Wine tasting at home: How to learn the art of wine tasting from your sofa

There’s more to wine than the initial taste. In a few simple steps, you will be able to spot subtle differences between wines. Aldi reveals how to master wine tasting at home.

Smell

You don’t really wine taste, you actually wine smell, says Aldi’s wine experts.

Swirling the wine around in the glass enables you to do this much more effectively so it’s a crucial step in assessing wine.

Aroma plus taste equals flavour.

Go with the grape

With the wealth of wines now available, it can sometimes be overwhelming when picking wines.

If you don’t know where to start, start with the grape variety. This is the best indication as to what a wine will taste like.

Wines are all made from different grape varieties that subtly taste of different things and create wines with different structures too. For example, medium-bodied.

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Do your research

A little bit of knowledge can go a long way. Swotting up on different wines from across the globe and the grape varieties available in certain countries will make a huge difference.

Old World wines (from Europe) are usually labelled by region and not grape variety.

Chablis for example is a place in France, where the wines are made from Chardonnay and Rioja is in Spain, where the majority of wines are red and made predominantly from the Tempranillo grape.

When buying wines from the Old World therefore it really pays to learn what grape varieties are grown where.

So, if you know you like Sauvignon Blanc, then a Sancerre could be a good choice and if you’re a fan of Chianti wines then Sangiovese could be the grape for you.

Match the food to the wine

When it comes to food and wine matching, the two key things to remember are to match the weight of the wine to the weight of the dish.

Light seafood works well with light whites but a big steak would benefit from a big red wine.

It’s always useful to bear in mind the saying ‘what grows together goes together’.

For example, Italian wine tends to work really well with Italian food!

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Chill out

It’s not always wrong to chill red wine! As a rule of thumb however, only chill light-bodied wines.

Cooling fruity red wines accentuates the tannins (the drying sensation you can get from red wines in the mouth) and slightly mutes the fruit so if you have a light red, it can handle some chilling.

To put this to the test, try a bottle of Aldi’s Vignobles Roussellet Pinot Noir

Decanting

Got a decanter handy? That’s a plus.

Most red wines will benefit from a bit of air so decanting wine not only helps you look like a pro but allows the wine to ‘breathe’ so you can more easily enjoy those all-important aromas.

Storage

The way you store your wine is important, too.

If stoppered with a cork, wine should always be laid horizontally once bought so that the it doesn’t dry out.

However, sparkling wines and corks closed under screw cap can be kept upright.

Out and about

When you are in a restaurant and you are brought the wine to taste, the purpose is for you to check that the wine is ‘clean’.

It’s your job to ensure there are no obvious faults in the wine (such as the wine being corked) and you are happy to take it.

Again, if you swirl the wine here before tasting it, it will look impressive!

A corked wine does not mean there are bits of cork in it from a carelessly opened bottle, it is when there is a mouldy, slightly woody, earthy smell to the wine that has come from a tainted cork.

So if a wine smells musty, it could well be corked!

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Carrot cake recipe: How to make carrot cake

Carrot cake was a staple during the Second World War, when sugar was rationed to 230g per week. Carrots were switched in to sweeten cakes and biscuits without sugar. Today, carrot cake is eaten at Easter, on birthdays, and pretty much all year round. Express.co.uk talks you through BBC Good Food’s carrot cake recipe.

If you have decided to make a carrot cake as a lighter option, you might want to think again.

Carrots are vegetables, but the cake is still packed with naughty ingredients.

This recipe is worth around 265 calories per slice, but it is dairy-free and you can pop slices in the freezer to avoid eating it all in one go.

This recipe makes 15 slices and takes up to an hour and 15 minutes to make, including 40 to 45 minutes of baking in the oven.

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Ingredients

For the cake

  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 140g grated carrot (about 3 medium)
  • 100g raisins
  • grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated will give you the best flavour)

For the frosting

  • 175g icing sugar
  • 1½-2 tbsp orange juice

Other recipes add a pinch of ground cinnamon and around 200g of soft cheese to thicken up the frosting.

You could also add some walnuts for decoration.

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Method

Step one

Heat the oven to 180C/fan160C/gas 4.

Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

Step two

Tip 175g light muscovado sugar, 175ml sunflower oil and 3 large beaten eggs into a big mixing bowl.

Step three

Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in 140g grated carrots, 100g raisins and grated zest of 1 large orange.

Step four

Sift 175g self-raising flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and ½ tsp grated nutmeg into the bowl.

Mix everything together, the mixture will be soft and almost runny.

Step five

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 mins or until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre.

Step six

Cool in the tin for 5 mins, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. (You can freeze the cake at this point if you want to serve it at a later date.)

Step seven

Beat 175g icing sugar and 1½ – 2 tbsp orange juice in a small bowl until smooth – you want the icing about as runny as single cream.
Step eight

Put the cake on a serving plate and boldly drizzle the icing back and forth in diagonal lines over the top, letting it drip down the sides.

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BBQ planned this bank holiday? 3 upgrades you need to absolutely nail a summer barbecue

The second bank holiday weekend this month promises to be a record-breaker – the hottest long weekend of the year so far. With pretty tough lockdown restrictions still in place for millions of Britons across the UK, taking to the garden to light-up a barbecue promises to be an extremely popular option for those looking to escape their four walls.

If you’re looking for the ultimate barbecue with the family, friends – or whoever is in your household, we’ve got a few gadget upgrades to make sure you’ve got the ultimate set-up for the bank holiday weekend. So, read on and find out exactly what you need.

Best BBQ For Your May Bank Holiday Barbecue Grilling

If you’re looking for the ultimate upgrade your May bank holiday barbecue, Weber’s new SmokeFire grill could be just the ticket. At an eye-watering £1,199, this cutting edge cooking kit means you’ll never serve guests burnt sausages again, thanks to its dizzying array of sensors.

All of this means you can let the microchips handle the steaks, while you sort the oven chips

These clever sensors feed into the Weber Connect smartphone app, which will offer wannabe chefs step-by-step meal preparation guides – and can even calculate when your food will be ready based on what you’re grilling for the family. All of this means you can let the microchips handle the steaks, while you sort the oven chips.

And best of all, if you’re perfectly happy with the barbecue you’ve already got in your garage, then it’s possible to add the clever sensors to your current set-up thanks to the £109 standalone Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub. This means you’ll be able to fire-up the same smartphone app and benefit from the same cooking guides and military-precision ETAs for your bangers without replacing the entire BBQ.

Best BBQ App To Make Sure Your Bank Holiday Barbecue Is A Success

There are plenty of apps to furnish you with recipes for side dishes to make your barbecue a success, but let’s be honest, the most important part of any bank holiday BBQ is the weather. So, that’s why we’re recommending Dark Sky.

This is easily our favourite weather app. In fact, it’s so brilliant Apple recently bought the entire operation, enabling it to pick the brains behind the successful app to boost its own weather app, which is preinstalled on all iPhone and iPads worldwide.

Dark Sky is the gold standard of weather apps. In fact, it’s so reliable that dozens of other hugely-successful weather apps are fuelled by meteorological data provided by Dark Sky. Loading up the app, which is available on iPhone and Android (although Apple plans to shut down the latter in the next month or so), presents a detailed timeline of the next 24-hours which tells you exactly what to expect.

You can choose to switch between a detailed breakdown of the temperature, the probability of precipitation, the wind speed in MPH, humidity levels, UV index, cloud coverage, and pressure. There’s also a countdown to sunset and a “feels like” index that tries to give a little more detail to the raw numbers – so, if there’s going to be high humidity and plenty of cloud cover (statistics that you might not dig into otherwise) Dark Sky will let you know if that’s going to make it feel much, much warmer than the basic temperature would suggest.

There’s also a seven-day forecast and a satellite map like you’d expect to see in the background of the TV weather report.

BBQ chefs with an Apple Watch will be able to get weather alerts to their wrist – letting them know about incoming rain, temperature alerts, or anything else that could impact your grilling. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the clouds (and the rain), you need to be using Dark Sky.

Best BBQ Gadgets To Make Sure Your Bank Holiday Barbecue Rocks

There’s plenty of gadgets out there to make a standard barbecue feel like a proper summer party. But let’s be honest, if you’re only going to pick one – you need a speaker. Whether it’s a good true crime podcast to keep the chef company while they’re grilling before everyone else heads out into the garden, or a sparkly summer playlist to get the party started as the lunch is served.

If you’re looking for a solid Bluetooth speaker, you can’t go wrong with anything in the Ultimate Ears range. These are drop-off and water resistant, so you don’t need to tip-toe around them – worrying about spilling drinks or knocking them off the table when telling a particularly enthusiastic anecdote. The UE Boom 3 is probably the best balance of volume, compact size and price.

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However, if you’ve already got a home cinema system, or multi-room connected set-up powered by Sonos, you might want to take a look at the US company’s recent Bluetooth option, the Sonos Move. This speaker can be docked to become part of your connected home – so you can play music throughout the house, or separate each room with its own radio station, podcast, or playlist. And when you’re ready to head out into the garden, it can pair with any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet, ready to blast tunes to add some extra flavour to proceedings.

And of course, kickstarting a Google Meet, WhatsApp or Zoom video call with friends and family who can’t physically join you can be a great way to boost numbers for your bank holiday feast. Enjoy.

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Scone recipe: Can you make scones with plain flour?

The success of a scone doesn’t just rest on taste, but also on the height of the scone. Successful scones should be tall and easily cut in half horizontally, then topped with your desired topping.

Do you need self-raising flour for scones?

The simple answer is, because height is such an important factor in scones, sacrificing self-raising flour for plain flour means you’ll need to up the amount of another raising agent.

Various famous chefs and bakers use different methods to attain tall scones.

Delia Smith relies on self-raising flour, whereas baking stalwart Paul Hollywood insists on replacing the raising element with baking powder.

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Here are two recipes for scones, using plain and self raising flour.

Plain Flour – Paul Hollywood

  • 500g/1lb 1oz strong white flour, plus a little extra for rolling out
  • 80g/3oz softened butter, plus a little extra to grease the baking tray
  • 80g/3oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml/8½fl oz milk
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten with a little salt (for glazing)

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan assisted)/425F/Gas 7.

Lightly grease a baking tray with butter and line it with baking or silicone paper (not greaseproof).

Put 450g/15½oz of the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingers to create a breadcrumb-like mixture.

Add the sugar, eggs and baking powder and use a wooden spoon to turn the mixture gently. Make sure you mix all the way down to the bottom and incorporate all of the ingredients.

Now add half of the milk and keep turning the mixture gently with the spoon to combine. Then add the remaining milk a little at a time and bring everything together to form a very soft, wet dough. (You may not need to add all of the milk.)

Sprinkle most of the remaining flour onto a clean work surface. Tip the soft dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the rest of the flour on top. The mixture will be wet and sticky.

Use your hands to fold the dough in half, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. By folding and turning the mixture in this way (called ‘chaffing’), you incorporate the last of the flour and add air. Do this a few times until you’ve formed a smooth dough. If the mixture becomes too sticky use some extra flour to coat the mixture or your hands to make it more manageable. Be careful not to overwork your dough.

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Next roll the dough out: sprinkle flour onto the work surface and the top of the dough, then use the rolling pin to roll up from the middle and then down from the middle. Turn the dough by 90 degrees and continue to roll until it’s about 2.5cm/1in thick. ‘Relax’ the dough slightly by lifting the edges and allowing the dough to drop back onto the work surface.

Using a pastry cutter, stamp out rounds from the pastry and place them onto the baking tray. Dip the edge of the pastry cutter in flour to make it easier to cut out the scones without them sticking. Don’t twist the cutter – just press firmly, then lift it up and push the dough out.

Once you’ve cut 4 or 5 rounds you can re-work and re-roll the dough to make it easier to cut out the remaining rounds. Any leftover dough can be worked and rolled again, but the resulting scones won’t be as fluffy.

Place the scones on the baking tray and leave them to rest for a few minutes to let the baking powder work. Then use a pastry brush (or your finger if you don’t have a brush) to glaze them with the beaten egg and salt mixture. Be careful to keep the glaze on the top of the scones. (If it runs down the sides it will stop them rising evenly.)

Bake the scones in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the scones are risen and golden-brown.

Leave the scones to cool, then split in half and add butter, jam and clotted cream to serve.

Self raising flour – Delia Smith

40g spreadable butter
225g self raising flour
A pinch of salt
110ml of milk
One and a half tablespoons of golden caster sugar

Method
Begin by rubbing the butter into the sieved flour quickly, using your fingertips, then stir in the sugar followed by a pinch of salt.

Now, using a knife, mix in the milk little by little, and when it’s all in, flour your hands and knead the mixture to a soft dough (you may find you need just a drop more milk if it feels at all dry).

Place the dough on a floured pastry board and with a rolling pin (also floured) lightly roll it out to a thickness of about 3cm. This thickness is vital. The reason scones don’t rise enough is because they are rolled too thin.

Then take the pastry cutter and tap it sharply so that it goes straight through the dough – do not twist or the scones will turn out a strange shape!

When you have cut as many as you can, knead the remaining dough together again and repeat. Then place the scones on the baking sheet, dust each one with flour and bake near the top of the oven for 12–15 minutes.

When they’re done they will have risen and turned a golden brown. Then transfer them to a wire rack and eat as soon as they are cool enough, spread with butter, jam and clotted cream.

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Pret takeaway: Which Pret shops reopened for delivery? How to get Pret to your home

Pret a Manger is a coffee and food chain which has more than 500 outlets across Britain. A number of locations close to hospitals have reopened their doors in order to provide food and drink to frontline NHS workers as well as offer takeaway and delivery. But which Pret shops have reopened for delivery and how can you get Pret delivered to your home?

All non-essential shops were closed last month.

Only a small list of retailers were left open, including supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with Government guidance.

The Government guidance reads: “Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational and can be a new activity supported by the new permitted development right.

“This covers the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises.”

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Which Pret a Manger cafes are open?

Pret a Manger has opened ten stores across the UK to help with NHS staff.

The shops which are reopening include:

  • Fulham Road, Fulham, London
  • Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London
  • St George’s University Hospital, London
  • Circus Road, St John’s Wood, London
  • Kings Road, London
  • City Road, London
  • Great Portland Street, London
  • St George’s Wharf, Vauxhall, London
  • Warren Street, London
  • Tooting Broadway, London.

All of these outlets will be open from 8am to 2pm everyday for takeaway only.

Customers visiting these outlets are not permitted to sit inside the cafe.

Only a limited menu will be available including sandwiches, salads and baguettes, but these shops will also have essentials such as milk, butter and tea.

All staff members working in these Pret outlets have volunteered to work to provide assistance to customers, particularly NHS workers, amid these uncertain times.

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All Pret workers will be paid 100 percent of the salary, whether they have volunteered or not.

Protective Perspex screens have been fitted to tills to separate customers and workers.

Only card payments will be permitted to reduce the risk of spread through cash.

Only a maximum of six customers will be allowed in the shops and cafes at any one time to ensure the two-metre social distancing is maintained.

Additionally, all contact surfaces will have a strict 30-minute sanitising schedule, with movement in the kitchens minimised as far as possible.

How to get Pret delivered to your home?

Delivery is now available through Just Eat so more people can enjoy Pret’s food without leaving their home for a fee of just £3.

The partnership has initially launched in London and will continue to roll out to further sites across the country in the coming months.

Delivery is available during the opening hours listed above and will include breakfast and lunch items, as well as coffee, fresh baguettes and a Produce Box, including fruit, vegetables and herbs.

You can see which restaurants are delivering in your area enter your postcode on the Just Eat app or visit online here.

Andrew Kenny, Just Eat UK managing director, said: “We are delighted to be working with Pret to deliver their incredibly popular dishes.

“Pret is a workday staple and being able to enjoy your go-to lunch direct to your door is something many will be excited about, especially after working from home for the last few weeks.

“Since lockdown began, our data has shown a shift in the nation’s eating habits. We’re eating earlier, with families coming together for lunch, and we’re craving items that are more difficult to get in supermarkets.

“Through our partnership with Pret, and a wide range of other high street restaurants that are now available for delivery again on Just Eat, we hope to continue offering the widest choice of the food you love – be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

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Greggs sausage rolls: How to make your own Greggs at home

Greggs announced the closure of their stores on Tuesday, March 24, in line with the Government’s coronavirus lockdown measures. This has lead to many missing their pastry fix from the famous bakers – one of the main items missed is Greggs famous sausage roll.

Now some have taken to creating their own pastry goodness at home, with pictures across social media of budding bakers creations.

Express.co.uk has found two recipes, one for sausage rolls and another for sausage, bean and cheese melt from Greggs themselves.

Your kitchen will smell like a bakery in no time with these two easy recipes.

If you want to have a go at creating your own Greggs style sausage roll at home, below is a recipe you can follow!

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Greggs Style Sausage Roll by Flava-It – adding instant Flava to every day.

Ingredients:

  • Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
  • 350g Pork Sausage Meat (or cheap pork sausages with the skins removed)
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 1 Sachet Garlic & Herb Flava-it Seasoning

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C (200C in a fan oven)/Gas mark 7.

2. Unroll the puff pastry sheet and cut in half lengthways. Brush each half with the beaten egg to within 1cm of the bottom of the long side.

3. Mix the sausage meat with 1 sachet of Flava-It Garlic & Herb to season (optional)

4. Divide the sausage meat mixture in half, place down the centre of each length of pastry in a sausage shape, leaving a 3cm border along one long-edge of each sheet, then brush just the border with beaten egg. Bring the top pastry edge over the filling press together to stick to the eggy border. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

5. Cut each sausage roll into 4 even lengths and make 3 cuts across the top surface of each roll with a knife. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make another 4 sausage rolls.

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6. Place on a baking tray, brush all over with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Greggs has also shared themselves how to make their famous sausage, bean and cheese melt.

In a Facebook post, the bakers told customers to try a GIY or Greggs It Yourself and detailed how to make the tasty pastry.

Greggs wrote on Facebook: “If you’re craving a Sausage, Bean and Cheese Melt right now, we sadly can’t bake it for you, but here’s how to #GreggsItYourself.”

To make a sausage, bean and cheese melt you’ll need

  • Beans
  • Sausages
  • Cheese
  • Puff Pastry
  • An egg

Method

1. Cut two squares of pastry and egg wash the edges

2. Squash your beans, chop up your sausages and place them both on top of one of the pastry squares. Sprinkle cheese over the top – you can make it as cheesy as you want.

3. Place the second pastry square over the top of the first, and use a fork to press down the edges firmly.

4. Egg wash the entire thing and then place in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C, or until the pastry is golden brown and piping hot.

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How to make chocolate cake WITHOUT eggs

Eggs, flour, pasta and canned goods have all been coming up short as shoppers take the long-life items home in case of emergencies. Luckily, a chocolate cake recipe from Jamie Oliver does the trick. The recipe was featured on Channel 4’s Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry on this week.

You don’t need any eggs to make it – handy for when you can’t buy any.

The recipe feeds 12 people and takes half-an-hour to cook.

Serve it with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of cream or custard to get the full experience.

For added flavour, you could try adding in dried fruits, nuts or sweet bits like fudge or chocolate.

Jamie Oliver’s Eggless Chocolate Cake 

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The recipe calls for these ingredients:

• 200g soft unsalted butter – plus extra for greasing

• 200g hazelnuts – feel free to swap this to any other nut, almonds, pecans and brazil nuts work too

• 200g quality dark chocolate

• 200g self-raising flour

• 200ml semi-skimmed milk

• 200g golden caster sugar

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Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C

  2. Break up the nuts inside a food processor

  3. Break up the chocolate and then add that into the food processor as well

  4. Add butter, flour, sugar, milk and a pinch of sea salt

  5. Get some grease-proof paper and line a deep baking tin with it.

  6. Pile the cake batter into the tin and smooth it out with a spatula

  7. Place the tray into the centre of the oven for 18 minutes.

Keep Cooking and Carry On airs weekdays at 5.30pm on Channel 4.

Jamie shares all his recipes from each episode on his website. 

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Yorkshire pudding recipe: How to make Yorkshire puddings

The common British side dish Yorkshire pudding is a versatile food that can be served in numerous ways. That makes it perfect for the current situation the UK is in, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposing a nation-wide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Yorkshire puddings are made from batter consisting of eggs, flour, milk and water.

Originally, it was served as a first course with thick gravy to dull the appetite with the low-cost ingredients so diners would not eat so much of the more expensive meat in the next course.

However, today it can be served not just as a first course, but as part of the main course.

The Yorkshire pudding has become a regular part of the traditional Sunday roast, but also works with easier meals such as bangers and mash.

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When wheat flour began to come into common use for making cakes and puddings in the north of England, cooks devised a means of making use of the fat that dropped into the dripping pan to cook a batter pudding while the meat roasted.

In 1737, a recipe for “a dripping pudding” was published in the book The Whole Duty of a Woman.

The recipe read: “Make a good batter as for pancakes; put in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little then put the pan and butter under a shoulder of mutton, instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savoury, and fit to take up when your mutton is enough; then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.”

The Royal Society of Chemistry suggested in 2008 that “A Yorkshire pudding isn’t a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall”.

How to make Yorkshire puddings

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Ingredients

  • 140g plain flour (this is about 200ml/7fl oz)
  • 4 eggs (200ml/7fl oz)
  • 200ml milk
  • sunflower oil for cooking

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Method

Yorkshire pudding is cooked by pouring a batter made from milk, flour and eggs into preheated and oiled baking pans, ramekins or muffin tins in the case of miniature puddings.

A basic formula uses ​1⁄3 cup flour and ​1⁄3 cup liquid per egg.

Water produces a lighter, crisper, but less sweet pudding than using milk.

They can also be baked in the oven in muffin tins.

Step 1: Heat oven to 230C/fan 210C/gas 8

Step 2: Drizzle a little sunflower oil evenly into two 4-hole Yorkshire pudding tins or two 12-hole non-stick muffin tins and place in the oven to heat through.

Step 3: To make the batter, tip 140g plain flour into a bowl and beat in 4 eggs until smooth.

Step 4: Gradually add 200ml milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Pour the batter into a jug, then remove the hot tins from the oven. Carefully and evenly pour the batter into the holes.

Step 6: Place the tins back in the oven and leave undisturbed for 20-25 mins until the puddings have puffed up and browned.

Step 7: Serve immediately.

Can you freeze Yorkshire puddings?

You can freeze Yorkshire puddings for up to one month.

Once they come out of the oven, allow them to cool completely on a wire rack then pop them into a container or a tightly sealed freezer bag.

To cook from frozen heat oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7, place the frozen puddings on a baking sheet and cook for six to eight minutes until hot and crisp.

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