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Traditional Spotted Dick pudding with real English Custard recipes. A delicious taste of old England.

Updated on August 26, 2017
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Can't wait to dig in and cover in custard
Can't wait to dig in and cover in custard
Doesn't that look delicious?
Doesn't that look delicious?

There are several foods that are associated with traditional English fare and this has been a favourite for many decades. The name of this classic English pudding has amused children for just as long and why some overly coy parents prefer to call it “Spotted Dog Pudding” or even ridiculously Spotted Richard escapes me. “Spotted” just refers to the raisins and currants in the mix and the word “dick” is a colloquial word for pudding. This is no pudding for those on a diet. With ingredients of suet, flour and dried fruit it is very high in calories. This is why it is absolutely ideal for the end of a hard or a cold winter’s day.

I have based the recipe on a steamed one dating from the mid 1800′s. The quantities are sufficient for serving up to six but the left-overs will take being re-heated or even microwaved for the next day.

Recipe Ingredients:

12 oz. plain white flour

4 tsp baking powder

4 oz. brown sugar (Demerara)

2 large free-range eggs (beaten)

8 oz. shredded suet. If using suet from the butchers, remove skin and shred finely. (you can use vegetarian but beef is best)

3 tbsp lemon juice.

8 - 10 oz. raisins (or currents or a blend of both)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

10 - 12 fluid oz. full fat milk (1 cup) may be varied slightly to suit.

Zest of half a medium size unwaxed lemon.

Good pinch of Sea salt

Generously grease a 2 Pint pudding basin with organic butter.

Add ingredients to a large mixing bowl by sieving in the flour; baking powder, add the sea salt, cinnamon, sugar, shredded suet, lemon juice and the raisins. Mix everything together and then add the beaten eggs and cold milk until it comes together. Too wet then add in more plain flour. The final mix should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency.

Put the mix into the greased pudding basin, packing it down and level the pudding mix until about 1.5 inches below the top of the basin. Cut a round, large sheet of greaseproof paper and a similar one of foil slightly bigger so that they will overlap the sides of the basin by at least 4 inches.

Make a lid using the greaseproof paper, foil and string.

Using a deep saucepan with a tight fitting lid, stand the pudding basin on an upturned heatproof plate to raise it off the bottom. Pour in boiling water to just less than half way up the side of the pudding basin.

Bring the water to a medium simmer and cover with a tight fitting lid allowing to steam for 2 and a 1/2 hours, topping up with boiling water from time to time. Check the water level every so often so that it doesn’t boil dry.

Check it is fully cooked by inserting a metal skewer which should come out clean.

Unwrap, cut into thick portions and serve with lots of custard (see below)

Real English Custard

1 vanilla pod (for best results, or you can use a good quality vanilla essence)

10 fl oz. double cream (this is the traditional version – you can use single or even full cream milk)

4 large free-range egg yolks

1 teaspoon corn flour

1½ oz. golden caster sugar

Split the vanilla pod lengthways and reserve the seeds. Place both the pod and seeds into a small saucepan, together with the cream. Gently heat the pan to just below simmering point.

Whisk the egg yolks, corn flour and sugar together in a medium bowl using a balloon whisk. Remove the vanilla pod and discard but retain the seeds. Whisking the egg mixture all the time with one hand, gradually pour the hot cream into the bowl.

When thoroughly mixed, pour back into the saucepan and under a gentle heat continue whisking until the custard thickens and has a smooth texture. If it becomes lumpy, don't worry, just transfer back to the bowl and continue to whisk until it becomes smooth again.

Pour the final custard into a glass or china jug, cover the surface with cling film (to prevent it forming a skin) and leave to cool. To serve it warm later, remove the cling film and sit the jug in a pan of barely simmering water. Actually as children there was always a fight to get the custard skin or alternatively to drink the custard hot in a glass.

© 2012 Peter Geekie


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    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear sweetie1

      I think you will find it worthwhile it has similarities to some Indian sweet dishes.

      Kind regards Peter

    • sweetie1 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Looks tasty and though don't look easy to make but I am sure with practice i would be able to make it. Going to bookmark this recipe.

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear Movie Master

      It's when that spoon sinks into the first mouthful of sweet suet pudding and the tangy raisins and the smooth vanilla custard surrounds your tongue it all comes flooding back.

      Kind regards Peter

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Peter, I haven't had Spotted Dick in years! a fabulous recipe, looking forward to having, thank you and voted up.

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear AliciaC,

      This was always a favourite school dinner - a big slice with real custard and you were set up for the day.

      kind regards Peter

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      dear teaches12345,

      I'm glad you liked the recipe - it tastes as good as it looks

      kind regards Peter

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I used to have this pudding with some of my school dinners. I loved it when it was mixed with creamy custard. Thanks for the recipes. They both sound delicious - especially the custard!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      This is a really interesting recipe and I love the history you have shared on it. I love custard and I may just have to try this one day.

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear Kate

      Just a few foods can remind us of the simplicity of childhood.

      Real custard is so simple and delicious - why did I start using it from a tin ?

      Kind regards Peter

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      7 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear joanveronica,

      Recipes for this type of food always remind me of my childhood and the comforting tastes and smell of all those years ago

      Kind regards Peter

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 

      7 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      This sounds absolutely delicious Peter especially the custard which I will definitely try to make soon.The recipes are so straightforward to follow.

      Voted up and useful


    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 

      7 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Delicious! Brings back memories of bygone years, I used to eat this when I was small. Good family memories. Voted up, awesome and interesting.


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