Spotted Puddink—Steamed hot or steamed cold…

Spotted Puddink in English tea cups, with stirred vanilla custard

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.

You may have already guessed the answer to this little riddle: steamed pudding!

Explaining Spotted Puddink, more commonly known as Spotted Dick

Once upon a long time ago, all puddings in England were called dicks. They think “dick” is a corruption of the old English word puddink. Spotted Dick, mentioned in my previous post, is a popular steamed pudding that turns up often in school lunch-rooms across the UK. Harry Potter liked Spotted Dick.

Here in Canada, we see steamed puddings mostly at Christmas. But maybe this Hogwarts favorite is just the thing to get the kids in the mood for cooking any time of year. The name alone should catch their interest!

But beware: this dish, made traditionally with beef suet and bathed in eggs, is a dessert that wizards may have cast a spell over… too much of it and you could inflate like a hot-air balloon!

Beef suet is taken from around the cow's kidney.

Beef suet is taken from around the cow’s kidney.

Beef suet

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.

Suet must be rendered for cooking. Put the suet in a frying pan on low heat until it melts. Then pour off the clear liquid fat. Chill it in the fridge till it’s hard and white. Now you can make your dough from your rendered suet.

Or just forget all this and make Vinny’s skinnier version of Spotted Dick, below.


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.

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. Although the calorie count is similar, this version is marginally healthier.DSCN0369_edited

Vinny’s “Skinny” Spotted Dick
6 servings

Get your steamer ready

  1. Use a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. It must be large enough to hold a small, deep heat-resistant pudding bowl.
  2. Put three metal cookie cutters in the pot to hold the bowl off the bottom.
  3. Fill the pot with four inches of water. Heat the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.

Make the pudding

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (spin regular sugar in a food processor if you don’t have any)
  • 1/4 cup oat bran (to up the fiber)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chilled Crisco shortening, cut into small cubes
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries and dried apricots (in total) or the same amount of currents
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. Pulse the five dry ingredients in a food processor until blended (or just whisk or sieve them together).
  2. Add the shortening cubes to the food processor. Pulse six times, just until the shortening is crumbed with the flour. Or do it the old-fashioned way and cut the fat in with two knives.
  3. Dump the contents into a mixing bowl. Gradually work 6 tablespoons of milk into the mix with a fork, just until the dough can be kneaded. Knead until the dough feels slightly sticky.
  4. Knead the fruit into the dough.
  5. Form the dough 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Let the pudding cool in its 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.

Pudding is steaming


This dessert ends up somewhere between a sticky cake and a bread. It isn’t like any “pudding” we might be used to in Canada.

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, and quite rich. Tasty! But a  little goes a long way. Easy to make, but some of the steps are unfamiliar. Easier the second time :).


“Skinny” Spotted Dick, a steamed pudding à la Vinny

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vinny Grette
    Mar 20, 2019 @ 12:17:46

    I am still in favor of limiting saturated fats in the foods I eat. But your comment prompted me to look into the latest fat makeup of various fat options used in baking. Suet has 75% saturated fat and none of the dangerous trans fats. Lard has 40% saturated fat and no trans fats. Crisco has 25% saturated fat and the latest formulations have no trans fats. But even the newest shortenings are highy processed and the health effect of fully hydrogenated fats is still in early stages of study. if I were baking with fat only occasionally, I would probably still use the new shortening products because of its lower saturated fat content (with NO partially hydrogenated fats in the ingredient list). But I can see how the occasional use of suet can also be an option for lovers of the traditional thing. Fat chemistry is complicated and confusing. I wish it weren’t so!


  2. buttery77
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 12:56:28

    Steamed puds are very easy – a good place to start if learning to bake as they can’t really be over-cooked. You can’t go wrong with any combination of carb, sugar and fat in my opinion!

    One thing about suet: in Britain the fat from the suet isn’t rendered down. The fat just gets chopped, grated or minced and that’s it! The actual fatty tissue disappears as the puddings cook. Beef suet is used because it tastes neutral, unlike lard.


    • Vinny Grette
      Jan 24, 2014 @ 14:48:23

      That must be why it tasted OK, then. A little saturated fat doesn’t hurt but all in all I feel better trying to limit it. The veg shortening was pretty neutral too… Thanks for your comment! I’m sure there is nothing like the real thing.


      • Jean
        Mar 20, 2019 @ 11:30:58

        I do hope, all these years later, you have been disabused of the notion that Crisco is a healthier alternative to beef suet.


  3. fsszj
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 12:42:51

    Do you have any great ideas for the traditional English Mushy Peas dish? I found some in a can that I am trying to improve and use them as a side dish. Any suggestions?


    • Vinny Grette
      Apr 30, 2012 @ 14:39:15

      Hmmm – mushy peas are not a favorite here, as they are starchy (high in carbs) and need a lot of tarting up IMHO to be tasty. Even worse than true mushy peas are mushy peas from a can. But if I did have such a can, I would be tempted to try out a minty pea soup flavored with yogurt… or a whole wheat-bread pudding made with canned mushy peas to go along side a chicken (or beef) stew.


  4. Smedette
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 17:07:39

    I’ve always been afraid of screwing up steammed puddings, but I should give it a chance.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!


    • Vinny Grette
      Apr 13, 2012 @ 18:35:34

      If nobody knows just what it IS supposed to taste like, it’s hard to screw up! The steaming part was really pretty easy :). And substituting out the suet didn’t seem to be a problem. I suspect you could use butter just as well.


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