Spotted Dick with Orange Brandy Sauce - Daring Bakers April 2010

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.

When I saw the challenge, I was actually looking forward to it! You see, I have a humongous crush on all things British; from their oh-to-die-for accent to Hugh Laurie to their authors to well.. whatever else.. When I confess that I ordered my Harry Potter collection from Amazon UK because I liked the British book jackets better, you get my obsession, don't you?!

Recently, I read Wolf Hall (2009 Booker Prize winner) which given my infatuation with medieval England was the perfect book for me! The book mentions a couple of recipes that sounded soo good and I immediately went on a search of medieval English cookbooks.

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I found a few online and bought one titled "Medieval Home Companion - Housekeeping in the Fourteenth century" - interesting book with eye-catching chapter titles like "Take Your Chickens and Cut Their Throats"; that's how it introduces the recipe for stuffed chicken... And, some really weird advice for household stuff, like "How to make cages birds lay eggs, sit on them and raise their young"!!!!!

Anyway, good fun read on what people of those times did and stuff and a couple of interesting recipes..

So, back to the pudding. The challenge was to a. use suet and b. cook by steaming. I could not find beef suet but then, I realised I had vegetable suet (hydrogenated palm oil) on hand! So, I made batch 1 with that and an authentic old medieval recipe I dug up somewhere. Err.. well, that did not happen at all! Take 2 - I used the suet in the modern recipe only to realise that the suet had gone bad!

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Finally, I did the final take with butter and the modern recipe. So, it was raisins and orange steamed pudding served with an orange brandy sauce.

Verdict: I must confess, I was disappointed. The "pudding" was sponge like and perfectly cooked but a bit too crumbly for my liking. Given the long cooking time, I was not too taken by the end result. Perhaps, I should make a steak and kidney pudding and taste test that one!

Spotted Dick Pudding

(adapted from

1/4 cup dried raisins, soaked in 1 T of brandy
1 tsp grated orange zest
3/4 cup flour
1 stick cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/5 cup sugar
1/2 T baking powder
3-4 T milk

Sift together the dry ingredients. Cut butter into the flour mixture until you get a crumbly mixture. Add the zest and raisins. Stir in the milk and knead into a dough ball. It will be slightly sticky.

Butter the pudding mould generously and transfer the dough into it. Smooth the top and cover with a round of wax paper. Cover tightly with foil pleated in the center to allow for expansion. Steam for about an hour or until golden and puffed.

Cool for a few minutes. Remove from mould and serve with orange-brandy sauce.

Orange Brandy Sauce

1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 T sugar
1/2 T corn starch
1 T brandy
1 T butter

In a small sauce pan, heat the orange juice, sugar and corn starch until the mixture starts to thicken. Melt the butter into it. Once it is thick enough, remove from heat and stir in the brandy.