When is a pudding a pancake and a pancake a pudding? Let’s just put on our thinking caps to find out.
Among my grandmother Jessie’s lost recipes file, there was a recipe for Yorkshire pudding. This is one of the few recipes of Jessie’s, which I distinctly remember. My grandmother typically served this with prime rib or another beefy roast, in the classic English tradition, accompanied by overcooked mushy peas. I recall slightly sweet and buttery brown-sugar-glazed carrots on the side, too.
The reverse of the recipe card is quite funny. Jessie was on the board, I believe, of the Chicago affiliate of the National Council of Jewish Women, an organization which obviously encouraged its members to put on their thinking caps and hats, as the rather oblique invitation from the 1960s seemed to indicate: ”think” is repeatedly superimposed over a variety of stylized – and stylish – hats.
While I was unable to locate any photos of Jessie on her travel in England, I did find her with a variety of hats and caps, always thinking.
This recipe was timely, as we are in the midst of planning an upcoming trip to England and Scotland, which includes Yorkshire, so I have been putting on my thinking cap about this holiday. What is also amusing is that a “pudding”, in England, of course, is a generic term for something sweet, as in a dessert.
For the result and the Yorkshire pudding recipe….
Coincidentally, this recipe is almost the same as the German pancake which Jessie had in her files – twice – a family staple, from my childhood. I had posted about this easy pancake, in one of my earliest posts as “David Eyre’s Pancake”. The proportions are very close for the egg-milk-flour ratio, and the technique is identical (without the final sugar-and-lemon step). With powdered sugar and lemon, this variant – with my favourite, lingonberries - can serve as dessert, or,”pudding” if you will. Hence, it is a pudding which is a pancake which is a pudding – such perplexing tautology in a simple dish!!
The texture is chewy yet delicate and able to sop up savoury sauces, gravies, and juices equally well as syrups and preserves, in its sweeter pancake incarnation.
Despite Jessie’s typed version for a full and half option, with contradictory notes, I decided to attempt the half-recipe. I used the 1/3 cup milk to 1/3 cup flour to one egg, producing a result which was light, puffy, and golden, exactly as I remember Jessie’s Yorkshire pudding.
The recipe itself is very basic and simple to put together. It can be ready to go into the oven right when a roast is finished (beef, lamb, or even a pork tenderloin could all work). Or the pudding can bake while a vegetarian gratin, stew (preferably not a potato-based one), or a ratatouille is finishing in the oven or on the stove.
While I suspect it might be a bit carbohydrate-heavy to serve this with any potato dish, rice, or bread, the Yorkshire pudding goes well with simple meat and vegetables or a variety of vegetarian dishes, too, for an out-of-the-ordinary starch accompaniment. So do not think twice about what to serve as a side next time you want a quick, elegant accompaniment to a particularly juicy or saucy dish.
Yorkshire Pudding, from Jessie’s recipe file
Serves two as a side dish (can be doubled)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place oven-proof (non-stick, preferably) pan or baking dish in oven.
- After 10 minutes of pre-heating, add butter to pan or dish in oven, while making the batter.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and flour until thoroughly blended.
- Pour into pre-heated pan or dish.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.
- Serve with whatever your thinking cap tells you would go well, e.g., a juicy prime rib or leg of lamb, for carnivores, or anything saucy for those who do not eat meat – how about ratatouille topped with parmesan and a side of Yorkshire pudding? Think about it….