Spotted dog

This is really just spotted dick in disguise. The author of the recipe, (I can't see who it is now because I tore it out of a newspaper and tore off the byline), I remember, included a long preamble about how embarrassing the name 'Spotted Dick' was.

I don't think it's embarrassing, I think it's quite funny and sweet - a old-fashioned name for something from 1850 (the year the phrase "Spotted Dick" was first used) when Dick didn't mean dick. Or maybe it did, but they didn't mind so much that they had to find another name for it.

The author also, I think, made some changes to the recipe so that it was internally distinct from a Spotted Dick but I can't now remember what they were. Perhaps a Spotted Dick afficiondo can point them out to me.

In the meantime, here is the recipe for Spotted Dog I did on Saturday. I had never made a steamed pudding before and it could have gone wrong in any number of ways - but it was really, really fun and delicious and a total doddle. Anyone who quite likes messing around in a kitchen will get a thrill out of making a string handle for the pudding basin and lifting it out of the boiling water at the end of the cooking time.

By 3.30pm on Saturday, making custard was a bridge too far, so it was served with cream, but another time, under less pressure, I'd make the effort.

Spotted Dog

25g butter for buttering the basin
2 tbsp golden syrup
125g raisins
125g currants
2 tbsp brandy or whisky
225g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
75g butter for the mixture
50g suet (I used vegetarian suet for my Pescetarian, which worked fine)
2 eggs
1 litre/2 pint pudding basin
foil and string

1 Generously butter the pudding basin with your 25g of soft butter. Spoon 1tbsp golden syrup into the bottom (although if I was doing this recipe again, I'd use 2 tbsp here)
2 Put the raisins, currants, brandy or whisky, 1 tbsp golden syrup and 1 tbsp water into a pan and cook gently, stirring as it all heats up and smells very fruity and boozy. Put a lid on and cook for 10 mins. Then remove the lid and cook for 2 more mins until the fruit is bouncy with liquid.
3 Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the 75g butter into the flour and rub in until it's crumbly, like pastry dough.
4 Add the suet and mix thoroughly.
5 Whisk up the eggs and make the mixture up to 150ml with milk
6 Stir the fruit into the flour and add the egg gradually, use a knife to mix into the dough until it's cake-mix like and damp
7 Turn it into your buttered basin and smooth the top or give it a jiggle to even out the top (although my top was very uneven and it sorted itself out during boiling.
8 drape a large-ish piece of foil over the top of the basin, making a sort of small tented peak or ridge in the middle. Then wrap the string twice around the basin, under the lip and tie off. Then make a handle by tying another piece of string from one side of the basin to the other, secured to the string wrapped round the middle, so that you can lift it out of the boiling water. Frankly, this isn't really that neccessary as you could just lift it out with a pair of oven gloves. But it's FUN and looks cool and you'll feel like it's 1850, so I say go for it.
9 Put the pudding in a large pan with a lid that fits and pour boiling water 2/3ds up the side of the basin. Boil for 2 hours, remembering if you can to check the water level after 40 mins and top up with more water if neccessary.

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