butchers in Levenshulme or Chorlton, but ran out of time as I worked late, and had to go to blinking Asda. However, did find some organic pork sausages in natural casing, which were very good. Didn’t think I’d be recommending Asda on here, bearing in mind their animal-rights record. I cooked it for John, who – shock horror – had never had it before! That’s the Irish for you.

Makes four servings:

First of all make some Yorkshire pudding batter. I usually do this by eye, but followed Grigger’s measurements which do turn out well. Mix 8 ounces of plain flour with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and break 3 eggs into it. Make up a pint of half-milk, half-water and add about a third of it to the flour and eggs. Whisk this into a thick paste – adding only some of the liquid at the beginning should prevent lumps. Keep adding the liquid until the batter is the consistency of double cream. Leave to rest.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220ºC and then brown a pound of sausages in an ounce of lard in a frying pan; you’re not cooking them through, just getting two decent brown stripes along their lengths. Strain the fat into a large roasting pan and pour a thin layer of batter and bake in the oven until set – about 5 minutes. Place the sausages on top of the set batter and pour over the rest. Bake for 35 minutes. The batter should rise up and be a nice golden brown. Serve with some veg and onion gravy.


#82 Toad-in-the-Hole: 9/10. I love this kind of food. Can’t go wrong with this kind of food. If for some reason you have never had it before, simply go and make it right now. You have a recipe. It’s very easy. The only thing I ask is that you buy good sausages and make onion gravy to go with it, otherwise it’s just not the same.

#54 Yorkshire Almond Tart

They say that you are what you eat, and being from Pudsey in Leeds, I suppose that makes me a Yorkshire tart, or something. One of my favourite puds is Yorkshire curd tart, but I’d not heard of a Yorkshire almond tart (if you’ve not heard of a curd tart, go and hunt one down), I had Greg, Joff and my mate from way, way, way back, Lee over for a curry, I had most of the ingredients in, so I thought I’d give it a crack. Have a go; it’s a piece of piss!

Roll out some puff pastry (I bought mine, but there is a recipe for it in English Food; I haven’t plucked up the courage, nor had the spare 5 days or whatever to put aside in order to make it) and line a deep plate, or a pie plate. Whisk up 2 egg yolks, 2 ounces of sugar and the rind and juice of half a lemon in a basin or bowl until creamy. This is not as arduous as it sounds, it happens quickly, I assume because of the citric acid in the lemons stabilising the egg proteins. Add an ounce each of ground almonds and melted butter, and whisk the mixture over simmering water for 8 to 10 minutes, I reckon, until it becomes thicker. Pour the mixture onto the pastry and spread the mixture leaving a good gap at the edges and bake at 190 degrees C for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown on top. Whilst your waiting for that whisk two egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff, when the pie is done, spread the egg whites over the top and sprinkle over a tablespoon of sugar and return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Eat warm. Foolishly, I forgot to buy cream.


#54 Yorkshire almond tart – 7.5/10. Very sweet, sticky and yummy! This comes as no surprise being a Yorkshire dish. The filling and eggs collapsed rather, and I’m not sure if it meant to – perhaps next time I’ll add the tablespoon of sugar to the eggs to make a meringue that shouldn’t sink. That said, the pastry was crisp, the almond insides were soft in the centre, but caramelised on top, the eggs were light-ish, and the sugar had formed a very pleasing crust. The only other way it could’ve been improved would be to have a dollop of vanilla ice cream with it.

My recipe for Yorkshire Puddings

In my humble opinion there’s nothing better in the world than having your Sunday lunch in a giant Yorkshire pudding. Here’s my recipe that makes two giant Yorkshires or 6 normal-sized ones. Fill them with your favorite roast meat and Sunday veg. Pour over loads of onion gravy. The gravy must be thick – this is not a time for watery gravies – proper Yorkshire food sticks to the ribs. These are easy-peasy and they always come out massive; you don’t even need to weigh anything – you just need a ramekin to fill up. I reckon an average ramekin is about 1/2 an American cup in volume.

Ingredients:
1 ramekin plain flour
1 ramekin half milk, half water mixture
2 eggs
pinch of salt
a flavourless oil or lard

  1. Whisk together the flour, milk, water eggs and salt until it is a smooth batter. Let it rest as long as possible – at least an hour. The longer the rest, the bigger the rise!
  2. Heat your oven to 200 degrees C. It must be at temperature when you want to cook the puddings.
  3. Add around 2 tablespoons of oil to 2 sandwich tins – enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer of oil. Put the tins in the oven for a good 10 minutes so that they are really hot.
  4. Quickly take out the tins and pour divide the mixture between them. There should be a satisfying sizzle.
  5. Put back in oven for 20-25 minutes until they are well-risen and golden brown.