It is not necessary to buy a Yorkshire-pudding tin to make an authentic Yorkshire pudding.
What you actually need is a 30cm by 20cm rectangular tray, the kind now sold as tray-bake tins for things such as Mary Berry’s millionaire’s shortbread or lemon-drizzle squares.
The true Yorkshire pudding, says Peter Brears, “is always made in a rectangular dripping tin and cut into squares just before it reaches the plate”.
Brears is the author of Traditional Food in Yorkshire (Prospect Books) – less a cookbook (though it does include recipes) than a brilliant social history of how they ate in Yorkshire in the 19th century.
The perfect pudding, according to Brears, has a high crisp rim and a “deeply rippled centre”.
The round puddings that are now deemed the classic version were originally called “Yorkshire puffs” and were a way to save on oven space, as cooks dropped spoonfuls of batter into the hot fat around the roasting meat.
Quite why batter pudding – which was made in various forms all over Britain – should be so closely associated with Yorkshire isn’t clear. The first written recipe is by Hannah Glasse in 1747, who seasoned the batter with grated nutmeg and ginger and cooked it under a joint of “beef, mutton or a loin of veal” as it spit-roasted before the fire.
Yorkshire pudding remains one of the glories of a Sunday lunch: crispy outside and custardy inside.
It’s one of the few dishes – soufflé being another – that elicits a gasp when it arrives at the table.
Authentic or not, I like to make them in a muffin tin (three eggs, 120g flour, 300ml milk and a pinch of salt for 15 minutes in a hot oven), preheated with oil for maximum puff.
Some serve the pudding as a sweet course, with golden syrup and cream, but I see the battery crevices as the perfect vehicle for meaty juices.
Traditionally, the pudding and gravy were served as a first course, like pasta, with the meat and vegetables to follow.
A roast dinner that includes Yorkshires as well as roast potatoes is a double-carbohydrate feast.