What is Spotted Dick?

The Editors at Food Fanatic | Food Fanatic Updated

Just what is Spotted Dick and how do you serve it? Find out more about this tasty and traditional British dessert and try your hand at making your own!

While many associate England with tea or fish and chips, there are lots of other traditional dishes enjoyed by Brits that seem to go unheard of here in the States!
A warming, delicious and quintessentially British dessert is the bizarrely named ‘Spotted Dick’. You may also hear this dessert (or pudding, as the British call it) - referred to as spotted dog or railway cake.
It's particularly popular with children and is a traditional British school dessert.
Spotted Dick Photo
Spotted Dick is made of suet and dried fruit - generally currants or raisins - and served with warm, golden custard.
So why the name ‘Spotted Dick’?
Well, the 'spotted' part of the name refers to the dried fruit that is seen throughout the dessert, as it resembles spots. And interestingly, in the late 19th century, other terms for pudding were dick or dog. Hence, the pudding speckled with fruit was known as a Spotted Dick!
The traditional way of making Spotted Dick is with suet. Suet is a popular ingredient in the UK and is used in many puddings, pastries and sweet mincemeat. It's basically a saturated fat - meat suet adds a rich flavor to meat pies, whereas vegetarian suet is used for lighter foods. 
Spotted Dick Picture
Suet comes from the fat that surrounds the kidneys of animals, usually cows and mutton. To make suet, fat is removed from the meat, then chopped and boiled in water to remove any impurities.
Once boiled, it needs to be cooled so that the water and fat separate; the fat that remains from this process is the suet.
Whilst the method of suet's production doesn't sound too appetizing, it does add a rich flavor to sweet dishes, without making it taste like the beef or mutton from which it originated!
Spotted Dick Image
Suet is hard to find in the US, though - so if you don't have a British store nearby, you can use vegetable shortening or butter instead!
To keep this dessert traditional, you may need to invest in a pudding basin. This is a type of bowl that is designed to steam puddings. Pudding basins are generally made of glazed earthenware or tempered glass and form a circular dome, which will give your Spotted Dick its signature shape.
Spotted Dick Pic
You won’t be disappointed with this traditional British pudding, so do give it a try - it's perfect served with a cup of tea!
And if you loved this recipe, try more British favorites - Bread and Butter Pudding, Treacle Sponge, Rhubarb Crumble and Sticky Toffee Pudding

What is Spotted Dick?

    6 Servings

Ingredients

For the spotted dick:
  • 10 ounces All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 5 ounces Vegetable Shortening, or butter (or shredded suet, if you can get it)
  • 3 ounces Fine Granulated Sugar
  • 4 ounces Dried Currants
  • zest of one Lemon
  • 200 milliliters Cold Milk
  • Butter, for greasing
For the custard:
  • 200 milliliters Milk
  • 200 milliliters Heavy Cream
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 3 ounces Fine Granulated Sugar

Directions

  1. To make the spotted dick sponge, combine flour, baking powder, shredded suet, sugar, currants and lemon zest in a large bowl and stir. 
  2. Add the milk and mix well to create a soft dough.
  3. Grease a pudding basin with oil or butter and transfer the dough into it, covering with a folded piece of greaseproof paper.
  4. Using ties, secure the ends of the greaseproof paper and place a damp dish cloth over the top. Tie the end of the dish cloth so that everything is secure.
  5. Place the pudding basin into a large saucepan and fill 2/3 of the way with water, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for one hour. This will allow the pudding to steam and create the right texture.
  6. To make the custard, bring milk and cream to a simmer in a saucepan. 
  7. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light and frothy.
  8. Pour the hot milk mixture onto the eggs, bit by bit, stirring well to combine with each addition. Transfer the combined mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until thickened. 
  9. Once ready to serve, slice a wedge of the spotted dick and drizzle with the warm custard.
Source: BBC Food