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Make the batter: Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 7. Tip 210g plain flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 tsp English mustard powder with a good pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, crack in 4 eggs, then pour in a little from 400ml milk. Whisk the mixture, gradually incorporating some of the flour, until you have a smooth batter in the well. Now add a bit more milk and continue stirring until all the milk and flour has been mixed together.
The batter is ready: You should now have a smooth, lump-free batter that is the consistency of double cream. Stir in the leaves from 4 thyme sprigs, then tip the batter back into the jug you measured your milk in, for easier pouring later on. Use scissors to snip the links between 8 plain pork sausages, then drop them into a 20 x 30cm roasting tin. Add 1 tbsp sunflower oil, tossing the sausages in it to thoroughly coat the base of the tin, then roast in the oven for 15 mins.
Cook the batter: Take the hot tray from the oven, then quickly pour in the batter – it should sizzle and bubble a little when it first hits the hot fat. Put it back into the oven, then bake for 40 mins until the batter is cooked through, well risen and crisp. Check it after 40 minutes, cover loosely with foil if it is browning too much. If you poke the tip of a knife into the batter in the middle of the tray it should be set, not sticky or runny.
Make the gravy: Soften 2 sliced onions with 1 tbsp sunflower oil in a large non-stick frying pan for about 20 mins, stirring often, until they are golden brown. Sprinkle in 1 tsp soft brown sugar for the final 5 mins. Add a spoonful of plain flour, then cook, constantly stirring, for 2 mins, so it coats the onions and there is no dry flour left. Gradually pour in 500ml beef stock, stirring well to make a smooth sauce. Bubble for 4-5 mins to thicken, then season. Cut the toad-in-the-hole into large wedges and serve with the gravy spooned over.