5

At the weekend I made Toad in the Hole. I put some sausages in a glass dish in the oven at about 180 centigrade. Then I followed my usual batter recipe which is:

  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

When the sausages had started to brown, I took them out, greased the hot dish with more vegetable oil, poured the batter in and arranged the sausages neatly therein.

It looked to cook nicely. However, when I removed the dish from the oven the batter rapidly lost shape. It collapsed into a thick, chewy crust. Not inedible by any means, but not the nice fluffy result I've had before. It also stuck quite badly to the dish, even though I'd greased it.

There were three notable things I did differently to normal. Firstly, I normally make this in a cold dish, not a pre-heated one. Second, I mixed the batter with hand-held electric food processor rather than fork. Third, I was using a different brand of sausages that turned out to be greasier than I was expecting.

Could any of those things have caused my batter to collapse? If not, what did I do wrong?

7

Good Yorkshire pudding is not an art, it's a science. You need three things:

  • Hot fat
  • A hot oven
  • Batter of the right consistency

The only raising agent in Yorkshire Pudding is steam from the water in the liquid ingredients. You need to convert that water into steam fast to get a good rise, and you need the batter to crisp up quickly so it doesn't collapse.

This is why you need hot fat and a hot oven. I would say 180C is much too low: use 220C*. Preheating the dish is a good idea - use a good, thick, metal pan, preheated along with the oven. Then place that on the hob and fry the sausages in it, then add the batter. Then it's straight in the oven. This ensures as little heat as possible is lost . Do not open the oven during cooking if you can possibly help it. The sudden drop in temperature and the shock of the door closing will destroy the structure.

Adding cold oil to the pan is, as you can imagine, a bad idea. Instead, fry your sausages with enough oil to rise the batter with (if you're worried about the fat, you shouldn't be eating Toad in the Hole anyway) and it will get good and hot while you fry the bangers. If it doesn't sizzle when you pour the batter in, you might as well throw it out.

Batter consistency is the hardest thing to get right. Too thin and there won't be enough gluten to provide structure. Too thick and it will collapse under its own weight. About the consistency of double cream is right, but experience is the only real teacher. I usually whisk my batter with a balloon whisk, leave it to sit for a couple of hours, then give it a good whisk before adding to the pan.

*Oven dials lie. Get an oven thermometer to see how much. My last oven was 30 degrees cooler than it said on the dial.

  • 1
    Agree on all points. The only thing I do differently is that I cook the sausages in the oven rather than the stovetop. – Cindy Sep 8 '14 at 14:24
  • Yup, that's equally good. In fact it's often easier because you get a nice even cook without having to turn the sausages as much. – ElendilTheTall Sep 8 '14 at 15:30
  • Just for a third way, we lightly brown the skins in the pan, and then cook them in the "hole". We then use the sausage pan to make onion gravy. – Oli Sep 9 '14 at 12:17
  • I believe the Toad in the Hole Act 1843 stipulates all TitH must be served with onion gravy on pain of death, so that is a wise move. It's still enforced in some of the more remote Dales, too. – ElendilTheTall Sep 9 '14 at 12:23

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