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A Pudding by Any other Name

‘Bless me,’ cried Jack, with a loving look at its glistening, faintly translucent sides, ‘a spotted dog!’
The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brien

Spotted Dick, ever a favorite pudding through the years, has as much a spotted history as complexion. As for the name, it’s a case of the chicken and the egg. Known to have been served in Britain for over 200 years, this sweet cakey, currenty treat was a favorite of Captin Jack Aubrey, hero of the Patrick O’Brien novels. Legends trace it back to England, and even Ireland (where it is called Sweet Cake, Curnie Cake or Railway Cake). As old as Christmas Pudding, itself, one has to wonder, where did the name come from?

Is it, as someone has suggested, a derivation of Spotted Pudding? That theory holds that “Pudding” was shortened to “Puddink”, from there to “Puddick” and then just “Dick.” Other histories call it Spotted Dog, and while this may be editing on behalf of good taste, it makes sense. The Dalmation Club of America states that:

The [Dalmation’s] first case of public popularity occurred in England [in the 18th century]. It is suggested that having been brought by gypsies and used as clowns, performers, guardians and companions, the public recognized the intelligence of the breed and became an instant hit with all who saw them. Through the years the Dalmatian has had many nicknames among the British people. A few of these are the English Coach Dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Fire House Dog, and even the Spotted Dick.

Was the pudding named for the its resemblance to the Dog, spots and all? Was the dog named for the pudding? We may never know, but it seems that their histories are somehow intertwined.

Whatever the case, this pudding is a delicious treat, perfect for a cold winter’s day.

Spotted Dick

  • 8 ounces flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 4 ounces raisins or dried currants
  • 6 tablespoons water

Mix together flour and salt, then blend in the butter.

Add sugar and raisins and mix thoroughly.

Roll into a log or ball.

Grease some aluminum  foil and seal it around the roll.

Roll into a steamer and steam for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with powdered sugar, butter or custard sauce.

Ready to serve puddings and instant mixes are also available in some areas.

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