Spotted Dick

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It’s been a while since I wrote a post on a good old British steamed pudding, and this is one of my all-time favourites. Spotted Dick is a great pudding because it lies somewhere in between a suet pudding and a sponge pudding and is borne of that period of prolific pudding invention: the Victorian Era.

If British puddings are new to you, I’ve already written a couple of posts on the history of puddings (the first one here, and the second one here).

If you’ve never heard of Spotted Dick, it is a spongy steamed pudding that contains suet instead of butter. It is only slightly sweet and flavoured delicately with lemon. The spots on the Spotted Dick come from currants. You don’t want a pudding that is too sweet, the sweetness – I believe – should come from the currants and the custard that must be served with it (for a custard recipe, click here).

For some unknown and crazy reason, Spotted Dick doesn’t appear in my favourite cook book of all, English Food by Jane Grigson (to see why it’s my favourite, see my other blog).

Now for the big question: who the heck is Dick?

The pud is first mentioned in a book from the 1850s by the famous Chef Alexis Soyer called The Modern Housewife, or, Ménagère. Alexis Soyer was the first celebrity chef and he deserves a whole post just to himself! He mentions Spotted Dick in passing when listing a typical week’s meals during tougher times. This was Tuesday’s dinner:

Tuesday. – Broiled Beef and Bones, Vegetables, and Spotted Dick Pudding’

The ‘Dick’ in Spotted Dick seems to come from the shortened Old English names for pudding: puddog or puddick. In Scotland it is often called Spotted Dog Pudding.

Spotted Dick is a very simple pudding to make; it can be steamed in a basin or be rolled out like a sausage and covered in buttered foil and then steamed. Sometimes it takes the form of a roly-poly pudding with the currants and some brown sugar making the filling. Personally, I prefer to use a basin.

Anyways, here’s the recipe:

For a 2 pint pudding basin, that serves 6 to 8 people:

300g plain flour

10g baking powder

150g beef suet (fresh or packet)

75g caster sugar

100g currants

Zest 2 lemons

225-250ml milk

butter, for greasing

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, suet, sugar, currants and lemons. Add the milk, mixing slowly until all is incorporated. You’re looking for a mixture of dropping consistency.

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Liberally butter a 2 pint pudding basin and spoon in the mixture. Cover with a lid. It’s easiest to buy a plastic basin with a fitted lid. If you’re using a glass or porcelain basin, make a lid from a double sheet of pleated foil and secure with string. It is worth making a foil or string handle for the pudding so that you can get the basin out of the steamer safely.

Place in a steamer and steam for 2 hours. Make sure there’s a good brisk boil for the first 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to medium-low. If you don’t have a steamer, simply place an upturned saucer in the base of a deep saucepan and pour over it boiling water straight from the kettle. Gingerly place in the pudding.

Turn out the pudding onto a serving plate and serve immediately with plenty of custard.

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Filed under baking, Britain, cooking, Desserts, food, General, history, Nineteenth Century, Puddings, Recipes, The Victorians, Uncategorized

15 responses to “Spotted Dick

  1. Yours looks yummy! I tried to make a skinny version once, in my bid to eat healthier. i “think” it turned out OK – I served it to a Brit and he liked it. You would probably get a laugh out of my efforts –


  2. The only thing I like better than spotted dick is golden pudding – I’m not sure what was in it because my mother was the cook and in those days I was just a child, but I think it was another suet pudding but with golden syrup in it. In our house it was known as “ooh pudding” because whenever it appeared on the table everyone said “ooh!”. Especially the lodgers who were billeted on us during the warm who had never tasted anything like it – poor deprived individuals. One of them used to rub his hands together when it appeared. Looking back, my mother wasn’t really a very good cook but this was her masterpiece!

    Even better was the marmalade pudding which I didn’t discover until I left home – I think it was basically the same thing with marmalade in it.

    As a long time emigrant to Canada, and watching my cholesterol, I miss them all. You had to have Bird’s custard on all of them of course.


    • I’ll have to have a look for Golden Pudding. I’m sure it can be found somewhere! I lived in the USA for a couple of years and missed this sort of cooking a lot, needless to say managed to introduce my American friends to suet puddings!

      I too love Bird’s Custard, but every now and again, I have to make a batch of the proper stuff!

      Thanks for your comment Tony!


  3. I found golden pudding! It appears in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. It has treacle, marmalade and breadcrumbs in to. Aside from Christmas Pudding, you don’t see breadcrumb-based puds very often. I shall try it and post it!


  4. I am a Canadian travel writer and have a blog called Dining Out With History ( I travel to learn about the places (worldwide) that prepare and teach us to cook food with roots in the past. I will follow your blog as I am a Canadian and some of our food roots are from Great Britain. Thanks for your work and I would like to feature the Spotted Dick recipe on my blog and link it with yours.


  5. ..I am the BIGGEST spotted Dick fan, and so this evening have a steaming spotted dick on the go thanks to your recipe. When ever we used to go out, especially to the seaside, my children would always scour the menu for Spotted Dick. We rarely found it. Sometimes we would find a version made with butter but it’s the rubbery texture I adore! Roll on 8 O’clock 🙂


  6. Pingback: The Death of Common Sense | Do Not Annoy The Writer

  7. Pingback: Suet – A Beginners’ Guide | British Food: A History

  8. Mike Allchin

    Custard?? The only proper way of eating a spotted dick is slicing it as if its bread. Spread loads of proper butter onto it, then sprinkle heaps of brown sugar over the top. Delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Allchin

      Also sorry to disappoint but that is more of a song pudding. A true spotted dick is white, steamed in a white tea towel., although nowadays muslin is used. I have only seen 1 recipe in a book that actually cooks it true to form. Can’t remember the book but its by the hairy bikers. We used to have it at least twice a week when I was a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Whaaaat!? Are you having this cold? I’m not sure what I think about this


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