Spotted Dick Is the Cozy British Dessert You Need This Winter
Get past the name and learn how to make this fabulous steamed pudding.
While we're all for a post-holiday reset, sometimes we still need a little comfort food. Enter spotted dick, a steamed pudding that's just the thing for the doldrums of winter. If you're not British, your only familiarity with the dish might be from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" or the Harry Potter books, but it's one of the most popular desserts in the U.K. As for the peculiar name? The "spotted" refers to the spots of dried fruit throughout the pudding, typically raisins or currants. The latter half of the phrase has murkier origins. Some food historians say "dick" is derived from "puddick," Old English for pudding. Others believe the name comes from the dessert's resemblance to a spotted dog, as dogs were often called "Dick" in Old England. Since it's now a source of amusement for diners, the dessert also goes by the name spotted dog or spotted Richard.
Spotted dick is traditionally made with suet (beef fat) and shaped into a cylinder, but Martha uses butter and goes with the now more common bowl shape. She also soaks the currants in brandy first. The result is a light sponge cake-like pudding bursting with flavor. Spotted dick isn't the only delicious British dessert in Martha's repertoire. For the season premiere of "Martha Bakes," she's also making flaky, buttery Eccles cakes, and with the assistance of guest Helen Goh (the talented baker behind the Ottolenghi restaurants in London), a marvelous Moroccan fruitcake. Check out the recipes below, and be sure to tune in this weekend.
The pudding is best served warm on a pool of crème anglaise, a silky custard sauce flecked with vanilla.
Named for the town of Eccles in Lancashire, England, these sweet treats date back to the 17th century. They're more of a round, flat pastry than a traditional cake, typically with a currant filling. Martha's version calls for a half-moon shape and swaps out the currants for a flavorful mixture of raisins, figs, and dates.
What makes this fruitcake a nod to Morocco? The addition of the spice blend ras el hanout in the batter, an ingenious twist by Goh. Schmear a slice with your favorite salted butter and enjoy.
"Martha Bakes" season 11 airs on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).