By Carol Traulsen
On my fiftieth birthday I promised myself that I would actively seek out new experiences. When you get older, you deprive yourself of valuable experiences if you spend time worrying about failure or embarrassment. I made the choice to share them here regardless of how they turn out. So welcome to my year of challenges! I’ll admit I’m starting small, but I’m a cautious personality. The idea is to do something that challenges me, something that makes me feel uncomfortable.
My first challenge is to make Yorkshire pudding. My mother made it a handful of times and I remember it seemed to be a painstaking and laborious process. I am such a student that I couldn’t just jump in- I had to do a Google search on how to make the perfect Yorkshire pudding. I read reams on how to make it perfectly and what the secrets were. The truth is I was scared to do it. What if it fell? What if it gets burned? What if it never even rises? This comes under the heading of cooking food with no room for error. Yorkshire pudding has a reputation, it’s legendary.
It’s not even a pudding. It’s more like a cross between a custard and a soufflé`. It’s served with roast beef; you use the drippings from the beef in the creation of the pudding. Yorkshire pudding is like a soufflé` in that if you aren’t careful it will fall too soon. The goal is to serve it before that happens.
The ingredient list seemed straight forward enough: eggs, flour, drippings from the pan of roast beef, salt and whole milk. Really how hard can this be? Maybe I was just psyching myself out. There were so many recipes. Each method and ingredient list varied wildly. I needed simplicity. So I settled on the recipe from the Betty Crocker Cook Book.
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
½ tsp salt
Enough shortening or drippings to equal ½ cup.
Here are some tips to remember if you choose to take on this classic:
Mix the milk and the eggs together first. Make sure the flour is lump free before you whisk it in. The batter needs to be smooth. A wire whip will do the job nicely and it’s okay if it gets frothy. I’d read that it needed to sit awhile in the refrigerator, so I left in until the meat was done. The pan you pour the batter into needs to be hot. I put my high sided casserole dish in the oven for thirty minutes. I looked at the dripping in the pan. I was in trouble. This was a lean piece of meat, not much for drippings. I added margarine and some cooking oil to the mix until I got a half cup of fatty meat flavored drippings and crossed my fingers.
Once the pan was hot I removed the batter from the fridge added the drippings and poured it into the pan. I baked for about 30-40 minutes. It will depend on your oven and the pan you’re using. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OPEN THE OVEN! I had the hardest time with this. I do have a window to look through but it was a little smeary so it was kind of hard to tell if it was baking properly. It takes a little while to rise I was so excited when I saw it begin to rise and bubble. It took everything I had to restrain myself until it was what looked like a lovely golden brown. The results are pictured here. It was huge hit. My son had extra helpings. You have to eat it all it doesn’t keep well.
What did I learn? Sometimes it’s not as hard as you think. Research will only get you so far, you have to act, and you have to try to succeed. One success can build upon another. My next culinary adventure will be a soufflé`. I’m not sure what my next non-culinary challenge will include but I’ll keep you posted. Try something different. Challenge yourself. You’re capable of more than you know.