Well, it’s been almost a year since we entered this pandemic! What a year it has been!!!! With so many of our formerly favorite activities now restricted, what kinds of things have you found to fill the time? Have you developed any new hobbies? Tackled any new projects? Found yourself trying something you never thought you’d attempt before?
Like so many others, I found myself staying at home a lot more than before the pandemic. Obviously reading and writing could carry on just as before :-). I finished Margaret of Milton and started on my current work in progress, Elizabeth and the Fleur de Lys. But other favorite activities took a hit. For a time we had to take karate via Zoom (can you imagine???) and we still attend church online every week. Movie theaters are out and the mall isn’t much fun. Let’s not even talk about hanging out with friends. 🙁
But all this time at home has led to the chance to develop a skill I love: cooking!!!! Early in the pandemic I signed up for cooking classes online, and my family has been grateful! Not that I was a bad cook before, but I have finally had the chance to explore new techniques and expand my repertoire. Most of my attempts have been successful, but there have been a few epic fails along the way, too.
With that in mind, for this month’s blog entry I decided to tackle a food I’ve heard of often but never investigated: that quintessentially English dish, a food both Darcy and Elizabeth would have eaten, the Yorkshire pudding.
First of all, some background. Yorkshire pudding isn’t pudding. Apparently in England the word pudding means something rather different from what it means in the U.S. Americans hear “pudding” and think of a cooked dessert involving lots of milk. But on the other side of the pond “pudding” frequently means a pastry that can be either the main meal or a hearty side dish. Yorkshire puddings are sometimes filled with meats and served as the main course or topped with gravy to accompany a roast.
Secondly, Yorkshire puddings aren’t just eaten in northern England. They are a traditional dish throughout the country and have been on tables since at least the 1700’s. Without a doubt Jane Austen was familiar with them.
The key to Yorkshire pudding is in the cooking, not in the ingredients. To make them you just mix flour, milk and eggs.
But then you heat up a muffin tin with a generous amount of fat in the bottom of each cup. When the oil is smoking hot (literally!), you quickly pour the batter into each cup and then put it back in the oven. And then you hold your breath. This is the critical moment. If you’re lucky, the hot oil will puff the batter up as it cooks and you’ll end up with something like a popover. But if you’re not lucky, you’ll end up with something like this:
These puffed up just fine in the oven but fell as soon as I took them out. My cousin, who is a professional baker, said that most likely the puddings needed a little more baking time. Honestly I don’t think it made much difference. Yorkshire puddings must be an acquired taste, for to me they were surprisingly salty and not particularly appealing. Perhaps, like Darcy, I just need to practice!
If you want to try making this authentically English dish for yourself, here’s a recipe. Please let me know if your experiment turns out better than mine did! And let me know what hobbies you have taken on over the past year!