Skip to content

And I’ll have the Spotted Dick. With custard, please.

Spotted dick is a traditional British pudding made from mutton fat mixed with other ingredients, such as baking soda, flour, molasses, corn syrup, or nutmeg. You add raisins or dry fruit to this dough and you have “spots.” The dish is steamed or boiled and served with a custard sauce.


Pouring custard over my awkwardly named dessert

Like Scottish haggis, Spotted Dick is kind of a joke food, especially to Americans. Like haggis, you can also find Spotted Dick in a can (Heinz),making it  a not infrequent gag gift (again, especially for Americans). Unlike haggis, though, in this American opinion, Spotted Dick is really good.

Why such an unappetizing name, then? “Dick” has been described as an abbreviation for dictionary, a policeman, an apron, a riding whip, a corruption of the “ding” in pudding or “dough,” a referral to the German dich (“thick or viscous”), and, lest we avoid it, male genitalia. Americans will usually most certainly turn up their noses at ordering something with that last meaning. After all, at least US restaurants offering Rocky Mountain oysters have the decency to label bulls’ testicles “oysters.”

But, the Spotted Dick I ordered recently was really just a sweet little spice cake with lots of raisins. As I happen to really like spice cake and raisins, I was enthusiastic about this dish at the friendly King Edward Restaurant by the sea. The waitress took my order with nary a smirk.

The dick itself was a lovely, hot-out-of-the-oven spice cake baked in a small mold, drizzled with caramel sauce, and accompanied with a pitcher of creamy, yellow custard. I smothered the dick in the custard.

I could have further forced the whole issue by ordering Spotted Dick at Moby Dick’s, a pub that’s down the street from the King Edward. But back home we couldn’t even name a new mountain bike trail “Moby Dick” (in reference to the nearby Whale formation) because of the innuendo. At home, I would just have to say, “Could I please have the spice cake with caramel sauce?”

Here are the ingredients and directions if you’d like to try this at home.

1 ¼ cup unsalted butter

1 ½ cup sugar

2 unit eggs

3 unit egg yolks (so, I think you’re dealing with 5 eggs altogether here)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup sour cream

1 cup currants

¼ cup sherry

¼ cup rum

unit icing sugar, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

2. Line two 8” round pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, soak currants in the sherry and rum. Set aside.

5. In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar.

6. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. Once combined, alternate adding flour mixture and the sour cream.

7. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in soaked currants.

8. Fill prepared cake pans with batter and bake for 30-40 minutes, checking after 30 with a toothpick.

9. Cool and top with icing sugar.

I’m not at home to bake one of these, but every forkful that evening at the King Edward was cinnamony and nutmeggy, sweet, and succulent. You can’t go too wrong with a custard-smothered Spotted Dick, except perhaps with its name.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *