Flour of England, fruit of Spain,
Met together in a shower of rain;
Put in a bag tied round with a string;
If you’ll tell me this riddle,
I’ll give you a ring.
The answer to this little riddle is, ta-da, steamed pudding! Once upon a long time ago, all puddings in England were steamed. Spotted dick is one such pudding. First mentioned here in my previous post, it turns up on school menus all across the UK. Here in Canada, we see steamed puddings mostly at Christmas . So this recipe link for spotted dick should appeal to folks on my side of the pond who’d like to try something different. But beware: this artery-clogging dish, made with beef suet and bathed in eggs, should really only be eaten once in a while.
Beef suet – What’s that?
Beef suet is fat that comes from around a cow’s kidneys. It’s the hardest fat we have for cooking… which means it’s loaded with the kind of fat we shouldn’t eat much of… the saturated kind. Rendered suet isn’t available at my local grocery store. You probably have to get suet from the butcher and render it yourself.
Put the suet in a frying pan on low heat until it melts, then pour off the clear liquid fat. This is what you keep. Congratulations! You’ve just rendered the suet. Chill it in the fridge till it’s hard and white. Easy peasy! Now you can make your suet dough.
The fruit gives the pudding its spots. Currents, which are dried small black grapes, are used most often. But other raisins (dried red grapes), sultanas (dried white grapes), and other dried fruit (think dates, cranberries and apricots) are also used.
I can’t leave a recipe alone, though. For my skinny vegetarian version, substitute all ingredients for Brussels sprouts and prunes. Hahaha – just wanted to see if you were paying attention! My skinny pudding is currently (pardon the pun) upstairs steaming away. I made it with mostly unsaturated fat instead of suet. So it still remains to be seen whether or not it will taste any good.
How to make Vinny’s “skinny” spotted dick
Get your steamer ready. Use a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. It must be large enough to hold a small, deep heat-resistant pudding bowl. Put three metal cookie cutters in the pot to hold the bowl off the bottom. Fill the pot with four inches of water. Heat the water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Make the pudding: Measure 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup oat bran (to up the fiber), 1 tablespoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse them in a food processor until blended.
To reduce the saturated fat, I used Crisco vegetable shortening rather than suet. Still, 2% of the fat is trans fat, also bad. It’s just a little… but there’s no getting around the fat problem in this dessert! So… cut 1 cup chilled shortening into small cubes and add them to the food processor. Pulse six times, just until the shortening is crumbed with the flour.
Dump the contents into a mixing bowl. Work 6 tablespoons of milk into the mix with a fork. Knead until the dough’s slightly sticky. I couldn’t “knead” very much because my dough was way too sticky. I had used 8 tablespoons of milk, so try 6 T for a more doughy dough. This dessert ends up with a feel somewhere between a sticky cake and a bread. It isn’t like any “pudding” we might be used to in Canada.
Add 1/2 cup (total) of dried cranberries and finely chopped dried apricot plus 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest. Knead just enough to work the fruit through the dough. Form into a round ball and put it into a round heat-resistant, well-buttered bowl. Cut a round of waxed paper to fit the bowl. Butter it and put buttered side down on the pudding. Press the ball flat. Cover the bowl with heavy-duty aluminum foil and pinch around the edge to seal.
Put the covered dish into your steamer (use an oven glove) and steam gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The pudding should be firm and golden through out. Use a cake tester.
Let the pudding cool in it’s bowl on a rack for 5 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the edge, turn the pudding upside down on your serving plate, and take the bowl off. Serve a small scoop of pudding in a cup with a dab of stirred custard sauce.
Would Harry Potter have liked my “skinny” version? I served it to a former British school boy and he said it was yummy! I liked it hot rather than cold, but I found it quite rich. Tasty, but a little goes a long way. Easy to make, but some of the steps are unfamiliar. Easier the second time .
yield: 6 servings
active time: 40 min
total time: 2 1/2 hr