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Spotted Dick

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A bowl of spotted dick and custard.

Anyone contributing to (or using) a guide like h2g2 must, by definition, be something of a traditionalist. Any encyclopaedic effort carries with it the implication that information should be frozen in place; partly to clarify things as they are at the time of writing; but more importantly, to make researching them later render the same result and meaning. Once people agree on the meaning of a word, and it becomes a dictionary entry, it is too late to try and appropriate the word for other purposes without ignoring or perverting the original definition.

This preamble would be out of place on a recipe card, but tradition is being assaulted once again as - at this writing - at least one food store is refusing to properly name the confection affectionately known as 'Spotted Dick'. They refer to it as 'Spotted Richard'; both a perversion of the original name and not inconsequentially, an insult to everyone named Richard.

To preserve tradition, this venerable confection's traditional name is now recorded, forevermore, on this h2g2 website.

Note: This recipe, as with most other recipes, has many variations - both inclusive and exclusive of ingredients - and this in no way is meant to represent either the only correct recipe, or a stifling of creativity and diversity of recipe interpretation.

Spotted Dick - A traditional English Dessert, with a Custard Sauce

(A steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit)

The Dough (dick)

This should be a suet1 dough, though many recipes leave out the suet, and may substitute 4 oz margarine.

8 oz of self-raising flour
    -- If you are not using self-raising flour, add 1 tablespoon baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of salt
6 oz of shredded or finely chopped, rendered suet
    -- To render, cook suet over a moderately low heat, for about 20 minutes, until it is melted and clear and cracklings are golden.
Run it through a sieve into a bowl, and cool.
Chill until it is firm and white.
    -- Covered and chilled, it will keep for a week.
0 to 6 oz of white-bread breadcrumbs (one of the many variables)
4 oz of sugar: caster, extra-fine, superfine, or 10x
4 to 6 oz combined sultanas2, raisins3, or currants4 (other dried fruit can be substituted according to taste and/or allergies)
1 lemon rind, grated or zested
5 to 10 tablespoons of milk or water - normally about 10 tbsp milk for a recipe this size.
Combine the flour, sugar, (baking powder, and salt) in a mixing bowl or food processor.
Add the shredded suet until the mixture resembles coarse-ground meal.
Add the breadcrumbs, dried fruits, and grated or zested lemon, and stir.
In a bowl (not the food processor), drizzle in the milk and stir with a fork until incorporated. Knead until a slightly sticky dough is formed.
Roll the dough into a cylinder (it should still be slightly sticky).
Wrap in a single layer of foil, brushed with butter (or a double thickness of greaseproof paper), and seal. An alternate version calls for wrapping the dough in cheesecloth.
Traditionally, the dough should be steamed for 1.5 - 2.0 hours, and the cheesecloth version is boiled in water for about the same period.

The Custard Sauce

2 cups whole milk
9 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
Bring milk to a boil in a 3 or 4 quart, heavy saucepan; remove from heat.
Beat yolks, sugar, and the pinch of salt in a mixing bowl and whisk the hot milk in a slow stream.
Pour back into the pan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened (77°C [170°F] would be good).
Pour through a fine sieve into a pitcher.
Covered and chilled, it will keep for two days.
Serve warm.
Makes up to ten servings.

Alternate Endings

Although this recipe requires custard, this confection is often enjoyed with either milk and sugar or golden syrup.

As a courtesy to those on a diet, the low calorie version simply replaces all ingredients with either broccoli or cauliflower. The step in which the milk is brought to the boil is skipped, and the steaming time is reduced to 20 minutes or until tender.

For the vegetarians out there, carrot cake dough might be sweet enough to work, and there is vegetable 'shredded suet' available made from '... hydrogenated palm oil, wheat flour, sunflower oil, stabiliser (E440), sugar, (63% hydrogenated vegetable oil and vegetable oil)'.

1A type of hard fat used in cooking which is taken from around the kidneys of animals such as sheep and cows.2Small raisins. Seedless, sweet, pale gold in colour and from the green seedless Sultana grape that comes mainly from Turkey.3Dried white grapes usually of the 'Muscatel' variety.4Dried black seedless grapes originally produced in Greece.

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