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The Yorkshire Pudding - a humble history

I was lucky enough to be taken by Visit Britain to New York and Boston last year to promote Yorkshire to the US Travel Trade. Over 5 days we had lots of meetings and I usually had 20 minutes to sell Real Yorkshire Tours. I did expect them all to have heard of Yorkshire and know a bit about the area but I was quite surprised about the lack of knowledge with only a small proportion of these tour operators having even heard of York.

But, the thing which most struck a chord with them to which they had some awareness of was “The Yorkshire Pudding!”.

I decided to research this Yorkshire icon which was recently voted in a poll conducted by T-Mobile as one of the Top 10 things which people loved about Britain…

It turns out that Yorkshire Puddings have been around for a while as cooks in Yorkshire had the lightbulb moment of using the fat from a dripping pan to cook a batter based pudding in the oven whilst a joint roasted.

The first recorded recipe actually dates back to 1737 and was featured in a book written by Sir Alexander William George Cassey called “The Whole Duty of a Woman” (not sure anyone would get away with a book title like this these days). In the book the dish was actually called “Dripping Pudding” and rather than beef which it is traditionally served with now it was an accompaniment to mutton.

Dripping Pudding recipe – “make a good batter as for pancakes, put in a hot toss-pan over the fire, add a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little, then put the pan instead of a dripping pan and under a shoulder of mutton, shake it frequently and it will be light and savoury.  When the mutton is done, turn it in a dish and serve hot.”

It wasn’t until 1747 that the name “Yorkshire Pudding” started to be recognised for this savoury dish when Hannah Glasse, tweaked the original recipe in her book “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple”

Pic credit: WikiMedia/W.Wangford

The instructions of how to make the original Yorkshire pudding are painted on the side of a house in Malton. With Malton having positioned itself as “Yorkshire’s Food Capital” this is particularly apt.

Originally a starter…

Whilst the Yorkshire Pudding is now a firm staple of The British Sunday roast, but this has not always been the case.

When times were harder and meat was expensive, the Yorkshire Pudding was used as a way to fill diners prior to the main course. The Yorkshire Pudding would be served with gravy from the roast meat dripping and would come out as a starter.

There is Yorkshire saying “them ‘at eats t’most pudding gets t’most meat”

Sometimes a dessert…

The Yorkshire Pudding uses basically the same ingredients as the pancake. So leftover pancakes used to be served cold with jam or syrup as a pudding. Come to think of it they are a bit like profiteroles!

Aunt Bessie’s Puddings

For people who have failed in their attempts to master the Yorkshire Pudding there is always Aunt Bessie’s frozen Yorkshire Puds to fall back on. Whilst most traditional Yorkshire folk would rather starve than eat a cooked from frozen Yorkshire Pudding, Aunt Bessie’s factory in Hull produces 53 million packs of Yorkshire Pudding a year so someone is buying them.

Yorkshire Pudding Day is the first Sunday in February!

The Definitive Recipe & ingredients


2 heaped serving spoons of flour 2 eggs at room temperature Milk and water mixed (even parts) 2 tbsp beef dripping Salt

How to cook Yorkshire Pudding

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and season with a little salt. Gradually add the milk and water mixture until a consistency of thick double cream is achieved. Leave to stand for at least an hour.

Just before putting in the oven, whisk two eggs and add to the mixture, whisking the batter until smooth.

To cook the Yorkshire pudding, remove the meat from the oven and turn the oven up to the above temperature.

Spoon beef fat into the roasting tin and allow it to pre-heat in the oven. When the oven is up to temperature remove the tin and place it over direct heat until the fat begins to smoke.

Pour in the batter. Tip it evenly all round and then place the tin on a high shelf in the oven and cook the Yorkshire pudding for 30 minutes or until risen, golden brown and crisp.

Serve immediately.

Top Tip

Make sure the fat in the tin is really hot and almost smoking before you add the batter or else your Yorkshire Puddings won’t rise!

It did make me laugh when researching this piece when I found that The Royal Society of Chemistry had suggested in 2008 that “a Yorkshire Pudding is not a Yorkshire Pudding unless it is 4 inches tall”. I’ll let you be the judge of that!

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