Spotted WHAT?

Although I generally don’t post an Andy’s Corner for lagniappe blogs,  Ann’s “pecker” story leaves me no choice but to follow up with another British term that can be, let’s say, awkward.  This takes us back to 2010 when Ann and I travelled to England along with her cousin Janet and Janet’s husband, Darrell, and their two teenaged grandkids for a self-navigated “narrowboat” canal trip

Narrowboats, which are on average less than 7 feet wide, are designed to fit the narrow locks of the British canal system (actually, the history of this canal system is quite interesting in itself).  However,  while narrow may be an advantage for navigating the locks, it does less for those navigating the potential stormy waters of family togetherness.  And a 7-day journey chugging slowly though the English countryside is enough to test the mettle of any family unit.


Evan and Isaac, our canal lock openers and closers.

Initially we were concerned that the two teenage boys (who are cousins) would be bored stiff being trapped in close quarters with 4 grandparent-aged companions.  Turns out that they had a great time and, more important, were happy to manually open and close the 92 locks we had to negotiate on our journey.


During the cruise we always looked forward to our stops for meals or snacks from among the many colorful canal-side pubs.  It was at one of these pubs that the boys (and adults for that matter) came head to head with some shocking British culinary terminology.

Spotted Dick menu item circled

As we walked into this particular pub, hoping for something sweet to snack on, we eyed the dessert menu on the wall.  I don’t know who spotted it first, but we all did a double take at the “Traditional Spotted Dick” entry.   We struggled to act nonchalant in front of the bar keeper, and somehow managed to stifle our snickers and keep calm.  Of course the boys had to have an order of whatever spotted dick would turn out to be – if for no other reason than to tell their friends back home about it.  Needless to say big guffaws filled our little boat when we got back on board.

So what is Spotted Dick?  It’s a traditional British steamed pudding, often with currents.  Wikipedia says this about the name –

While “spotted” is a clear reference to the dried fruit in the pudding (which resemble spots), “dick” and “dog” were dialectal terms widely used for pudding, from the same etymology as “dough” (i.e., the modern equivalent name would be “spotted pudding”).

I didn’t have the nerve to try it those ten years ago, but putting together this blog motivated me to try to make my own right here in Glen Ellen.  The recipe is below.

As a cautionary note, to minimize uncontrollable giggling at your table it is recommended to include only consenting adults.  Even then, I can’t guarantee that there will not be some snickers.


spotted dick and ono

Spotted Dick and our bemused cat, Ono

Spotted Dick

We slightly adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart. Traditional recipes call for suet; we prefer butter because of its availability and taste. 

  • 3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more softened for pudding mold
  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 c currants
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 c whole milk
  • vanilla ice cream (or custard sauce if you want to be authentic) for serving

Grease a 2 quart pudding mold with butter.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until pieces are no larger than small peas. Stir in sugar, lemon zest, and currants. Stir in lemon juice, then eggs and milk; stir until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared mold.  Snap lid onto mold. Set mold on a rack in very large pot. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the mold.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat until the water is at a simmer.  Cover the pot and steam pudding, maintaining water at a simmer until tester inserted in center of mold comes out clean, about 2 hours.

Place pudding mold on a wire rack. Let cool 10 minutes. If needed, run a knife around edge of bowl to loosen; invert pudding onto a serving plate.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or custard sauce.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.




  1. Helen says:

    Yea Andy, I also want to know how your spotted dick is. When we were kids & I called you a dick. I really didn’t know what I was saying. He he he. (That’s English for ha ha ha. )


  2. tricia53 says:

    Great lagniappe posts! Yours reminds me of our Tallahassee pastor’s Scottish wife’s story of her first year or so in the U.S., when she would tell parishioners she was planning to “pop by and knock you up.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: