Our recipe comes from an older edition of The Joy of Cooking, from which I learned to make this dish over four decades ago.
Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. Note that the whole process takes a couple of hours due to needed rests and temperature changes for the batter, so plan accordingly. In something this simple, ingredient freshness and quality is paramount; made with Bob’s Red Mill flour, and local eggs, milk, and fat, it’s a far superior dish to one done otherwise. You may double the recipe for a larger batch with good success.
Note that we use milk and water in even proportion. You may use milk only if you wish; that will make for a softer pudding with a somewhat less crisp skin.
1 Cup Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Water
2 large Eggs
Thoroughly combine the flour and salt in a deep, non-reactive mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and milk. Whisk briskly to combine until smooth and uniform.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs and whisk with a hand or stick blender until eggs are frothy and several times their initial volume, (you could call this a bit below a soft peak for texture).
Add eggs to the flour mix and begin blending with a hand or stick blender on relatively low speed. Blend until you get roughly 1/2″ bubbles rising through the batter, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Cover the bowl the bowl and refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes.
After the chilled rest, bring the batter out and allow it to return to room temperature. The cold rest helps the batter fully integrate the flour, and allows for better gluten formation which aids the rise. Allowing a gradual return to room temperature preserves those advantages.
Preheat your oven to 400° F and place a rack in the middle position. Place a heavy, tall baking dish in the oven as it heats. These days, I prefer a souffle pan, but a cast iron dutch oven does nicely too; chose a size that will allow your batter to be roughly 1/2″ thick when poured in.
Beat the batter again after it’s back up to temperature; 2 or 3 minutes on a low setting is sufficient.
Once the oven is up to temp, remove the baking dish and Toss 2 ounces of fat into it. Unsalted butter, beef drippings, leaf lard, and even schmaltz will all work nicely and have their own charms. Return the dish to the oven until the fat is melted and sizzling.
Pour your batter into the hot pan. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F and bake for An additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the pudding has risen nicely and is golden brown. Do not open the oven door while the pudding is cooking; quiet, hot air and steam is critical to success.