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 tittering rather nervously when someone mentioned it. It did rather intrigue me though. Lets face it, how can something named Spotted Dick be anything but delicious??? Once I tasted it, I was truly smitten. Granted, 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 little currants, drowning in a pool of lovely sweet custard . . . this truly is good.
One thing that the British are quite famous for is their puddings, and by pudding I don't mean pudding by the North American interpretation. A pudding over here is a dessert, plain and simple. Hot, cold, baked, whipped, you name it . . . a pudding by any other name is quite simply dessert. And boy oh boy . . . what a choice we have to choose from, and whereas in North America our baked desserts will more often than not be accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, over here they come with lashings of warm custard poured around and over top. Yumm!
In days gone by this pudding was also known as spotted dog. It's quite like a roly poly, studded with dried fruits, or in this case currants. By a roly poly I mean a sweet suet dough shaped into a sausage, wrapped 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 that Samuel had a quite the same dream in mind . . .
It's hardly surprising when one looks at it, that it was re-named . . . ahem . . snicker, snicker. My boys certainly got a kick out of it when they came over, but name and all puns aside, this certainly is a delicious pudding . . . spotted dog, spotted Richard, or *cough*sputter*giggle* . . . Spotted Dick . . .
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
350g plain flour
2 TBS baking powder
15o g shredded suet
75g caster sugar
2 TBS brandy
25g butter, melted
the finely grated zest and juice from 2 un-waxed lemons
150ml whole milk
150ml double cream
Warm the brandy until it is just simmering and throw in the currants. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for at least 3o minutes.
Butter a piece of greaseproof paper, or wax paper, measuring about 60 cm square with the soft butter.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and caster sugar together in a bowl. Stir in the currants (drain any liquid off and reserve) and suet. Add the melted butter. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and egg. Stir the reserved juice from the currants, milk and cream together and then add slowly, stirring, until you reach a dropping consistency. You may not need to use it all.
Spoon the mixture into the paper and rollit up into a sausage shape about 6 cm in diameter. Be careful not to roll it up too tightly, otherwise the mixture will not be able to rise sufficiently and will be heavy rather than light when cooked.
Tie at the ends with some string and 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!
Makes about 3 cups
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
300ml whole milk
300ml double cream
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.