Now, let's not be juvenile. Like another traditional British dish, spotted dick gets a bad rap on account of its somewhat embarrassing name. It is, however, a delicious and culturally important staple of British culture--whether from the kitchen or the can--referenced in novels from Agatha Christie to J.K. Rowling.
We're not quite sure where the name comes from, but the "spots" are certainly the lovely bits of dried fruit that are always a part of this traditional pudding. The other part may be a corruption of the word "dog," or just a variation on the last syllable of "pudding." Read more on this topic from www.StraightDope.com.
No matter where the strange name came from, this dish is well known and appreciated all over Britain. It's a suet pudding spotted with dried fruit, and which fruits are used is completely up to the cook. The most traditional versions include currants or raisins (sultanas), but apricots and dates are also acceptable substitutes. The pudding can be steamed, boiled, or baked, but steaming produces an especially rich, velvety texture. The steaming process can take quite a while, but it's sure to be worth it!
|Photo credit www.Essentially-England.com|
SUET CRUST INGREDIENTS:
- 225g / 8oz flour
- 75-100g / 3-4 oz suet (skin removed and finely shredded)
- 2 tsp baking powder (omit if using self-raising flour)
- 1 tsp salt
- cold water
- If using block suet, remove skin and shred finely. If using packet suet, weigh out quantity required and follow instructions on the packet.
- Sieve flour, baking powder (if using) and salt together and add the suet.
- Mix with cold water to a soft, but not sticky dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll out as required.
- 1 quantity suet crust pastry
- 150g (6oz) dried fruit of your choice
- 3 tbsp orange or lemon juice
- a little freshly grated lemon or orange rind
- Soak your dried fruit and grated lemon or orange rind in the juice until the juice is gone and the fruit are plump.
- If you're using dates or apricots or prunes or any other large-ish fruit, chop them thoroughly.
- Roll out your pastry into a rough rectangle and spread one third of the dried fruit over the surface.
- Fold the pastry in half and roll out again to the previous size. Add the second third of dried fruit. Fold and roll again. Add the last third of fruit and repeat once more.
- Then roll up the pastry into a long sausage shape.
- Butter a sheet of grease-proof paper, place the pastry on it and wrap loosely, leaving space for the pudding to expand a little.
- Wrap next into a muslin cloth or pudding sleeve before placing the whole into a steamer and steam over simmering water for about one hour.
- Unwrap and serve with custard!
Brit-Bit: This pudding could be called "plummy" even though there's never been a plum near it! Why? Because "plummy" can mean "full of plums" or it can mean "choice" or "desirable."