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/1 litre pudding basin, that serves 6 to 8 people:
300g self-raising flour
150g suet (fresh or packet)
75g caster sugar
Zest 2 lemons
275-300 ml 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.
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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27 responses to “Spotted Dick”
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 – http://cookupastory.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/steamed-pudding-hot-steamed-pudding-cold/
I saw. I read. I commented.
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!
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!
I am a Canadian travel writer and have a blog called Dining Out With History ( http://www.diningoutwithhistory.com). 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.
Hey. Thanks very much for your post. Yes, please do link to my blog. If you need any more information, please ask
..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 🙂
So glad you found my recipe! I’m a great lover too, and I do worry that youngsters of today are missing out on these sorts of treats! Let me know how you get on
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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.
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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.
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Done in a long cylinder or as a round shape? I’ve seen it done as a cylinder shape…which is called spotted dog in Scotland. It’s all very confusing
Whaaaat!? Are you having this cold? I’m not sure what I think about this
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yes I knew it as rolled in a cloth with sultanas as welland dropped in brisk water 20 mins then slowly for the rest of the 2 hours. Lovely with custard. ps in my very late almost there eighties!
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Thanks for your comment! I’ve never cooked any kind of pudding in a cloth … I really should give it a go…
Absolutely fantastic simple pudding that lends itself to so many other variations.
Soak fruit in brandy,port,or amaretto.
Add cinnamon or mixed spice, wrap in nettles, serve with syrup, ice cream, whipped cream, light brandy cream, lemon and nettle cream,
Or any combination of the above.
Wrap in grease proof paper then a tea towel tied before putting in a Dutch oven full of boiling water, cook over a garden fire bowl to save electricity and gas.
Let your imagination run free !.
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Amaretto fruit sounds like a great idea. Not sure about the nettles though – makes me think of those 18th century sweet spinach pies which I could never get my head around.
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Good cheap and filling treat, easy to make… In these times of austerity households would benefit ~. How to inspire people ?
Cookery lessons for adults ………. real them in with the promise of finding true love and a bottle of Prosseco ?
I ‘de reel it out with you!!
Tiffany Murray . 🎉🎉🎉
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Yes I think people need to return to this kind of cooking. I’m going to start posting more cheap and delicious recipes
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