If you’ve been exposed to British culture, either through personal experience or the media, you may know that a popular English side dish is the Yorkshire pudding. Traditionally served with meat and gravy, this crisp and airy pudding has been a staple in England for centuries.
My personal fascination with British cooking shows has always left me curious of this little side dish, so I thought, “what better time to try it than my blog post on English-Canadians?”
The following recipe is from The New Galt Cook Book, a recipe book popular in English Canada and published in 1898. When examining the cook book, it’s clear that the women who compiled the recipes, Margaret Taylor and Frances McNaught, were heavily influenced by their British heritage. A majority of the recipes in this book are very traditional British favourites, including “shepherd’s pie”, “toad in the hole”, and, the recipe I chose to attempt, “Yorkshire pudding”.
Four large tablespoonfuls of flour, one pint of milk, two eggs, a little salt;
Put the flour into a basin with the salt, and stir gradually to enough of the milk to make a smooth batter without lumps, add the rest of the milk and the eggs well beaten.
Bake in a shallow tin, under meat if preferred.Mrs. Richard Jaffray
One thing that I noticed as soon as I started reading through this cookbook was that the recipes were closer to a modern Western cookbook than the Traditional Indian Recipes From Fort George, Quebec had been. The exact measurements and somewhat detailed descriptions for preparation definitely reflected the European heritage of English Canadians. Although the lack of fundamental elements, such as the temperature of the oven and the cook time still places it far off from the recipes that we have today.
I followed the recipe from Mrs. Jaffray almost exactly (I may have forgotten to beat the eggs before adding them to the batter), but everything was going well… until it came time to bake.
When looking at the recipe, there were a few issues that concerned me: it did not include a temperature, cook time, or any indication of when they would be done! I know that this was most likely due to the fact that the recipe was created in the time of wood-burning stoves, but me and my electric oven were worried.
I looked up a few reference recipes to give me an idea of what to do. The conclusion I came to was that Yorkshire puddings need a fairly high temperature, a moderate cook time, and crispy brown tops. With this information, I should have been ready to bake, but I hesitated…
I’ve watched enough episodes of “The Great British Bake-off” to know that putting Yorkshire pudding batter directly into a cold, unoiled pan was a recipe for disaster. Advised by Gordon Ramsay himself (or at least his recipe for Yorkshire puddings), I heated 1 teaspoon of oil in each section of the muffin tin before putting my batter in and cooking the puddings.
This may have been the most nervous I’ve ever been when baking. I sat in front of the oven for the entire time they were cooking thinking, “Will they rise? Will they fall? Will they leak everywhere and destroy my oven?”
To my amazement, they did rise, and brown, and do everything a good Yorkshire pudding is supposed to do! When I took them out of the oven after about 20 minutes at 425F, they were beautiful little golden puffs with squidgy middles.
Although they’re traditionally supposed to be eaten with meat and gravy, I decided to put my own spin on them. I took a sweet approach to the traditionally savoury food by dressing the puddings up as if they were pancakes. I popped some blueberries into the hollow middles, put syrup on top and voila!
I had some leftovers the next morning, so I put a pudding into the toaster and used it as a “biscuit” for an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, which was equally as delicious.
Overall, this recreation of The New Galt Cookbook‘s Yorkshire puddings was a success!
Using the archived recipe’s ingredients and directions, here is what I did:
Four large tablespoonfuls of flour
One pint (2 cups) of milk
Two eggs (Beaten)
A little salt
Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
Put the flour and salt into a medium sized mixing bowl. Gradually stir in enough of the milk to make a smooth batter without lumps, then add the rest of the milk and the beaten eggs.
Put 1 teaspoon of the oil into each section of a muffin tin and put into the oven on the top shelf until the oil is very hot.
Take the tin from the oven and immediately fill each section half way (the oil will sizzle as you do this) and quickly put the tin back into the oven.
Cook for 20 minutes or until the tops are medium/dark brown. Do not open the oven door during the cooking or the puddings may fall.
Eat while warm!
This recipe makes just shy of a dozen for me, but you could probably stretch the batter to make a full dozen.
With the plurality of cultures apparent in present-day Canada, it’s hard to imagine still being so intwined with the British lifestyle. However, the English-Canadians of 1898 were still extremely loyal to king and country. The fact that this was a new edition of the original Galt Cookbook, with 40 subsections, and over 700 recipes contributed by different women speaks to the prominence of English-Canadian culture in numbers alone. The inclusion of traditionally British recipes in the cookbook, such as Yorkshire puddings, shows the influence that English culture had on Canadians of this heritage.
Not only the inclusion of the recipe alone, but the lack of directions included in the recipe could further the notion that English food was still a prominent part of their daily lives. If there were no directions for the actual baking of this recipe, it could be presumed that the women attempting it were already familiar with Yorkshire puddings and their cooking process, most likely from their own experience with the side dish.
The New Galt Cookbook is available online on the Library and Archives Canada website as part of the exhibit “Bon appétit! A Celebration of Canadian Cookbooks:”: https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/cuisine/027006-119.02-e.php