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 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.
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 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
- Pulse the five dry ingredients in a food processor until blended (or just whisk or sieve them together).
- 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.
- 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.
- Knead the fruit into the dough.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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 :).