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Worldwide Gastronomy Habits & Trends

Delicious dessert or a venereal disease: let’s discover British spotted dick

ByDaria Malinowska

Jan 12, 2023

Spotted what? I can already imagine the scandalized faces of our readers. No, not that. In Great Britain, Spotted Dick is actually a scrumptious traditional pudding dotted with currants and doused in vanilla custard. The custard is not optional. Do not ask me why, it just isn’t.

According to some sources, this particular type of steamed pudding lies between a suet pudding and a sponge variety. This claim may result from the fact that in more non-traditional recipes, suet (raw fat found around loins of cows or sheep) is often replaced with other fats, most commonly butter. Moreover, eggs can also be added to achieve a more sponge-like texture.

When it comes to the taste, it should be somewhat sweet from the pieces of dried fruit (currants or raisins). Sometimes, you can even taste delicate and zingy notes of lemon.

Now that we know what we are talking about, we can proceed to the “why?”. Why is it called this way?

A pudding by another name..?

While spotted is relatively straightforward (pieces of currants), dick seems to be less so. Does it refer to someone named Richard? Maybe a king or the author of the dish? Truthfully, nobody knows for sure. It is theorized that the latter part of the name may derive from the shortened Old English terms historically used to refer to pudding: puddog or puddick. It is not certain, of course. Nevertheless, it does appear plausible to be the case here; In Scotland, for instance, this cake is still called Spotted Dog Pudding.

A Victorian creation

Just like many other puddings, Spotted Dick gained popularity during the Victorian Era. The first-ever recorded recipe for this dessert that we know about comes from the mid-19th century cookbook The Modern Housewife or Ménagère written by the famous Chef Alexis Sawyer. In it, the author seems to indicate that the pudding had already been out there for quite some time, even then.

Either way, Spotted Dick has not lost its popularity over the centuries. Nowadays, you can even find it packed tightly in tin cans on shelves of virtually every British grocery store!

But who needs the canned stuff when the homemade is within your reach? Believe me, making Spotted Dick is almost as simple as making cookies. Additionally, if you have never tried steamed pudding before, it will be even more exciting!

Below, you will find a recipe for the traditional British Spotted Dick. Give it a try!

Recipe

Ingredients

For the cake
  • 250g of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • around 140g of shredded suet or 10 tbsps of butter (chilled and diced)
  • around 130g of caster sugar (you can also blitz the granulated one)
  • 140g of dried currants or raisins
  • 180ml of milk
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • zest from one whole lemon
For the vanilla custard sauce
  • 100g of granulated sugar 
  • 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg, or cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp of melted butter
  • around 360ml of either milk or half-and-half
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract

Preparation

Spotted dick
  1. It’s boiled so first, you will need a large pot with water. To prevent the pudding mold from touching the bottom of the pot, place cookie cutters (metal ones!) or a bit of scrunched tin foil. Put the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, grease the pudding mold (do not skimp on the fat!) and prepare the dough.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and fat of your choice until it all resembles coarse sand.
  4. Then, transfer it to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients: milk, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and dried fruit. Combine. Scoop it all up into the prepared mold and seal tightly so the water doesn’t go in accidentally.
  5. Lower the dish into the boiling water in such a way that the water level reaches half of the mold. Weigh the mold down with a plate or a bowl or two. Leave on a simmering level of heat for around 90 minuter (butter) or 3-4 hours (suet). During this time do not touch the pudding, just keep an eye on the water level and add some if needed.
  6. Take the mold out and let it rest for 15 minutes. Invert the pudding onto a plate, slice, and serve warm with a splash of custard cream.
Custard sauce
  1. To a saucepan, add all of the ingredients listed above in the custard sauce section (sugar, flour, spices, egg, butter, milk, and salt). Whisk it all together until it forms a uniform mixture, and only then can you place it over medium heat on the stove.
  2. Cook it whisking till the sauce thickens. When is it ready? It’s easy to check! Just dip the spoon in the sauce and turn it over. Then, run your finger down its back. If the mixture parts like the red sea before Moses, it is done!
  3. Now, strain it through a sieve and add the vanilla extract. Serve it hot or cold on top of the pudding.

Enjoy!

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