Recipe

2 Jan
Yorkshire Pudding Christmas Day 2021

Anyone can buy frozen Yorkshire puddings from the supermarket, but nothing compares to a huge, fluffy, homemade special.

It was one of my father’s favourite treats as a boy.

To make a good Yorkshire pudding you need a few simple ingredients not excluding patience, courage and timing.

Ingredients:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • Goose fat/beef dripping/or, less reliably vegetable oil

The trick is to make the batter a few hours before and let it stand. Then, get the oven to maximum heat (above 240 degrees C if possible), then place a roasting pan or skillet in the top of the oven, and when the fat is smoking, without opening the oven door too much – pour the batter into the pan. Close the door and wait a good 25 min for it to cook.

DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR BEFOREHAND, or like a soufflé, your pudding will collapse.

My father’s golden memories of childhood, were coloured by his experience of rationing during the Second World War as a teenager. Despite his family being poor, his mum, Annie would make it on a Sunday to feed her five children as well as she could on a few eggs, milk and flour: David (Dad) the youngest, brother Peter, sisters Olga, Brenda and Nancy were brought up by Annie and Arthur in a modest 2 bedroom terrace in Huddersfield.

My parents met in Lagos in the mid 1950’s, at the time my father was helping Nigeria to independence by teaching building methods and carpentry to the sons of Nigeria. My mother flew long hall with KLM as an air hostess.

Adriana Van de Poll ne Littlewood, Mam, on her wedding day

Throughout the honeymoon period of their marriage, Mam tried and tried to make Yorkshire Pudding for Dad, but she could never crack the secret. So, in the end, Dad took her home to his sister Brenda to learn the ropes. By this time, I had been born in Kano, sub-Saharan Nigeria.

Henk 1958, my father’s humour.
Dad and me in Huddersfield September 1959

In 1959 Aunty Brenda taught Mam to make the most magnificent, fluffy Yorkshire Puddings. My dad was finally impressed.

It was to become a treat for my brother and I when we moved to England to live, after my parents separated in 1964. As a single mum and a student teacher, mam’s budget was tight. This poor man’s food was always fit for princes in her opinion, especially served on its own with gravy.

At the end of her life, my mother revealed one last and the most important ingredient to me in her remaining years as she declined with vascular dementia: She started calling me David, my father’s name, as we talked together in the care home.

It was as if she was young again and talking to her new husband. In those quiet exchanges I finally realised how much she had adored him.

Throughout my teenage years she had tried to convince me of the very opposite.

Thus, Yorkshire Pudding has an almost mythical status in my mind. It represents a time when my mother loved my father, and a time when my mother forged a new life for my brother and I.

More importantly it underpins the truth of my existence.

Imagine, then, my delight when my sister in law made this beauty for Christmas Dinner. A fitting tribute to all of our amazing parents who have since passed away.

We may experience loss and disappointment in Life, but Love raises us up, and transforms our humble ingredients into something great, with patience, courage and timing.

HL 2.2.22

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