​Spotted Dick: A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

​Spotted Dick: A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

Posted by Emma on 27th Nov 2023

Have you ever wondered about the story behind Spotted Dick? Grab a cuppa and a slice of spotted dick, and let's find out how it came to be.

portion of spotted dick with custard

Remember when life was simpler, and dessert was the ultimate comfort? Well, Spotted Dick was right there with us, offering warm, sweet solace. This British classic isn't just a dessert; it's a cherished piece of our past.

Let's start with the name, shall we? Yep, it's got a funny moniker, and it's been known to make folks chuckle. Some even try to rename it, but come on, "Spotted Richard" just doesn't have the same ring to it!

Now, about that "spotted" part – it's as obvious as day. It's those plump, juicy sultanas that give this pud its signature spots. But when it comes to the "dick," well, that's where things get a tad mysterious. Some say it's related to "dough," but we're not entirely convinced. We like The Straight Dope's theory - it might just come from "pudding," or maybe "puddink," or even "puddick." Who knows? The history is as quirky as the dessert itself!


The earliest known recipe for Spotted Dick dates back to 1845, tucked away in Alexis Soyer's "A Shilling Cookery for The People." Picture this: flour, suet, currants, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and milk, all cosy in a cloth and boiled to perfection. But just five years later, Soyer decided to shake things up with a rolled dough spread with a delectable paste, still boiled, of course.

According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the original Spotted Dick was a flat sheet of dough smothered with sugar and raisins, rolled into a log of sugary goodness. And let's not forget "spotted dog," a close cousin with suet paste rolled up, raisins, currants, and sugar proudly adorning the outside.

But why "dick" and not something else? Well, that's the fun part of language, my friends! In the 1840s, "dick" meant hard cheese. Throw some treacle sauce into the mix, and you've got "treacle dick." Add currants or raisins (looking like spots), and there you have it - the beloved Spotted Dick.

Fast forward to the late 1800s, and we find ourselves with cherished recipes for this delightful dessert. Traditionally, it was boiled in a cloth, but nowadays, we're more inclined to bake it.

Now, if you've ever ventured to Ireland, you'll find a slightly different twist. Back in the late 1800s, yeast-bread wasn't their jam, so they whipped up soda bread using bicarbonate of soda and an acid. In Ireland, Spotted Dick takes on a sweet soda bread form, generously sprinkled with sugar, currants, and raisins. They call it the "spotted dog" or "railway cake." A delicious twist on an old favourite!

So, here's to Spotted Dick - a dessert that tickles our taste buds and warms our hearts with memories of simpler times. Have you ever savoured this classic British treat? Share your own nostalgic tales or unique twists on the recipe in the comments below. Let's keep the Spotted Dick stories rolling!"