Traditional Spotted Dick – UK Christmas Pudding is a steamed cake with currants. This is a traditional holiday food throughout the UK! Served with custard, it a decadent holiday treat!
Several years ago, I hosted an Irish themed event and cooked a complete Irish menu that included Dublin Coddle, Colcannon and many other delicious Irish foods. For dessert, we celebrated with a Spotted Dick. After everyone finished laughing at the name of the dessert, it was enjoyed by everyone to the core. The name does cause Americans to snicker, although people from the UK don’t know what all the giggles are about – it’s just Christmas pudding!
Much of Irish cuisine is synonymous with Brit food. Spotted Dick is one of those desserts that are popular in both Ireland and England. However, like all cuisines, there are regional differences, bur for some in England and Ireland, Christmas really isn’t Christmas there until you’ve had your slice of Spotted Dick. If you have ever watched any Brit TV, you will often see references to the Christmas Pudding, which is another way of saying Spotted Dick
What is termed as a pudding in the UK is basically a steamed cake. Many Brit colonized countries make these puddings like when I made this Samoan Puligi. In many of these countries, an oven is not a basic kitchen appliance as it is here in the US. Not having an oven here for most is akin to not having a refrigerator. They had to come up with another way to make delicious cakes. Hence the steamed cake, known as a pudding is a delicious way of making a stove top cake.
I am lucky to have a British market here in NYC – Myers of Keswick where I can get any variety of Brit foods – from barley water to brown sauce to freshly made pasties, bangers and Irish bacon. Although you can use substitutes which I will detail for you, since I have it available, I made it just like they would in the British countryside!
Specialty Ingredients & Supplies
Suet is the hard fat of beef or mutton found around the kidneys or loins. This is often used in place of butter to create delicious flaky and tender crusts in British pasties and other pastries. Although the shop did have beef suet, I opted for the vegetarian suet which is made from oil and flour.
If you can get your hands on it and choose to utilize beef suet, reduce to quantity of milk in the recipe by 1/4 cup as this has more moisture in it.
- Devon Custard
I used store bought Devon Custard which is a light, barely sweetened custard.
- Pudding Mold
Since this is standard Christmas fare, most people in the UK will have a pudding mold with a cover. However, use what you have. I have a kugelhopf pan which is similar in size and shape to their pudding molds. In the past, I just used a regular bundt pan. The height may not be the same, but it will taste just as delicious.
I placed a standard steamer rack that I used with my bamboo steamer for cooking Asian food, inside a large pot. I then added the kugelhopf pan on top. I added enough water to come almost to the rim of the pot, but leave some room for when the water starts to boil it does not overflow. I covered the whole thing first with aluminum foil as the pot cover would not fit securely with the kugelhopf pan. I then placed the pot cover on top. This contraption worked perfectly.
IN THE MAKING – HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL SPOTTED DICK
The batter will be the consistency of biscuit or cookie dough!
Who can resist that delicious pudding oozing with all that custard over it!!!
Traditional Spotted Dick – UK Christmas Pudding
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 oz shredded suet or butter
- 1 cup milk
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup currants
- Custard for serving
- Grease a pudding mold.
- Place a steamer rack inside a large pot. Add enough water to come halfway up the size of the pudding mold (or bundt pan) and bring to a boil.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and suet.
- Using a pastry blender, cut the suet into the dry ingredients.
- In a small bowl, combine milk, lemon zest and vanilla.
- Add milk to flour mix and stir to combine. You may have to knead with your hands until you have a soft dough.
- Add currants and mix well.
- Transfer to greased pudding mold (or bundt pan) and spread in an even layer.
- Place inside the boiling pot of water on top of the steamer rack.
- Cover well and steam for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, check the water level. If it has evaporated too low, add some more water.
- Continue to steam for another 30-45 minutes, until set.
- Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
- Turn mold over onto a plate.
- Serve with custard.
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