More Proper Puddings – Individual Spotted Dicks

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

It was back in February 2010 that I last wrote about good old-fashioned English puddings so it’s high time I returned to the subject. Yes I know it’s March now so technically we’re in what the Met Office calls Spring but looking out of the window this morning there’s a sharp frost on the ground so a warming suet pudding would still be very welcome.

I have a weakness for traditional suet puddings which have an undeserved reputation for heaviness. Carefully made, ideally with freshly grated beef suet rather than Atora, they can be beautifully light.

Tracking down an authentic Spotted Dick recipe from my quite extensive collection of recipe books proved surprisingly tricky. After leafing through Mrs Beeton, Jane Grigson, Delia, Prue Leith et al I’d drawn a blank. The only recipe named Spotted Dick I could find was in my trusty battered old copy of The Good Housekeeping Cookery book. This very simple recipe includes just suet, flour, breadcrumbs, currants,milk to bind and a flavouring of grated lemon peel. It’s shaped into a neat roll shape, enclosed in greaseproof paper and foil and steamed for 2 hours.

The traditional roll-shaped pudding worked just fine but I was after something a little daintier and more appealing to a suet pudding first-timer. I tried the same mixture shaped in individual pudding moulds first steamed and another batch water-bath baked for just an hour. This didn’t work half so well and in the case of the baked pudding was really quite unpleasant – stodgy and oily. I concluded that long steaming to allow the ingredients to meld properly was important.

I then sought inspiration from 2 further places – 1) the ingredients list on the pack of Marks and Spencer individual Spotted Dick puddings (yes,really, and rather good too!) and Mrs Beeton. Mrs Beeton may not have a pudding called Spotted Dick but she does list countless different suet puddings many of which contain eggs and more flour than my recipe.

After a little tweaking and experimentation (adding eggs and more milk to give a softer batter-like texture, increasing the flour, soaking the currants in cold tea overnight to make them beautifully moist, adding a little ground allspice to lift the flavour) I came up with my own recipe below which I think is a winner and can hold its own with its Marks and Spencer counterpart both in terms of appearance, flavour and texture:


Don’t forget to serve with plenty of proper custard!

Recipe for Individual Spotted Dicks

Adapted from a recipe in “The Good Housekeeping Cookery Book”. Makes 7


150g plain flour
3 level teaspoons baking powder
150g fresh white breadcrumbs
112g suet
210g currants soaked for several hours or overnight in tea
75g golden caster sugar
level teaspoon ground allspice
grated rind of 1 and 1/2 lemons
2 medium eggs, beaten until lightly frothy
75ml-125ml milk (3-5 tablespoons) to mix to a soft dough consistency

1. Lay out 7 individual pudding basins in one or two large lidded casseroles or saucepans. There’s no need to grease as the suet will do this for you as it melts during steaming. I use Lakeland foil disposable basins available in packs of 50. Preheat an oven to 160 degrees C if you plan to steam in the oven.

2. In a mixing bowl stir together thoroughly the flour and baking powder. Add the crumbs, suet, sugar and lemon rind to the bowl and stir to mix.

3. Add the drained currants, beaten eggs and 75ml (3 tablespoons) milk. Stir until well blended adding a little more milk if necessary until you achieve a soft dough consistency.

4. Divide the mixture between the pudding basins, placing them back in the steaming pan. Cover each one tightly with foil. You can judge whether the basins are equally filled either by eye or more accurately by weighing them on some digital scales. My filled basins weighed 140g each including the 4g weight of the empty foil basin ie the weight of mixture was 136g each.

5. If you’re steaming in the oven, place the pan in the oven then fill with boiling water from the kettle to come half way up the sides of the puddings. If you’re steaming on the hob, again place the pan in position and add boiling water from the kettle.

6. Steam for 2 hours. Turn out (you may need to run a knife round the edge of the basis first) and serve with lashings of proper custard.

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