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Food! Spotted Dick, What the heck is a pudding called that??
In Praise of Suet
Not many people know this, but suet is the hard fat that cocoons the kidneys. It is very hard in deed and lends itself to being grated. Fortunately for washing up haters every where, you can buy suet ready grated and lightly dusted with flour, well you can in the UK, I haven't seen it for sale in the USA, but if you talk nicely to your butcher, I'm sure he will find some for you. Beef is best Naturally, as it is hard saturated fat, it comes with a health warning. Anyway, that aside, for those brave trenchermen still up for it, here is my take on Spotted Dick! By the way, I could find no explanation to its rather strange name. The best Wikipedia could come up with was that the dried fruit made it spotty and Dick was a derivative of dough but who were they kidding?
Spotted Dick is a steamed suet pudding made of the fore mentioned suet, flour and dried fruit. My Mum used to make it on Mondays as she could stick it on to boil and leave it to its own devices for at least two hours, which let her get on with the washing (it being Monday, washing day ) Dear Pam Ayres of poetic fame used to recite a poem about coming home from school and if they saw the pudding cloth flapping on the washing line they knew they were in for a lovely steamed pudding with yellow custard. They were much simpler times in the years just after WW11 in the UK. Food was short, flour and suet were available and produced a very nice light sponge pudding, quite delicious with custard. I mean the bright yellow concoction made from a packet, not the posh eggy kind!
Here is how my Mum used to make it. There are many ways to make Spotted Dick, there is even a Youtube video of how to make it, but it is a modern version made with butter, this is the version from the past as Spotted Dick originated around 1850.
Ingredients for Spotted Dick
2 oz Prepared suet (if you have to prepare your own, grate coarsely and dust lightly with some of the flour, remove any skin)
4 oz S R Flour plus pinch of salt Brown sugar to taste (Approx 1 oz should suffice).
Grated rind of one lemon 1 egg
4 oz Currants, Raisins or Sultanas (Pick over currants carefully if used)
Milk or water to mix to a soft, elastic dough.
Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat the egg then add the egg and sufficient milk or water to make the soft dough. At this stage you should decide if you are going to use a pudding basin, if you possess one, or if you are going to use the famous pudding cloth. Turn the mixture into a greased pudding basin. If your pudding basin does not have a lid, cover with grease proofed paper and tie around the top. Place carefully in a pan containing boiling water and simmer with the pan lid on for at least two hours. To prepare the pudding using a cloth, form the dough into a fat oblong able to fit into your pan. Wrap in grease proofed paper joining the edges with a pleat. Wrap firmly in a cotton or linen square of fabric, tying tightly at both ends and lower carefully into the pan of boiling water. Simmer for at least two hours. Top up the pan with boiling water not cold when the water level drops so as to keep up the boil.
To serve, remove from pan carefully, allow to cool slightly then placing a plate over the pudding dish invert the dish so that the pudding turns out onto the plate. You may need to loosen the sides with a knife if it sticks. Unwrap the pudding if that was your method of choice a place on serving dish. Save the pudding cloth for next time, carefully washing it in a non fragrant detergent and rinsing well. Prepare a jug of hot custard and enjoy!