I've followed Nigella's Toad in the hole recipe twice and both times it's risen beautifully but the batter has ended up being more like a savoury cake - being perfectly flat across the top and maintaining that flatness even after it had a chance to cool. What should it be like and what might I be doing wrong?! The proportions were 4 eggs to 350ml milk and 250g flour.... in a stoneware dish approx 20x30cm.
The batter in a toad in the hole should rise up but will be airy and crisp rather than spongy or cakey.The flour should be plain (all-purpose) flour and not self-raising.However it is most likely that the batter isn't quite cooking properly due to the dish. Stoneware tends to heat up very slowly and doesn't give the instant hit of heat that the batter needs to help it to rise properly.
In Nigella's recipes she tends to use a metal roasting pan and heats this on the hob before adding the batter. You should not heat the stoneware dish directly on the hob as there is a risk it will crack, however you could try putting the dish with a little oil in it in the oven when you turn it on and then letting them heat up with the oven. Add the browned sausages and the batter and return to the oven immediately. The batter should bubble slightly at the edges when it goes into the dish, this is an indication that the dish is hot enough.