Toad in the Hole, the most popular and traditional of childhood English dishes, is nothing more than sausages cooked inside of a Yorkshire Pudding batter (batter similar to American popovers). Having not lived in England for a while now, I don’t know if its popularity has waned or not, but back in the day, it was a popular presence on many tables for evening tea.
The origin of the funny name is a matter of discussion, but traditionally refers to the sausages resembling toad or frogs peeking out (I personally don’t see that at all, but that’s me). Food history claims that it wasn’t always sausages that were cooked in the batter but any kind of leftover meat. I’m thinking that all the leftover meat started ending up in delicious shepherds pies and cottage pies and they started using bangers to add to Yorkshire pudding batter. The the best part of the Toad in the Hole is the Yorkshire pudding and I would find plenty of excuses to make it as often as possible.
To top it all off, I never ate this in England as a child. It wasn’t made at my home and it wasn’t a restaurant staple, and even if it was, I couldn’t eat it. Indian cuisine isn’t much for sausages and the like, though we do have dried kebabs and meats. So, growing up there wasn’t much in the terms of bangers and mash, or toad in the hole or even sausage rolls (not to mention most of these were pork based which we don’t eat).
Here’s the wonderful thing about growing up and having your own kitchen, you can cook what you want! All the things I couldn’t have as a child but was so curious about and yearned to try, I have remade with substitutions for my children and in the process, satisfied every one of my cravings.
The reason I chose to share this is because I didn’t post any Halloween recipes. As a child, Halloween wasn’t a common holiday in England and so I never participated. I was an adult when I moved to America so still, it wasn’t a holiday that interested me. As a mother, I just didn’t encourage the whole Halloween thing and my children have never taken part in anything Halloweeny. That’s a decision we made as parents, and I have my own ideas but I won’t get on my soap box today!
There was no Halloween in the UK back then but it seems to be thriving today. What we did have; Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night which commemorates the unsuccessful attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the buildings of the House of Commons on November 5th, 1605.
So, come November 5th, I would insist we go to the bonfires held in parks or open air fields filled with the smell of roasting chestnuts and smelly, grilled onions, hamburgers and sausages. We would watch the fireworks, warm our bodies by the bonfires and twirl sparklers. It was just a fun night for children and adults alike, although my father would probably beg to differ.
Every now and then, a friend would throw a party and then it was even more fun. One of my teachers used to have an annual bonfire party which was a most coveted invitation. Since his daughter was a friend, I had that most important of invites. The highlight of the party was always the fireworks which were made by my chemistry teacher; they were quite impressive. All in all, it was a great boost for the confidence of many, young teenage girls to be invited to this party thrown by a teacher and to hob nob with other teachers ( I’d like to add, this was a private school in England and not the norm!)
So, back to this Toad in the Hole, it’s perfect for a Bonfire Night party or even just an everyday dinner at home. I’ve always wanted to have a Bonfire Party for my children, but there is always something else going on and for years now I’ve been lamenting to my husband about having a bonfire and party with lots of appropriate party food. One day.
Until then, I just make this for dinner and we sit around our fire place.
- 8 sausages/hot dogs (I used uncured hot dogs)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or other herb of choice
- 3 tablespoons oil, use less if sausages are fatty
- 1½ cups milk, organic
- 6 eggs, organic
- 1½ cups/225g all purpose/plain flour
- 1 large onion, chopped or sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose/plain flour
- 4 cups/1L chicken or beef stock
- Place all the ingredients for the batter in the order listed into a blender.
- Whisk until completely blended and smooth.
- Can whisk by hand if needed.
- You can make the batter ahead and let it sit in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 425℉/220℃.
- In a 9x13 roasting tin, place the sausages and the oil, toss round to coat all the sausages.
- Place in the oven to brown.
- Once the sausages have browned, carefully pull out the tin from the oven.
- Pour the Yorkshire pudding batter all over the sausages.
- The batter will begin to puff up.
- Sprinkle the thyme leaves all over.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the batter is puffed up and golden.
- Make sure the batter is cooked all the way through in the middle also.
- Check by inserting a knife; should come out clean.
- To make the onion gravy, caramelise onions in the butter.
- When they are golden, add the flour and cook a little.
- Pour in the chicken or beef stock and whisk until smooth and thickened.
Enjoy this with its traditional accompaniments of mash potatoes, a green vegetable and onion gravy.
Are there any foods you weren’t allowed or couldn’t eat as a child that you have reinvented in your own kitchens today?
Hope your weekend is going great!!