Tadpole In The Hole.
Yorkshire pudding batter has always been somewhat of a mystique in my family. It run the whole gamut of complexity from the perfect to the plain wrong, with so many trials and tribulations in the middle. It’s a strange concept too as you’d think that following a basic recipe will provide you with the same outcome every single time but no Yorkshire pudding mixture will ever give you such certainty. It’s a trial and error procedure, but a delicious one at that.
My grandmother had a bizarre recipe for Yorkshire pudding. I don’t actually know what the recipe is and in hindsight, maybe that was a good thing. I absolutely adored her Yorkshire pudding growing up but even now, have no idea how it came to be. It would be done in the same manner as a sponge cake, and then cut into triangular slices and had almost an eggy cakey consistency? Strange but delicious nonetheless. My mother, who has always confessed that Yorkshire puddings has been a battle of hers, makes them in the smaller, rounder, cup-shaped puddings that have more crunch than that of my grandmothers, but delicious in an entirely different way.
Either way, Yorkshire puddings are there to provide us with an Anglo satisfaction and I do often feel quite proud that the quintessential savoury cake is ours to claim. While I know they are best fitted on a roast dinner and sometimes eating a Yorkshire pudding mid-week may seem uncouth, there is something about a Toad in the Hole that just fits the bill no matter when you eat them.
I call this recipe my Tadpole in The Hole for two reason. The first being that the sausages are ripped and balled into small bitesize chunks so that you can enjoy the ratio of meat to pudding even more easily. Therefore I anointed them tadpoles, as opposed to full grown toads. Second, because it rhymed and it was funny to say. But that’s not for me to defend, I recommend this recipe because it worked for me.
There are two key aspects to remember with this technique. The first being that the batter is made in a blender as opposed to free hand, which gives a smooth consistency. Furthermore, blitzing the milk and eggs before the flour gives a much thicker churn. Smooth and thick. Perfect batter. The second component is piping hot fat. It’s a relatively quick manoeuvre from the stove but really is important so my disclaimer here is to just be very, very careful when removing pans of hot fat out and into hot ovens. Don’t go getting third degree burns for the sake of some risen batter.
Preheat the oven to 220C. In a blender, pour in 175 ml of full fat milk and two eggs before blitzing. Now add 125g of flour before blitzing again and leaving to one side.
Using your hands squeeze the meat out of a few good quality sausages until you are left with a mound of meat patty in a bowl. I used some Italian sausages that were thyme spiked but get as good as you want. Add to this a little salt and some thyme leaves. Now again, using your hands, pluck little pieces of sausage meat from the mound and roll into small balls in your palms. The best technique I know is to move one hand clockwise and the other anti, so that the meat has an even surface for frying. From two sausages you should get about six balls.
Add a small amount of flavourless oil to a muffin tin or a cake tin before transferring to the hot oven to heat up. On the stove top, add a little duck fat (or butter) to a hot frying pan and then add the balls. Keep the heat fairly high but ensure you keep tossing the balls around with a spatula to stop them catching. After about 2 minutes of frying, turn off the heat.
Very carefully remove the muffin/cake pan from the oven and carefully drop a sausage ball into each cake dip before carefully pouring in the Yorkshire batter from earlier. I will say that speed is important here but don’t work so fast that you run the risk of burning yourself. Carefully transfer the puddings back to the oven and cook for roughly 30 minutes or until the Yorkshire has risen grandly around the sausage ball.
In this time, you may want to make some sausage gravy? This is what I always do as I think a pan of meat fat should never go to waste. Make a beef stock (an OXO cube is fine) but to this add a little nutmeg and black pepper. Turn the heat on the pan of meat juices and once hot, add a tablespoon of flour and mix to form a thick paste. Pour in a tiny amount of the stock and stir so that the paste loosens a little. Once the flour has turned into a lighter brown colour, pour in the rest of the stock gradually and cook through until it creates a smooth but thick gravy consistency. The sausage fat here will be paler in colour so you may want to add the slightest drop of graving browning for aesthetic purpose. Pull out your Yorkshires once risen, pour over the gravy and you’re done!
Yorkshire puddings are there to be enjoyed, not to test your nerve. Granted, I’ve failed a few Yorkshire puddings in my time however I’ve found that once I get to grips with a recipe I’m confident with, I look forward to cooking them. I have many memories of my mother having Yorkshire pudding days where she would cook pudding after pudding after pudding until she found the template she was comfortable with before freezing them in zip lock bags.
This also another handy life saver – and that is to make them beforehand. If you know are going to be doing a dinner on a Sunday, if you have a spare hour in the week or something, make a batch of the Yorkshire pudding recipes (omitting the tadpole) and freeze them so you can just pop them in the oven alongside your roast for 20 minutes. Mastering the Yorkshire, as sad as it sounds, is quite the proud moment.
And speaking of pride, I do want to have a sappy moment here and dedicate this recipe to my mother – who has been very vocal about her triumphs and tribulations with getting her Yorkshires right! She needs to know that any successful Yorkshire I cook is only a shameful attempt at trying to recreate hers anyway!