Spotted Dick

Saturday 16 September 2017

This is a recipe I first posted about 8 or so years ago when I first started this blog.  I felt that it needed updating, and certainly needed better photographs than the original one I had.  That was very early on in my food blogging days, and I really didn't know what I was doing and I did not have a very nice camera.  Since then I have integrated things into the blog like posting dual measurements, for both North America and over here, and I must admit, much nicer photographs. At least I think they are!

I have to confess when I first heard the name of this British Pudding I was quite captivated. It sounded quite rude and I remember giggling rather nervously when someone mentioned it. It did rather intrigue me though. I suspect this is a rather naughty name given to it by rather naughty school boys.

Once I tasted it, I was truly smitten, and could well understand how this was one of Todd's favourite desserts, or puddings as they are lovingly referred to over here. My first taste of it was from a tin that we had bought at the local shops, which in no way compares to the real thing, made with your own little hands. Imagine a sweet, slightly stodgy but light dough studded with sweet currants, served up warm with lashings of lovely sweet custard . . . this truly is good.

I have also heard this pudding referred to as spotted dog and figgy duff. It's quite like a roly poly, studded with dried fruits, or in this case dried currants. By a roly poly I mean a sweet suet dough shaped into a sausage, wrapped and tied in greaseproof paper and then steamed until done.

 If you have read any of Beatrix Potter's stories you will remember that Tom Kitten was rolled up into a roly poly pudding by Samuel Whiskers. Thank goodness Samuel didn't succeed and Tom managed to escape! Although being immersed in a sweet pudding might seem like a bit of a dream come true to a pudding afficionado, I don't think somehow that Samuel had quite the same pleasant end  for Tom in mind . . . 

*Spotted Dick*
Serves 8 

This is great simply cut into slices and served hot with butter, drizzled with some double cream, or with a bit of demerara sugar sprinkled on top, but for the true British experience one really must have it served with lashings of warm custard poured over. 

25g soft butter for greasing (1 3/4 TBS)
350g plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
2 TBS baking powder
150g shredded suet (2/3 cup, or 5 1/4 ounces)
75g caster sugar (1/3 cup + 1 TBS)
150g dried currants (scant cup)
2 TBS brandy
25g butter, melted (1 3/4 TBS)
the finely grated zest and juice from 2 un-waxed lemons
1 large free range egg, beaten lightly
150ml whole milk (5 1/2 fluid ounces)
150ml double cream (5 1/2 fluid ounces) 

Warm the brandy just until it is warm. Remove from the heat, stir in the dried currants and then set aside to infuse for half an hour minimum. 

Butter a piece of greaseproof paper, or wax paper, measuring about 60 cm (24 inches) square with the soft butter.  Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and caster sugar together in a bowl. Drain the currants, reserving any liquid. Stir the currants and sue into the flour mixturet. Add the melted butter. Stir in the lemon juice along with the lemon zest and beaten egg. Stir the reserved juice from the currants, milk and cream together. Slowly add this to the mixture, stirring, until you reach a slightly stiff (firm but moist) dropping consistency. You may not need to use all the liquid. 

Spoon the mixture onto one end of the paper, creating a sausage shape about 3 inches in diameter. Roll up in the paper, being careful not to roll it up too tightly.  I like to pleate it shut at the end.  Make sure you leave space for expansion, or else the mixture will not be able to rise properly and will end up heavy rather than light when done. 

Tie the ends tightly closed with some string. Place the pudding in a hot steamer fitted with a lid, over steaming water. Cover and steam for 1 1/4 hours until cooked. Check the bottom of the steamer from time to time and make sure you keep it topped up with hot water. 

Remove the pudding from the steamer and unwrap. Cut into slices and place in bowls. Serve with lashings of warm custard for the whole spotted dick experience! 

Note - Alternately you can spoon the dough into a buttered pudding basin (medium sized).  Cover lightly with a sheet of pleated buttered greaseproof paper and secure with a string, then steam, covered, over simmering water in the top of a double boiler for the same length of time.

*Proper Custard*
Makes about 3 cups
Printable Recipe

This is also known as creme anglaise. Be sure not to let the mixture boil once the eggs are added, or you wil end up with a curdled mess. You only need to heat it up enough to cook the eggs. The custard is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon.

8 egg yolks
75g caster sugar (a generous 1/3 cup)
300ml whole milk  (1 1/4 cup)
300ml double cream (1 1/4 cup)
1 vanilla pod, split

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until well blended. Place the milk and cream in a saucepan with the vanilla. Scrape the insides of the vanilla pod into the mixture before you add it. Bring the mixture just to the boil.

Pour a little of this mixture into the eggs to temper them, and beat it together well. Pour this back into the pan and whisk together. Return to the heat and using a whisk, lightly stir until it begins to thicken. DO NOT BOIL.

As the egg yolks warm, the cream will get thicker and create a custard. Keep stirring until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve. Leave to cool a bit before using. Serve warm or allow to cool completely,stirring occasionally.

The dish was originally mentioned in Alexis Soyer's "The modern Housewife or ménagère", published in 1849, in which he described a recipe for "Plum Bolster, or Spotted Dick".  The name has long been a source of amusement or embarassed titters.  Whatever the case . . . its delicious and well worth the time and effort to make it.  Bon Appetit!


  1. I really need to try this. I first heard of it about 10 years ago or so and thought the name was so funny and then I forgot to look it up. Unfortunate name that sounds like...a.....medical problem that needs antibiotics! Your version looks lovely and probably a good choice for a cold winter night. I've been afraid to try to steam a pudding, probably not as difficult as I'm imagining but I've never had one before and don't know what to expect. Thank you Marie, will try and work up the nerve to give it a try.

    1. Its a great pudding for cold and wet weather Jeannine! Take the plunge. Its not as hard as you might suppose! I think you will love it! xo

  2. I have always wanted to try a steamed pudding and this one looks wonderful. However, I have never seen suet in the grocery story. What is a good substitute: lard or butter?

    1. Hi AKH. Thanks for your question. The problem with other fats versus Suet is that it takes suet longer to melt than the other ones, which means that when you use suet, it leaves little pockets of air in what you are cooking which makes the end result lighter. When you use butter or lard, you get a much heavier and sometimes greasier result. You can use them however if you want. I would opt for lard and freeze it first, then pulse it quickly in a food processor to chop it into bits, then spread it out onto a baking sheet and freeze the bits again, before stirring it in. The end result would be little frozen bits of fat that would take a bit longer to melt than regular lard and you would get a lighter result than if you just grated in room temp or even fridge temp lard. Might I ask where you live? You can sometimes get things like suet via online sites such as Amazon. You can freeze it.

    2. I live in New Mexico so finding lard is not a problem. I never thought about Amazon. Great suggestion! Have a wonderful day!

    3. I have found it on the American Amazon site AKH! You have a wonderful day also!


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