Chris's Yorkshire Yummies

Yorkshire Recipes

Curd Tart, Oatcakes, Dumpling, Parkin, Yorkshire Pudding

Chris Yorkshire has many fine traditional foods, and David's family has been collecting recipes for these over several generations. It's fun (but fattening!) trying out all the different recipes for each dish or cake, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of them.


The good old favourite parkin is a rather filling ginger cake made with oatmeal and treacle. It is ideal fodder in the 'parky' weather November brings and is traditionally eaten on Bonfire Night - if you still have room for it after the roasted potatoes and pea soup. (I have yet to meet a Yorkshireman who doesn't have room for a bit of parkin!)

Going through the old family recipe books, I came across no less than 34 different recipes for parkin, some dating back well into the nineteenth century and possibly earlier. Most of the recipes are quite similar but some are unusual, containing such ingredients as chopped nuts and even beer! I have to admit to trying out only a few of these but here they all are, anyway:
33 Parkin Recipes

Microwave Parkin
Some of the parkin recipes are eggless, so I've adapted them as Vegan recipes:
12 Vegan Parkin Recipes

Oatcakes (Haverbread)

Oatcakes have been a traditional food in Yorkshire for many centuries, dating back at least to the time of the Norse settlement. The common name for them throughout many parts of Yorkshire - haverbread, havercakes or tharve-cakes - comes from the old Norse word for oats, hafre, which also gave us the haversack, a satchel for carrying oats. Other names for oatcakes stem from some of the ways they are made: clapbread is made by clapping, or beating, dough into the correct shape with the hands; riddle cakes are made from batter which is shaped on a riddle and should not be confused with griddle cakes which are any sort of flat bread or cake baked on a griddle.

Traditionally, the dough or batter used for oatcakes was made in a wooden kneading trough, the knade-kit, but a modern glass mixing bowl is quite adequate. Oatcakes were usually baked on a backstone. This was made of mudstone, a type of stone which splits into smooth, flat layers. When properly prepared, it is resistant to burning, warping and fracturing, and can be placed directly on an open fire or in the oven. The modern equivalent, a descendant of the backstone, is the griddle, and if you don't have a griddle, then a large, flat-bottomed cast-iron frying pan, or skillet, will serve almost as well.

The dough method of making oatcakes is a simple process. The dough may be divided into pieces and flattened with the hands (clapbread) or it can be rolled out and cut into circles, squares or triangles. This type of oatcake is often baked in the oven rather than on a griddle or backstone.
4 Oatcake (Haverbread) Recipes Using Dough
The traditional method of making oatcakes (riddle cakes) is to use a dropping batter. It can be a complicated process but results in lighter cakes. The batter is dropped on to the riddle - or on to a wooden board known as a backboard - which is covered with a layer of fine or medium oatmeal, and shaken to spread it to the correct thickness. It is then slid off the riddle onto a board covered in muslin to prevent them sticking. When several are ready, they are slid off or flipped (depending on how daring you are) onto the hot backstone. A pastry board coated with oatmeal and a large spatula should suffice today for experimenting with this traditional method of preparation. The recipes I have are less adventurous and go for the simpler method of dropping the batter directly onto the griddle.
4 Oatcake (Haverbread) Recipes Using Batter
Oatcakes can be eaten hot from the griddle, with or without butter, but they were traditionally left to cool when they become dry and crisp. They are usually eaten buttered and go well with either a savoury or a sweet topping. Try toasting them, either plain or covered with a mixture of egg and grated cheese. If your arteries are still soft enough, they do fry very nicely with a thick rasher of fatty bacon, a couple of eggs and a slice or two of black pudding.

Oaty Dumplings

If you like your oats, try this oaty dumpling recipe:
4 oz white S. R. flour
2 oz wholemeal flour
2 oz porridge oats
3 1/2 oz of shredded suet (or shredded vegetable suet)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
cold water to mix

mix dry ingredients in a bowl
add water sparingly, using a tablespoon, and mix to a stiff dough
separate into 8 pieces, roll into balls and dust with flour

  Cooking time:
add to stew 20 minutes before end of cooking time.

Yorkshire Pudding

Believe me, there is no secret to making a successful Yorkshire Pudding. The only requirement is that you were born in Yorkshire. So, while David's puddings rise with the lightness of cumulus clouds, mine just sulk in the bottom of the tin and go black at one corner.

What restaurants serve, along with roast beef, is "Not Yorkshire Pudding." Yorkshire Pudding is plate-sized and served on its own before the meat. In spring, it is liberally coated in mint sauce. For the rest of the year, it is smothered in thick gravy.

Sieve 6 ozs finest plain flour together with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Break in one large egg and add a splosh of milk. Mix to a smooth paste, then add milk a little at a time, stirring with increasing vigour as the mixture becomes thinner. Continue this process until you're frantically beating at the batter to stop it escaping and it's thin enough to run off the spoon, leaving it clean. Set it aside while you prepare the main course and collapse with a well-earned Floydian glass of wine.

Pre-heat the oven at mark 7 or 8 until the ambient temperature in the kitchen exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a knob of fat - beef dripping or, for vegetarians, solid vegetable fat - into a 7 by 9 inch Yorkshire Pudding tin and warm in the oven until the fat begins to smoke. While the tin is warming, add 2 tablespoons of cold water to the batter, beating gently. The next stage should ideally take no more than four seconds: Whip the tin out of the oven, tip in the batter, give it a quick swirl and back into the oven with it. Turn the oven down to mark 6. Now go out of the kitchen and have a 20 minute sherry.

Curd Tarts (Yorkshire Cheesecake)

Yorkshiremen might be noted for their fussiness about Yorkshire Puddings but, believe me, that's nothing to the perfection they demand in their curd tarts - although any less than perfect tarts seem to disappear just as quickly!

Traditionally a food of the sheep-shearing season and Whitsuntide, curd tarts are ideal for picnics throughout the summer and for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon snack, tea and supper at any time of year.

Curds can sometimes be bought ready made, or substitutes, such as curd cheese, cottage cheese or fromage frais used instead. None of these will give you the "Real Yorkshire Curd Tart" and if you try it, you might just as well buy your train ticket out of the County at the same time. Fortunately, curds are quite easy to make.
Making Curds
The standard curd tart is about 7 - 8 inches diameter, and the 'snack' size about 4 inches, but if you ask the vicar to tea, you might want to make them even smaller.
10 Traditional Curd Tart Recipes

2 Small Curd Tart Recipes
Here are a couple of variations using curd cheese which generally produces a cheesier flavoured tart.
2 Curd Cheese Tart Recipes
Finally, here are 8 recipes for anyone who doesn't like the taste or texture of anything cheesy but fancies this sort of tart.
4 Mock Curd Tart Recipes

4 Small Mock Curd Tart Recipes

More to come later!

Ink Amera

(C) Chris 31/8/2007