My Irish 'Mum' does this beautifully and with a subtle grace she managed for years to keep her recipe from me, with the excuse that she does not use a scale when cooking. I managed however to drag up the secret recipe she has been using all along, and, my beloved readers, here it is for your delight.
Yorkshire pudding, for the uninitiated, is an English accompanying dish made from batter, which “was originally cooked in a tin under the rotating spit on which roast beef was cooking – the juices from the meat dripped on to it, giving a delicious flavour. In Yorkshire, it is still cooked around the meat tin and is traditionally served as a first course, filled with gravy, before the meat and vegetables” [source: www.yorkshirevisitor.com].
It's the ideal accompaniment for a 'Sunday roast' dinner, typically with a juicy roast beef and tasty gravy. A variation is the so-called 'toad in the hole', i.e. a dish made of sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter. [I especially like the definition of a badly made toad in the hole reported on Wikipedia: 'frog in the bog'].
There are two secrets to it: the batter must be very light and the roast tin on which you pour it must be very hot and greasy. The shape is sometimes rectangular (you then cut it into pieces before serving) or you may want to make individual puddings, small and round (use a bun or muffin tray).
What you need (for 6-8 people):
6 ounces (= 170 gr) plain flour
1 pint (0.5 lt) of liquid (3/4 milk, ¼ water)
¼ teaspoon salt
How you make it:
Sift flour and salt through a sieve into a mixing bowl. Separate the eggs, drop the yolks into the flour and mix well (careful: you should avoid having lumps!). Pour in half of the cold mixture of milk and water and beat well until frothy. Stir in the remainder of the milk-water mix.
Leave the mixture to rest for one to two hours. Beat the egg whites until stiff and delicately fold into the mixture.
Preheat the oven to 450F (210-220°C), oil a deep bun tray, ladle the mixture into the holes and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the pudding raises and takes on a rich golden colour. Actually, your oven should already be well hot while you roast your beef: if the meat is not yet ready, move the beef to the lower rack and cook the pudding on the top shelf.
Franita's variant: serve as a starter with Parma ham and wild rocket – very continental!