James Martin Toad in the Hole is the ultimate winner in this classic English category. His gigantic puffy Yorkshire pudding batter with pork sausages blew us away. You have to try it yourself!
Our chef test challenge is back, and this time, we picked an all-time English classic, Toad in the Hole.
At the time of writing, the two most searched chefs in Google UK for Toad in the Hole were James Martin and Jamie Oliver. I settled with James Martin's Toad in the Hole with Onion Gravy published on the ITV website as they have a video too, and the size of the dish once cooked looked very impressive.
- What is Toad in the Hole?
- What Happened When We Tried James Martin Toad in the Hole
- ❤️ Why I like James Martin's recipe
- 📃 James Martin's Ingredients
- 📐Yield / Servings
- ⚖️ Scaling the batter
- 👩🍳 How to make James Martin Toad in the Hole
- 👍 Tips on How to Make the Best Toad in the Hole
- ⚡ What can go wrong
- James Martin's Onion Gravy
- 🍎 Nutritional Value
- What is Toad in the Hole Served with
- James Martin Toad in the Hole Summary
- Recipe Card
What is Toad in the Hole?
Toad in the Hole is an English old-school dish with a bit of an unusual name that doesn't give a clue of what to expect.
Nowadays, Toad in the Hole includes sausages baked in a Yorkshire pudding batter; the sausages stay at the bottom hiding in small craters while the batter puffs up around them.
According to Wikipedia, this type of pudding was an ideal budget dinner for large families, often using meat offcuts or offal, that became popular in the 18th century.
What Happened When We Tried James Martin Toad in the Hole
- James Martin recommends resting the egg batter in the fridge for 4 - 12 hours; not ideal for a quick last minutes supper, however in desperation, cheating is possible.
- 8 sausages are difficult to divide between 6 servings.
- The batter rises into impressive proportions.
- We're not keen on the onin gravy made with yeast extract, beef extract and Bistro.
❤️ Why I like James Martin's recipe
- You only need four simple ingredients to make Toad in the Hole (eggs, flour, milk and sausages).
- The recipe has the perfect ratio of eggs/flour/milk.
- The instructions are easy to follow.
- The batter rises into gigantic proportions.
- This meal makes a great family dinner.
📃 James Martin's Ingredients
James Martin's Yorkshire pudding ingredients:
- plain flour
- lard, dripping or oil
James Martin's Onion gravy:
- yellow onion
- butter or oil
- yeast extract
- beef extract
- Bistro gravy
- sherry vinegar
- salt and pepper
📐Yield / Servings
This recipe is supposed to make six servings. Yet, it asks for eight sausages (I don't particularly like when I can't equally divide the portions).
You can serve portions with just one sausage per person (sausages from a butcher are generally bigger than those from a supermarket), but it's good to bulk up the meal with some sides like mash and veggies to ensure the portions will satisfy.
I like to serve two sausages per person (especially if using smaller supermarket sausages). In that case, eight sausages in the recipe are only enough to make four servings.
Note: There was lots of baked batter left in the dish after we divided the eight sausages between four people. When cooking for four, I keep the number of sausages, but I reduce the amount of batter in the recipe (using only 5 eggs). That way, the sausages to batter serving feels more proportional.
⚖️ Scaling the batter
This recipe is easy to scale. These are the ratios per egg:
- 1egg / 28 g plain flour / 75 ml milk
How many eggs per person? James Martine uses 1.33 eggs per person (the number of eggs divided by the number of portions). As you can see, it's not a whole number; it's more practical to use the whole eggs, so you need to round the number up or down.
Here is my recommendation:
- 1 person 1.333 eggs - 1 - 2 eggs
- 2 people 2.666 eggs - 3 eggs
- 3 people 3.999 eggs - 4 eggs
- 4 people 5.332 eggs - 5 eggs
- 5 people 6.665 eggs - 7 eggs
- 6 people 7.998 eggs - 8 eggs
👩🍳 How to make James Martin Toad in the Hole
The recipe is super simple, and it involves only a few easy steps:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the plain flour, eggs and milk using a hand whisk.
- Rest the batter in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Insert a heatproof metal dish with a couple of tablespoons of lard or dripping in the oven while preheating to 200C; heat up until smoking hot.
- Fry sausages in a frying pan to give them a bit of colour.
- Once the lard and the oven dish are sufficiently hot, tip in the browned sausages. Give a little stir to the egg batter, and pour the liquid over the sausages. Return the dish quickly to the oven.
- Cook for approx. 60 minutes.
I made the batter in the morning just before ten and left it in the fridge for 7 hours to rest. This way, I could make James Martin's Toad in the Hole for our family dinner while allowing sufficient resting time.
I used our heavy cast iron pan as it was the closest dish to the recommended size (30cm x 20cm x 5cm deep). It has thick metal walls, so I left it preheating in the oven a bit longer than a thin metal tin.
I cooked the dish in the oven at 200C for 60 minutes following the recommendation. In the video, James Martin's Toad in the Hole has a very dark colour, so had my Toad in the Hole after 60 minutes in the oven.
Warning! Once you take the preheated oil from the oven, everything is scorching hot, be careful if you have small children. My sons were helping to prepare the batter, but I asked them to stay away from the kitchen when I was working with the hot oil.
👍 Tips on How to Make the Best Toad in the Hole
Make sure to follow these few tips for the best result:
- Use the correct egg/flour/milk ratio (James Martin's batter is perfect).
- Let the batter rest (resting helps the batter rise taller; it's possibly a tip with the most significant visual impact).
- Preheat the oil and the oven dish (helps with rising and prevents the batter from sticking to the bottom of the pan).
- Allow for enough cooking time in the oven (prevents dense, deflated batter)
Note: If you are super tight with time and you are wondering what happens if you use the egg mix straight away, I have good news. Your Toad in the Hole will still puff up, just not as high.
My last-minute Toad in the Hole was still very presentable. The family didn't even realise it wasn't as tall as it could be.
To learn more about the science behind making perfect egg batter for either Yorkshire pudding or Toad in the Hole I recommend reading an article from seriouseeats.com 'The Science of the Best Yorkshire Puddings'.
⚡ What can go wrong
There shouldn't be any flaws if you follow the instructions and implement the tips for the best Toad in the Hole listed above.
Don't be impatient and give the batter sufficient time to cook. There is lots of egg batter in the pan, if you remove it from the oven too early, the whole structure can collapse and deflate, and the texture of the batter will be dense. Wait until the batter is well risen, crisp and nicely dark golden brown.
James Martin's Onion Gravy
Toad in the Hole isn't complete without good gravy. It gives a nice boost of taste to an otherwise dry dish.
After such a monumental success with James Martin's Toad in the Hole, I was looking forward to making his onion gravy.
Unfortunately, neither Bistro gravy, yeast extract or beef extract are among our staple ingredients. We don't actually use them ever, but I bought them to test this recipe anyway.
I don't know if it's just me, but I felt that these ingredients gave the onion gravy a somewhat processed taste... or maybe I'm not used to these flavours. To be honest, it was OK, just not what I was expecting.
If you want to try James Martin's onion gravy, the instructions are as follows:
- Fry the sliced onion until golden brown (use the pan from frying sausages).
- Pour in the gravy; bring to simmer. Add the yeast extract, beef extract and vinegar, and cook for another minute.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Tip: Try our favourite Caramelised Onion Gravy instead. It asks for only 5 ingredients, it's simple to make and taste great.
🍎 Nutritional Value
The nutritional values in James Martin's Toad in the Hole are calculated by dividing the meal into 6 portions. There is 696 kcal and 47 grams of fat in each portion (including 1.33 pcs of sausages, egg batter and onion gravy).
The number of calories will vary depending on how many sausages do you serve in one portion and what side dishes you include with the meal.
What is Toad in the Hole Served with
Toad in the Hole is on its own is a dry dish, so it's good to serve it with gravy. Onion gravy is a classic choice, but you can serve Toad in the Hole with other side dishes too to make the portions bigger if needed.
Here are some ideas:
- onion gravy
- roast potatoes or mash
- garden peas or other blanched/sauteed vegetables (carrots, green beans, broccoli, cabbage)
- some even enjoy it with baked beans
James Martin Toad in the Hole Summary
I crown James Martin's Toad in the Hole no.1 recipe among other competitors. It truly works; no more Toad in the Hole that is flat and dense!
This English classic doesn't have complicated flavours, but it's a warming and satisfying meal. Its strength lies in its simplicity. The combination of pork sausages and well-risen crisp batter, accompanied by sweet and sour onion gravy, makes the magic.
We think the Yorkshire pudding batter in this recipe is unbeatable. It puffs up into gigantic proportions. That said, I always adjust this recipe to fit our family of four.
I like to reduce the amount of batter while keeping the number of sausages (8). There is way too much batter just for four servings in the original recipe.
As I already mentioned, we weren't the biggest fans of James Martin's onion gravy; I prefer to make my own onion gravy to accompany this Toad in the Hole.
Jams Martin's Toad in the Hole with Onion Gravy
- 225 g plain flour
- 8 eggs
- 600 ml milk
- 8 sausages
- 50 g lard, dripping or oil
- 1 yellow onion finely sliced
- butter or oil for frying
- 1 tsp yeast extract
- 1 tsp beef extract
- 400 ml Bistro gravy ready to pour
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Metal heat-prof dish (tin, tray) or cast iron pan about 30cm x 20cm x 5cm deep
How to make Toad in the Hole:
- Whisk: In a large mixing bowl, combine the plain flour, eggs and milk using a hand whisk.
- Rest the batter: Leave the batter rest in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Preheat the lard: Insert a heatproof metal dish with a couple of tablespoons of lard or dripping in the oven preheated to 200C; heat up until smoking hot.
- Fry sausages: Give the sausages a bit of colour by frying them in a pan.
- Pour the batter: Once the lard and the oven dish are sufficiently hot, tip in the browned sausages; give the egg batter a stir, and pour it over the sausages. Quickly return the dish to the oven.
- Bake: Leave the batter and sausages cooking in the oven for approx. 60 minutes.
How to Make Onion Gravy:
- Caramelise the onion: Fry the sliced onion; use the same pan from frying sausages.
- Add the liquid and extras: Pour in the gravy and bring to a gentle simmer. Add yeast extract, beef extract and vinegar, and cook for another minute.
- Season: Flavour with salt and pepper.