There will always be a connection between Yorkshire pudding and my first years of journey as a cook and foodie. Pudding is a staple at every British table. You will find tons of pudding varieties but Yorkshire pudding is the cream of the crop. Making the best Yorkshire pudding is the ultimate achievement of food enthusiasts like me. So I decided to discover and master the science behind creating the best Yorkshire pudding.
The Fundamentals of Baking Yorkshire Pudding
I’m going to share with you the basics of baking Yorkshire pudding but bear in mind that it is not our main objective here. Our goal is to discover the different theories and science behind the creation of the perfect Yorkshire pudding.
Traditional cooking uses large pans but modern recipes are more flexible to use popover pans or muffin tins. Other baking versions improvise with pans for glass top stove.
I have come across Yorkshire pudding recipes as old as the mid 18th century. Traditional and modern recipes may have slight differences but the basic ingredients include a mixture of milk, flour, eggs, and a dash of salt for the batter. Pour the batter into the pan that was greased with roast drippings.
Making Yorkshire pudding dough follows the same principles used to make a French pate a choux. The thin pastry is the same as that in gougeres, Parisian-style gnocchi, and cream puffs. Steam is used to make the high-moisture dough puff and rise and achieve a crisp and light form. The moist batter of Yorkshire pudding pours like cream. When the batter puffs, it rises at least four times its volume.
Discover the Yorkshire Pudding Theories
I have spent hundreds of hours in the kitchen, testing the following Yorkshire pudding theories. I hope my discoveries, with scientific proof that is, will help you with your Yorkshire pudding success.
Theory #1: Cold Batter Makes Better Puds
There is a debate on this notion to chill the batter in the fridge first before pouring it over the ripping hot pan with drippings from the oven. I tested this theory and made comparisons with the heights and textures of the pudding. Warmer batter rises better. Colder batter makes a distinct cup shape as the center stays pooled and weighed down.
VERDICT: Depend on your preference. You can use warmer batter if you like crisper and taller puddings with hollow cores. If you like denser cup shaped puddings, cold batter is the perfect option.
Theory #2: Use a Hot Pan for Starters
A searing hot pan causes the batter to puff and rise better and the batter is less likely to stick. I tested this theory and though the batter still rises with cold tin, parts of the batter stuck to the bottom.
VERDICT: Somewhat True. Yorkshire puddings baked on a hot tin are slightly better shaped and higher. Nevertheless, not preheating the tin does not result in a disastrous outcome.
Theory #3: Let the Batter Rest for at Least 30 Minutes
The result of testing this theory is more than obvious. Resting your batter is therefore the secret of making a great Yorkshire pudding. Rested batter comes out much tastier and taller. The interior texture is also different as rested batter results in stretchy textures. The large bubbles are perfect for maintaining the drippings and gravy.
VERDICT: True. I highly suggest not just 30 minutes of rest. Let your batter rest at least overnight for the best results.
Theory #4: More Eggs = Richer Puds
My testing of this theory leads to a conclusion that the more egg yolks I add to the puddings, the tenderer, richer, and more custardy they become. On the other hand, if I add more whites, they puff taller and crispier. Make sure your ration of liquid and flour is identical.
VERDICT: True. But let me tell you, you don’t necessarily want a much richer pudding.
Theory #5: Water Makes Crisper Puddings
In my recipe, I add water while maintaining the equal ratio of liquid to flour. More water in the mixture resulted in puffier and crispier puddings. I personally added milk with water though for a tender texture.
Theory #6: Beef Drippings are the Best for Yorkshire Pudding
I discovered that the right beef fat not only affects the flavor but the texture of the pudding as well. Highly saturated fat makes the pudding crispier, so avoid neutral vegetable oil. I suggest using clarified butter if you want puddings without the roast.
Theory #7: Keep the Oven Close while Baking
There are lots of notions that if you open the oven while baking, the puddings will not puff or burn down or spontaneously combust. I baked two batches of pudding and followed the theory for one batch. I never experienced the alleged misfortunes when opening the oven while baking.
VERDICT: Absolutely False.