Learn how to make spotted dick with our easy-to-follow guide. From steaming to storing, making this British classic is simple.
Filled with raisins and sultanas, spotted dick is a nostalgic, retro pudding that has been around for years. Although steamed puddings go back centuries, it's believed that the first spotted dick recipe was published in the 1849 cookbook The Modern Housewife or Ménagère by celebrity chef Alexis Soyer.
There are a number of theories as to how spotted dick got its name. The most plausible is that 'spotted' refers to the dried fruit in the pud that gives it a spotted appearance. 'Dick' derives from 'puddick' – a corruption of the word 'pudding'.
Often spotted dick can get confused for bread pudding (opens in new tab) or bread and butter pudding (opens in new tab) which are both made with raisins and sultanas however both are made mainly with bread. Spotted dick is traditionally made with shredded suet.
Making a spotted dick from scratch is much simpler than you may think. In this article, we look at what equipment is needed to make one, how to cook it in the microwave as well as how to cook it in a slow cooker too.
Do you need special equipment to make spotted dick? How to make spotted dick Can you cook spotted dick in the oven? How to cook spotted dick in the microwave Can you cook spotted dick in a slow cooker? Storing leftover spotted dick How to serve spotted dick
Do you need special equipment to make spotted dick?
If you want to cook spotted dick the traditional way you’ll want to steam it. To steam a pudding you will need either a pan specifically for steaming or you can use a wire rack that can be put at the base of a heavy-set pan that has a tight-fitting lid.
You will also need tin foil, baking parchment, and most importantly, the pudding basin, pot, or tin you're choosing to bake your spotted dick in. We have chosen a traditional stoneware pudding basin.
How to make spotted dick
With a soft suet sponge and sweet bursts of sultanas throughout, spotted dick gets its lovely soft texture from being steamed. This keeps the sponge moist and springy.
If you fancy experimenting, you could use chocolate chips instead of sultanas. Or, if you’re a fruit fan, add in some extra dried cranberries or glace cherries for an even sweeter flavour. Our recipe serves four to six people.
- 250g self-raising flour
- 125g shredded suet
- 90g caster sugar
- 125g sultanas
- Rind of ½ a lemon
- Custard or golden syrup, to serve
How to make spotted dick: Step 1
Decide how to cook the pudding before you start. Steam the dough once it’s been wet-mixed – don't leave it sitting while you find a suitable pan. If you don’t have a large enough steamer, place it on a wire rack in the base of a pan that has a tight-fitting lid, so the bowl won’t be sitting directly on the pan base.
How to make spotted dick: Step 2
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the suet, sugar, and sultanas. Finely grate over the lemon rind, taking just the zest off the lemon and not the white pith.
How to make spotted dick: Step 3
Add about 150ml water and mix to give a soft dropping consistency, taking care not to stir it too much or it will develop a heavy consistency.
How to make spotted dick: Step 4
Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin and level the surface.
How to make spotted dick: Step 5
Cover the bowl with baking parchment, with a pleat in it to allow room for the pudding to expand. Cut the paper so it hangs just over the rim of the bowl. Then cover the bowl with a sheet of foil with a pleat in it and scrunch it around the rim to seal.
How to make spotted dick: Step 6
Place the bowl in a steamer or on a rack in a pan. Pour boiling water around it to come about two-thirds up the sides. Put a lid on the pan. Check the water regularly to make sure that the pan doesn’t boil dry.
Cook it for about 2 hrs or until it springs back when lightly pressed. Remove the bowl from the steamer and leave for a couple of minutes to cool. Turn it out onto a warmed serving plate. Serve with custard or golden syrup, and enjoy.
For more tips on how to steam a pudding (opens in new tab) take a look at our handy guide on all you need to know about steaming a pudding including equipment and where to buy pudding basins.
Can you cook spotted dick in the oven?
You can opt for cook spotted dick in the oven. Some chefs think that cooking it this way changes the texture of the pudding if you bake it rather than steam it but it's the perfect option if you don't have a steamer or the right equipment to steam the pudding.
If you choose the baking method spoon the dough into a baking tin that's large enough so it leaves 2-3 cm for the pudding to expand. Cover with greased foil and bake for around 35-45 minutes at 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
If you'd like to steam the pud in the oven:
- Fill a roasting tin with hot water half-way and place a metal rack on top.
- Put the covered pudding on the rack. Cover the pudding in a foil 'tent' to capture steam and cook for around 1hr 30 minutes to 1hr 45 minutes on medium heat (180°C/350°F/gas 4).
- Check the water while it's cooking and top up if required.
Can you cook spotted dick in the microwave?
Cooking spotted dick in the microwave is a really quick method that is handy if you're short on time. To cook spotted dick in the microwave:
- Pour the dough into a pudding basin until it's two-thirds full and loosely fit clingfilm on top (this allows steam to escape).
- Microwave for just 4-5 minutes on full. When it's ready it will be slightly dry on top. If you're doing smaller, individual puddings reduce the cooking time to 2-3 minutes.
Can you cook spotted dick in a slow cooker?
If you have a slow cooker you can use one to cook this pud. Fill the cooker with enough water to come half-way up your covered pudding basin, then steam for around 3 hours on high.
How to store leftover spotted dick
Because the dough has active ingredients you should cook the pudding as soon as you've prepared it.
If you can't finish this hearty pud once cooked then cover the leftovers in clingfilm and store them in the fridge. Leftover spotted dick should last for a couple of days but may become drier over time. You can reheat it once more but not any more than that. Try warming it up in the microwave until it's hot.
Alternatively, cut into slices and pan-fry in a little butter. Serve with custard, cream, or golden syrup for an indulgent dessert.
You can also freeze spotted dick in an airtight container once cooked and cooled completely. Gently reheat when you want to eat it on medium heat in the microwave.
How to serve spotted dick
If you're not keen on those options you can serve spotted dick with single or whipped cream, or with our quick and easy no-churn vanilla ice cream (opens in new tab).
As spotted dick is such a tasty pud it is perfectly served simply on its own.
Former Assistant Headteacher, Samuel has a BSc in Food from the University of Birmingham and is also Co-Vice Chair of the Guild of Food Writers and a Trustee of 91 Ways CIC. His work has featured in national and international publications including Waitrose Food, Australian Delicious, and the LAD Bible Group. Samuel has also consulted on a number of best-selling food and drink books, and was a nutritional consultant for BBC’s Eat Well for Less.