This Sunday 7 February marks that most favourable of days – National Yorkshire Pudding Day, when we can all pay homage to this most marvellous of quintessential British traditions. Possibly one of the simplest, low costing, versatile and tasty dishes that England can claim ownership of. The Yorkshire Pudding is timelessly popular and lovingly adopted by many as their most reassuring and comforting staple for the Sunday dinner table. Indeed this has been the way for centuries.
The William Jackson Food Group, a long-standing family bakers and retailer; now in its sixth generation was founded in 1851, with the opening of their first store on the same afternoon of Jackson’s very own wedding day. So entrenched were the Jackson’s in their business, that they were affectionately known locally in Hull as Mr and Mrs. ‘Split Currant’. Jackson’s empire rose to thirteen stores by 1916 and by 1939 the business boasted eighty five stores.
The William Jackson Food Group famously supplied Butlins Holiday Camps with frozen Yorkshire Puddings and went on to develop a similar brand to retail across supermarkets nationally. That brand was Aunt Bessie’s. To celebrate their most famous product this year, Aunt Bessie’s will be baking an entire wedding cake made out of Yorkshire Puddings in honour of the day. It is hoped this unusual creation will be snapped up by a willing couple to enjoy at their own nuptials.
Somewhat more morbidly there is an interesting case in the media in Derby in 1911 whereby a sixteen year old domestic servant decided to reap her revenge on the family she was working for. Having been handed her notice for dishonesty, the girl poured poisonous belladonna (deadly nightshade) into the batter mixture of the Yorkshire Pudding she prepared as part of a meal for her master, his brother and the mistress of the house. On becoming ill they raised the alarm and the girl was arrested and subsequently sentenced to three years in Borstal. This is indeed a sign of changing times. Had this crime been committed in the century before the young girl would have either faced the death penalty or transportation overseas.
Recipes for Yorkshire Puddings have circulated since the 1700’s, with Eliza Acton’s version of ‘good’ and ‘common’ (reducing the amount of milk and eggs) puddings – seen below, appearing in her groundbreaking Modern Cookery In All It’s Branches/For Private Families of 1845. My very own baked version (complete with curious water bird shaped variety) is pictured above.
Happy Yorkshire Pudding Day and remember not to add any poisonous foliage to your batter mixes this weekend.