Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Heat the fat and quickly sear the beef on all sides to seal in the juices. Put into a roasting pan with the dripping or oil, and sprinkle the herbs and black pepper over the meat. Put into the hot oven and cook for half an hour. As soon as the meat is in the oven, make the batter.
Sift the flour and salt, and make a well in the middle. Add the beaten egg and half the milk, and beat for about 5 minutes to form a smooth paste. Add the remaining milk and beat for a further 5 minutes (3 minutes will do with an electric beater). Leave uncovered in a cool place until required.
After the meat has cooked for half an hour, lower the heat to 190°C/375°F/ gas mark 5. Baste, then continue to cook for a total roasting time of 16 minutes to the pound (450g) for rare beef, 20 minutes for medium, or longer for well done.
Half an hour before the end of the beef roasting time, cook the batter. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the hot beef dripping from the roasting pan into a fairly shallow tin about 18cm (7in) square. Add a few drops of cold water to the cold batter and beat it for a moment, then pour the batter into the fat – it should sizzle as it goes in. Put the tin at the very top of the hot oven for about 30 minutes.
When the beef is done, remove from the oven, put onto a warmed serving dish and keep warm. Scrape down the sides of the roasting pan and add the cider, beef stock or red wine over heat. Stir well, season and boil up quickly to reduce.
Serve very hot with the roast beef and batter pudding, which should be served as soon as it has risen or, like a soufflé, it will fall.