I first heard about toad-in-the-hole from my beautiful cousin, Daisy. She’s a stylish Londoner with an incredible, vibrant London life which she embraces and enjoys fully. I love seeing the pictures of all of her glamorous goings-on on Facebook, and truly admire her obvious joie-de-vie.
She moved to Vancouver for a year a few years back when I was living there. We’d never met before, and as a weird coincidence, and unbeknownst to either of us at first, she ended up living in an apartment less than two blocks from where I lived in downtown Vancouver’s West End. I’m forever grateful for that odd coincidence of proximity as we quickly became really close, and have remained so ever since.
When she told me about this dish I was, obviously, quite taken with the name. I tried to, and it was an utter disaster. It was more of an oven baked, greasy pancake with vegetarian sausages embedded in it. She tried the following week, and hers was much more glorious.
I didn’t repeat my attempts at making toad-in-the-hole until a couple of years ago when I came across it again in a magazine here in Shetland. To my delight, I figured out the trick (get the oil very, very hot before adding the batter, and then don’t open the oven door until you’re pretty confident that it’s done) and it’s been a firm favourite in our house ever since.
Usually at Thanksgiving I’ll do turkey or chicken or something for the boys, and some kind of veg-alternative frozen thing for myself. But this year I was once again faced with a recipe for toad-in-the-hole, except this one, from BBC’s Good Food magazine, suggested using mushrooms in place of sausage. What a lovely idea! Perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, and something that the boys could enjoy as a side too.
I wanted to see what would happen if I used spelt flour instead of plain, but as it’s quite heavy, I decided to add some tapioca flour to the mix, which lightens up baked stuff using alternative flours.
The results are really nice. Spelt Yorkshire pudding flavoured with fresh sage and filled with slices of portabello mushrooms. It even rose surprisingly well, just like “proper” Yorkshire pudding.
I did feel though that in calling it “Mushroom-in-the-hole” the magazine had lacked a tiny bit in imagination. So here, for your Thanksgiving enjoyment (or just a delicious dinner), and dedicated to Daisy is Toadstool-in-the-hole.
- 2 portabello mushrooms, sliced
- 50mL coconut oil, plus a tsp for cooking the mushrooms
- 125g whole spelt flour
- 25g tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch)
- 300mL milk of your choosing
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 7 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
- Heat the tsp of oil in a frying pan over medium-hot heat. Place the mushrooms in it, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt, and let them fry for about 5 minutes on one side and then flip them over and repeat on the other side. They should become golden brown, have released most of their water, and have shrunk quite a bit in size.
- Meanwhile pour the remaining oil into an oven proof dish and place it in the oven to heat up for about 20 minutes.
- To make the batter, measure the flours together into a large bowl and stir to combine well. Make a well in the middle.
- Beat together the eggs and milk and then pour it slowly into the well in the flour, whisking the whole time, until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the sage.
- Carefully remove the dish from the oven and working quickly, pour the batter into it, and then scatter the mushrooms over the top. Replace the dish in the oven as quickly as you can.
- Leave it to bake for 30 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door before this as this could cause the Yorkshire pudding to go flat.
- After the half hour check the pudding. It should be well risen and golden brown on top.
- Remove from the oven and serve as soon as you can, preferably with gravy. The pudding will sink a bit once it’s out of the oven, but should keep its height around the edges and be a bit crispy there.