The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of  The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

This was a fun challenge to make! I have used lard in pastry crust before and they really  made a big difference in texture and taste.  I thought suet is the same but I was told they were different.  For this challenge, I used the vegetable suet version from Atora which I got from a local store in San Diego selling grocery items from the UK. My local butcher didn’t have suet (at least not in time for me to make the challenge before I left for a trip) but I would have loved to try these pudding next time using the real thing.

Years ago, I was introduced to this oddly-named dessert at a pub in London. My husband and I were killing time at Harrod’s (or maybe just me…LOL) and we found this quaint pub right across the street.  As I was reading the menu on the board, I happen upon one called a SPOTTED DICK. I’m sure my giggles did not surprise the pub owner while I placed my order.  I did not ask what it was, wasn’t even sure it was a dessert.  Just ordered it, wanting to be surprised. Darn, the pudding was good!!  Served as a slice from a roll, filled with brandy-soaked currants  and drizzled with warm devon cream, I was pleasantly surprised.  I have seen many different versions of this pudding,  some with nuts, peel, dried grapes and they were all good.   This month’s challenge brought back those memories so I decided to make both the savory and sweet version of this traditional British pudding.

For the savory version, I made  STEAK AND ONION pudding and of course, a SPOTTED DICK for the sweet version.  I steamed both using a small mixing bowl and a soup bowl.  Here are the recipes provided by the host.



Pudding Crust for both Savoury Pudding or Sweet Pudding (using suet or a suet substitute):


(250 grams/12 ounces) Self-raising flour (Note* If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
(175 grams/6 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(a pinch) Salt and pepper (Note* If making a savory dish, can be replaced with spices for sweet if wished.)
(210 millilitres/a little less than a cup) Water (Note* You can use a milk or a water and milk mix for a richer pastry.)

1. Mix the flour and suet together.

2. Season the flour and suet mixture with salt and pepper if savory and just a bit of salt and/or spices if sweet.

3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. The liquid amounts are only an estimate and most recipes just say water to mix.  Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
4. Reserve a quarter for the lid and roll out the rest and line a well-greased bowl.
5. At this point add your filling.. a couple of options are give below but have fun and go wild!
6. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and put in position on the pudding, pinching the edges together to seal.
7. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
8. Steam for up to 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often. There is a lot of leeway in this steaming time and different recipes give different steaming times. Delia Smith says 5 hours for Steak and kidney where as Mrs Beeton says 2.5 for a similar dish! One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown. It is also hard to over steam a pudding so you can leave it bubbling away until you are ready.


Steak and Onion Pudding

1 full amount of suet crust (see recipe above)
(450 grams/about 1 pound) Chuck steak
(225 grams/about 1/2 a pound) Ox kidney (I omitted this part and just used steak pieces)
1 medium-sized onion (I added about 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley as well)
2 teaspoons well-seasoned flour (flour with pepper and a pinch of dry mustard)
splash of Worcestershire sauce  (I also added a splash of Madeira wine  with the  water to add flavor to the gravy. )


1. Chop the steak and kidney into fairly small cubes, toss them in seasoned flour, then add them to the pastry lined basin.
2. Pop the onion slices in here and there.
3. Add enough cold water to reach almost to the top of the meat (I used Madeira wine, or red wine if preferred. Make sure you add enough liquid or the pudding will be dry as in my photo which obviously did not have enough gravy! It should have gooey, drippy gravy coming out of the slice when cut….yummmm!) and sprinkle in a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper.
4. Follow the rest of the instructions in the crust recipe to finish pudding.
5. Cook for at least 2.5 hours (Mrs Beeton) up to 5 hours (Delia Smith).


SPOTTED DICK (sponge type steamed suet pudding)

(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk

75 grams dried currants pre-soaked in brandy


1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk.  Add currants and mix thoroughly using a spatula.
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.

I used Bird’s custard sauce following the recipe from the can.

Thank you, Esther, for a wonderful experience!!


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» Joy said: { Apr 27, 2010 - 12:04 }

I like the spotted dick looks good. I too keeps giggling when I read, type, or say it outloud.

» jenn (Bread + Butter) said: { Apr 27, 2010 - 12:04 }

I’d be intimidated if i were to make something like this. Though, I’d be interested in try in the ox kidney. I just barely got into liver. hahaha…

» outoftheoven said: { Apr 27, 2010 - 01:04 }

Both of your puddings look like they were very successful! Great job on the challenge!

» Kim said: { Apr 27, 2010 - 02:04 }

Those look so pretty! I love how the custard is dribbling down the spotted dick. I made a version of that as well and still chuckle a bit at the name of the pudding. Great job on your challenge!

» sheba said: { Apr 27, 2010 - 06:04 }

Both the puddings looks darn good..great great photos…

» Audax Artifex said: { Apr 28, 2010 - 01:04 }

WOW I’m impressed by you fine efforts and superb results and the photos are wonderful well done on this challenge. And most people make extra gravy for the steak and kidney pudding and some even place some more gravy (via a small hole in the pastry) into the pudding before serving. Your pastry has a gorgeous colour. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

» Wolf said: { May 5, 2010 - 02:05 }

Lovely photos! They look delicious!

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