yorkshire pudding - technique advice
Yorkshire pud is one of my favourite week-night suppers, since I always have flour,eggs and milk on hand, and it is both a protein and a carb. I usually use Jane Grigson's/Nigella Lawson's recipe, in which you add the dry to the wet ingredients, and not the other way around. To paraphrase:
Beat 1 egg with 80ml milk. Leave it to stand for 15 min. Whisk in 90ml sifted flour, and a dash of salt. Preheat a generously oiled dish in a 230C/450F oven for 10 min. Add batter, and cook for 20 min.
This is good, but not spectacular.
I don't understand why some yorkshire pudding recipes specify an hour's rest for the batter, versus 15 min. Why this recipe says not to overstir, but Gordon Ramsay's (too eggy for my tastes) says to beat it well for five minutes. What is the actual science behind a yorkshire pudding? Can anyone explain it to me? What makes it rise, and what overbeating does to it?
Additionally, does anyone have the perfect recipe, or special ingredients which they add? Thanks!
Beating will develop a lot of gluten and can make the yorkshire puddng or for that matter crepes tough. That is why the recipes frequently require that the batter rests for awhile.
I don't know the answers to all your questions, but I will tell you that the recipe below makes *wonderful* Yorkshire Puddings. (You MUST use rendered fat though for truly good flavor.)
I actually prefer to cook my puddings in a muffin pan. They did not come out nearly as well when I used my popover pan (for some reason).
As I understand it, Yorkshire pudding rises because when you put it into a hot (or cold getting hot--I don't even want to get into that debate) oven the air that you've beaten into the eggs expands and lifts the batter up. You can beat the eggs as long as you care to, but once you add the flour you should stir just enough to mix the wet and dry together, with maybe a few lumps still in evidence. This is because beating the batter once the flour has been incorporated will develop the gluten in the flour, making it tough, and making it harder for the the rising properties of the eggs to raise the whole batter.
It's the same thing as a popover, only larger. Also very similar to making profiteroles, eclairs, or gougeres with a pate a choux.
All the recipes I've used and seen tell you to allow the finished batter to rest, i.e., after the flour is incorporated. It doesn't make sense to me to just let the eggs and milk rest, then use the finished batter straightaway.