If you’re looking for a cozy and comforting dessert to warm you up on a cold winter’s day, you might want to try spotted dick. No, it’s not a medical condition or an insult, but a traditional British pudding with a rich and fruity flavor.
Spotted dick is a steamed pudding made from a suet (mutton fat) pastry that is sprinkled with dried fruits such as raisins or currants. The name comes from the word ‘dick’ meaning a plain pudding, possibly derived from ‘ding’. The dish has been around since the 19th century and has caused amusement and confusion for many people.
“Imagine pitching a pudding called ‘spotted dick’ to the board of directors at a marketing agency, you’d be sure they’d be sniggering just as children have for centuries,” wrote Matthew Sparkes for New Scientist. Some prefer to use the less embarrassing name of “spotted dog pudding”, but it doesn’t quite sound the same. Some government dining halls in England reportedly refer to this dessert as “spotted Richard” instead!
The pudding is usually served with custard sauce, which adds a creamy and sweet contrast to the dense and moist cake. The custard can be flavored with vanilla, rum, brandy or even lemon zest, which also adds a bright note to the pudding.
“The name raises eyebrows, but this dessert is delicious!” wrote Nancy Mock for Taste of Home. She shared a recipe for making spotted dick with butter instead of suet, which is easier to find and gives a lighter texture. She also used currants and lemon zest for the filling, and made a simple vanilla custard sauce with milk, sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks.
If you want to make a more traditional version of spotted dick, you can use suet, which gives the pudding a richer and slightly savory flavor. You can also use raisins or sultanas instead of currants, or even add some mixed spice for extra warmth. The Spruce Eats has a recipe for the ultimate spotted dick that uses these ingredients and shows how to steam the pudding in a cloth napkin or foil.
Spotted dick is not the only British pudding with a funny name. There are also fidget pie, toad in the hole, good king Henry and singin’ hinnies, among others. But spotted dick is probably the most famous and beloved one, especially around Christmas time.
So don’t let the name put you off and give this pudding a try. You might be surprised by how delicious it is!