Today, my cookbook Dinner is released in stores across the UK! Marking this memorable day with a memorable English dish with a memorable name – the infamous toad in the hole. Sausage + giant Yorkshire pudding + gravy. You know it’s going to be good!
🇬🇧🇮🇪 Dinner released in the UK & Ireland TODAY!! 🇮🇪🇬🇧
Today is a very special day. My cookbook Dinner hits stores across the UK and Ireland – SO EXCITING!! For those who pre-ordered, my book will be delivered straight to your door – how good is that!?
I wanted to do a special recipe to mark the day. Not just a recipe from the cookbook – too obvious. 🙂 Instead, I’m sharing a brand new British classic recipe. So now you’ve got 130 recipes in the cookbook to make – plus this toad in the hole recipe! Because we can never have enough good recipes, right? 😇
➤ Cookbook release in other countries: US/Canada 28th March 2023, more countries – stay tuned! More information here.
Excitement evidence in this short home movie – my infamous daggy happy dance. 😂 (PS My usual “official” recipe how-to video is above the recipe card, as always!)
PS Trust me on the mayo! It’s a restaurant secret, brought into my kitchen via the English Chef at my food bank, RecipeTin Meals. I was dubious too, but it really works. Makes Yorkshire pudding more stable – rises more, crispier, deflates far less.
We love hilarious British food names
Toad in the hole, bangers and mash, spotted dick. Be warned – if you intend to google any of these, be sure to add the word “recipe” to your search. I don’t want to be the cause of corrupting your innocence!! 😱😂
Today, it’s toad in the hole
Toad in the hole is a traditional British dish comprised of sausages baked into a giant Yorkshire pudding, typically served with an onion gravy. Yorkshire pudding is similar to popovers in the US and Dutch baby pancakes. Think – puffy edges with crispy ridges and soft insides that taste like savoury crepes.
Normally Yorkshire puddings are made in muffin tins for individual servings alongside roasts. But with toad in a hole, it’s a giant one that you tear into. Look at that cavity made for filling with gravy. YES! These are the food moments I live for!
(PS Bangers and mash = sausages and mash. Spotted dick = dessert pudding studded with raisins ie the spots. It is not in the shape of a log!👼🏻)
Why it’s called “toad in the hole”
Rumour has it that this dish is called “toad in the hole” because the sausages nestled among the crispy/puffy yorkshire pudding resembles toads peeking out of a hole.
I’m not sure I see that. Maybe without my contact lenses, or perhaps after a few wines, my imagination might stretch that far.
But that’s ok! We can just giggle at the name and enjoy the awesome eating experience that is toad in a hole!!
Toad in the hole in the US
In the US, toad in the hole refers to a breakfast dish where an egg is cooked in a round hole cut out of sandwich bread. This recipe I’m sharing today is the English dish, and it’s typically served as a meal. Though, add a fried egg and I’d happily have this for breakfast!
What you need
Pork sausages are traditional though you can really use any type of sausages you want – beef, chicken, flavoured, etc. And yes, we are going to pan-fry them lightly before popping in the oven because then we have sausage drippings to make our gravy = tastier gravy!
Couple of tips on choosing sausages:
Size – We don’t want the sausages that are too large else there is not enough Yorkshire pudding surface area. Look for sausages around 85g/3oz each – nice size to cook 8 sausages in total, 2 sausages per serving. If yours are much larger, consider using less.
Better sausages – Look for sausages where you can see “specks” of meat/fat chunks in them (more real meat) rather than the really economical ones that are a smooth uniform pink colour (more fillers).
Toad in the hole batter
The batter used for toad in the hole is actually a Yorkshire pudding batter. Here’s what you need to make it (and yes, I explain the mayonnaise – trust me!):
Mayonnaise – Just 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise gives the notoriously fragile Yorkshire pudding stability so they puff up more and deflate less. It really works! It’s a neat trick taught to me by my English chef (Stephen Fixter) at RecipeTin Meals, my food bank. He was taught this when he worked in pubs and restaurants back in the UK.
Sounds like a blasphemy to destroy a traditional recipe with mayonnaise of all things, but I tried it with and without and can confirm unequivocally that it definitely makes the Yorkies more stable.
Beef drippings – This is beef fat, the traditional fat used for Yorkshire puddings and toad in a hole. It has a higher smoke point than most oils so is ideal to heat in the oven until smoking hot so when cold batter is poured in, it sizzles and the shock of the heat/cold makes the Yorkshire pudding puff up more.
Plus, it has better flavour than plain oil. Not beefy, but a nice savoury flavour unlike oil which is tasteless!
Where to find it – Sold in tubs, firm like butter, in the fridge alongside butter in large grocery stores in Australia (Coles, Woolies). Scoop then melt to use.
Substitutions / alternatives Duck fat and goose fat would make an excellent substitute with a similar high smoke point and similar “clean” flavoured fat. Lard (pork fat) will also work great but will give the yorkies subtle pork flavour (whereas beef, duck and goose have more neutral flavour).
Oil options – Use vegetable or canola oil for baking and searing sausages, and butter for the gravy (for flavour). Don’t use butter for the sausage searing or in the hot pan, it will burn.
Eggs – A little unusual perhaps, but I’m going to ask you to measure out 250ml / 1 cup of eggs which might be 4 or maybe 5, or even 6 eggs. Why? Because for Yorkshire puddings, being accurate with the quantity of batter really matters to a successful outcome.
If only all those selfish chickens would lay eggs that are exactly the same size, always, then we wouldn’t have to measure our eggs!
Flour and milk – Just ordinary flour and ordinary (cow) milk. I haven’t tried this with non-cow milk.
Toad in the hole is traditionally served with onion gravy. Starting with sautéed onion goes a long way to make the gravy tastier when you don’t have a pan of roast meat drippings or a homemade beef stock!
Beef drippings or butter – Beef drippings will give your gravy the best flavour but butter makes a fine substitute.
Beef stock – Use low sodium, else your gravy may end up too salty. (PS If you want to make a royalty-worthy toad in the hole, make your gravy with homemade beef stock. You’ll need to add a bit more salt as homemade beef stock is not salted.)
Flour – to thicken the gravy.
Onion – just regular brown / yellow onions. Red onions also works just fine.
Garlic – for flavour base.
Worcestershire sauce – not pictured, sorry! 🙂 Adds a touch of extra savoury flavour. But it’s not critical if you don’t have it, I only use 1/2 teaspoon. Much more and I find it starts to taste too Worcestershire sauce-y.
OK, ingredients covered. Onto making it!!
How to make toad in the hole
It’s actually very straight forward to make. The secret for a great toad in the hole lies more in the method of how it’s made and obviously having the BEST Yorkshire pudding batter (thank you Chef Stephen!).
The toad in the hole part
Many recipes opt to shortcut the method and bake the sausages from raw. While this works, it means you miss out on the sausage drippings left in the frying pan which is then used to make the gravy. Which means the gravy is not as tasty.
Moral to the story? It’s worth the extra 4 minutes to brown the sausages on the stove.
Batter first – Make the Yorkshire pudding batter first. All the ingredients are just whisked up in one bowl using a hand whisk. Nice and easy. Then refrigerate until required. The cold batter hitting the hot fat in the pan helps the Yorkshire pudding puff up.
Drippings in pan – Put the beef drippings in a 23 x 33cm pan (9 x 13″). Beef drippings are scoop-able like butter so scoop (measure) and plonk into the pan.
Heat drippings until hot, for 15 minutes, while you prepare the gravy ingredients and brown the sausages. As noted above, we want our cold batter to hit hot drippings for impressive Yorkshire pudding puff-age!
Brown sausages on the stove in a pan that we will make the gravy in afterwards. Brown them all over but keep them raw inside as they will cook more in the oven.
PRO TIP: Try to keep one side of the sausage just lightly browned, and we will make this side face up in the oven so when it comes out, it will be perfectly browned. If you brown the sausages too aggressively on the stove, the sausages may be on the wrong side of “well browned” after baking in the oven. Not a deal breaker, just a tip!
Sausages in pan – Working quickly (to reduce heat loss) remove the hot pan from the oven then place the sausages in. Arrange them so the walls are kept clear else they may inhibit the batter from puffing up around the sides of the pan.
Pour batter into the pan. It should be about 1/3 of the way up the sausages.
Bake 25 minutes in a hot 220°C/425°F (200°C fan) oven. Do not open the oven for the first 20 minutes else it may collapse!
Puffed perfection! Your toad in the hole should be impressively puffed and golden around the edges, plus some puff-age between the sausages in the centre of the pan.
Be prepared for deflation! It WILL deflate. However, thanks to that dab of mayonnaise you used, it will deflate much less than usual recipes!
The onion gravy
Make your gravy while the toad in the hole is in the oven (25 minutes). The gravy takes around 10 minutes from start to finish so just keep it warm until ready to serve.
Sauté onion in beef drippings (or butter) for 8 minutes or until deep golden brown. This is key not only to flavour but also to help make your gravy a deep brown colour rather than disappointing pale, so don’t be tempted to shortcut this step!
In the last 30 seconds or so, add the garlic and cook until golden.
Mix flour into the onion and stir for 1 minute. Mix well so it’s evenly dispersed throughout the onion – this will make your gravy lump free!
Beef stock – Slowly pour the stock in while stirring constantly. Marvel how your gravy is lump-free! Stir in Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until it thickens into a gravy consistency. Don’t forget that gravy always thickens slightly when you take it off the stove so don’t let it get too thick while on the stove. If it gets too thick, just loosen it up with a touch of water.
Then keep warm until ready to serve!
Serving toad in the hole
To serve toad in the hole, cut it using a small knife then use a spatula to pick it up and transfer onto plates.
Then – douse with gravy. Lots of it. Especially if you’ve got greens on the side. Because vegetables become so much more interesting when drowning in gravy, right??!!
That’s a serious plate of comfort food, right there.
You know, I shouldn’t tell you this, but sometimes when I’m testing recipes, I start to lose steam towards the end. I find myself extra grateful to have a team who can help out with testing things over and over again. Like the Mini Pavlovas. That was particularly painful to finalise. There’s only so much pav a girl can eat!
But toad in a hole? Let’s just say I was perfectly happy making this repeatedly. It’s me on a plate. Pure comfort food. That combination of the crispy edges of the Yorkshire pudding with the soft insides, the juicy golden brown sausages, all doused with gravy (DOUSED, my friends!).
Aggggh. Such good food! – Nagi x
PS Serve this with a side of peas or other steamed greens (broccoli, broccolini, carrots). You don’t need to get creative because you’ve got stacks of gravy for dousing. (Word of the day).
Watch how to make it
Toad in the hole
- 700g/1.4lb pork sausages, or other sausage (8 x 85g/3oz, Note 1)
- 10g / 2 tsp beef drippings OR canola/veg oil (Note 4)
Yorkshire pudding Batter:
- 250 ml / 1 cup eggs , lightly whisked (4-5 large eggs, yes, I need you to measure! Note 2)
- 1 cup plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 3/4 cup milk , full fat
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise , full-fat (secret ingredient! See Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp cooking salt (kosher salt)
- Pinch white pepper
- 50g (1/4 cup) beef drippings OR canola/veg oil (Note 4)
- 30g / 2 tbsp beef drippings OR unsalted butter (Note 4)
- 2 onions , halved, cut into 7 mm / 1/4″ wedges
- 1 garlic clove , finely minced
- 3 tbsp plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- 2 cups beef stock (broth) , low sodium
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cooking salt (kosher salt)
- Batter – Whisk eggs in a bowl, then whisk in flour until lump free. Whisk in water, milk, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Place in the fridge until required.
- Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F (200°C fan). Put the 1/4 cup beef drippings in a 23 x 33cm metal pan (9 x 13"). Place in the oven for 15 minutes to melt and become very hot.
- Brown sausages – Heat the 2 tsp (10g) of drippings in a pan over medium high heat. Brown the sausages all over, but keep one side just lightly browned (this side will brown more in the oven). Keep them raw inside. Remove onto a plate.
- Assemble – Take batter out of fridge and whisk. Working quickly, take the hot pan out of oven. Spread sausages in the pan, lightly browned side up, keeping clear of the pan walls (Note 5 for arranging tip). Pour the batter in around the sausages.
- Bake – Bake 25 minutes on the top shelf until the sides puff up and is golden brown. The top of the edges should be nice and crispy!
- Serve immediately with onion gravy! Expect some deflation – though far less than typical recipes thanks to the mayo.
Onion gravy (Note 6):
- Brown onion – Add beef drippings into the pan used for browning the sausages. Melt over high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, until nicely browned (~5 minutes). Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add flour and stir for 1 minute so it's well mixed through the onions (= lump-free gravy!).
- Add stock – Slowly pour in beef stock, stirring as you go. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
- Thicken – Bring to a simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes until thickens into a gravy. Keep warm until ready to use!
Life of Dozer
The best cookbook-making-sidekick a girl could ever ask for. Thank you for being there every step of the way, Dozer!