This Slow Cooker Steamed Spotted Dick Pudding is a traditional British dessert dating back hundreds of years. Our recipe produces an incredibly light, sweet, and comforting pudding with fresh lemon notes and amazingly no suet, eggs, or butter is necessary! Enjoy a delicious bowl of spotted dick pudding with hot custard, chilled cream, or a drizzle of warmed up golden or maple syrup.
Spotted dick is a traditional family favourite with an unusual name! But it is simply an old British term which means spotted pudding - with raisins or currants giving the steamed sponge the classic spotty appearance!
📜 Origins Of British spotted dick pudding
Spotted dick pudding is also historically known as spotted dog pudding (Scotland) or railway/sweet cake (Ireland) and originated sometime during, but more likely before, the British Victorian era when steamed puddings were very popular.
This classic steamed pudding has a rather unusual name but the word dick is simply an old English word meaning dough or pudding and the spotted name refers to the currants or raisins that give this pudding the spotty appearance.
In olden English times puddings could be referred to as a puddick or puddog so it is easy to see where the less than charming name spotted dick comes from!
The main ingredients for traditional English spotted dick pudding is beef suet (fat), flour, dried fruit most commonly currants or raisins, sugar, and with many recipes calling for lemon zest or cinnamon. Animal based suet is a hard shelf-staple saturated fat that originates from sheep and cow kidneys.
🍮 Slow Cooker Spotted Dick Pudding
Our slow cooker spotted dick pudding is suet-free, egg-free, and dairy-free yet no-one will know the difference! Instead we use margarine that is suitable for baking - such as Flora or Stork baking spread - which are also vegan- friendly. As well as apple sauce and milk - we like to use either oat milk or soya milk but really any type of milk will do so go with your usual type.
Although there is a vegetable suet available [Atora Vegetable Suet or Suma vegan suet] we choose to go with margarine as an inexpensive alternative as suet prices have risen in the UK. Using margarine does not affect the texture of the finished spotted dick as it is so light with a delicious moist crumb. Although vegetable suet is shelf stable so it is a useful ingredient to have in the pantry so if you find any reduced price ones do snap them up for future tasty puddings.
Another reason we choose to use margarine as opposed to suet was that outwith the UK other countries, such as the US, home-cooks may struggle to source suet as an ingredient and we wanted our pudding ingredients to be accessible.
Using margarine results in a light pudding that is not heavy or stodgy although it will more than aptly satisfy any cravings for a classic stodgy pudding!
Even though spotted dick is traditionally steamed in a large pot within a pudding bowl or wrapped in a cloth and boiled in the pot, the slow cooker is just as good and is arguably better if taking the cost of electricity into consideration.
Also by steaming in the slow cooker there will be much less steam and humidity released into the kitchen which can only be a good thing especially in wet climates.
It is traditional to sprinkle the spotted dick pudding with a little sugar whilst it is still hot and before being sliced.
It is also traditional to melt butter over the pudding but our pudding is delicious enough so doesn’t need any extra fat but of course you can give it a go if liked.
Golden syrup gently warmed up in a pot and poured over a steamed pudding was very popular during the 1940s and 50’s. Any syrup can be warmed up including maple syrup.
🥣 How To Prepare
For this recipe we use apple sauce which can be any type of apple sauce - shop-bought from a jar or tub - or home-made by stewing chopped apples in a little water and mashing. The apple sauce does not flavour the pudding so there is no strong apple flavour - it just helps bind the ingredients and adds a nice moisture to the crumb.
Step 1: Cream the margarine and sugar together either with a mixing spoon or with an electric cake mix.
Step 2: stir through the apple sauce, and then add the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and raisins or dried currants.
Step 3: Mix everything together and then scoop the mixture into a greased pudding bowl.
Step 4: If your bowl has a lid attach that on or make a home-made lid with baking paper and kitchen foil.
Step 5: Place the bowl into the slow cooker and pour warm water into the slow cooker so that the water comes half way up the pudding bowl.
Step 6: Place the slow cooker lid on the cooker and set the dial to the high setting. Cook for 4 hours.
Step 7: Once cooked, remove the lid, and carefully run a cutlery knife around the edges of the pudding bowl to loosen up the pudding sides.
Step 8: Place a serving plate over the pudding bowl and flip it upside down.If necessary give the bottom of the bowl a hard tap and the pudding should slip out onto the plate.
Step 9: Sprinkle some brown sugar on to the top of the hot spotted dick pudding.
Serving suggestion: Enjoy with cream, hot custard, or a scoop of ice-cream. We like the Alpro single soya cream or the Oatley oat cream.
📋 Recipe notes
Leftovers can be stored within a covered container and kept refrigerated for 3-4 days. Whole puddings can be stored within the pudding bowl but do allow the bowl- if it’s made from stoneware, Pyrex, or ceramic - to come up to room temperature before reheating as the sudden change in temperature from chilled to hot water could cause the bowl to crack.
Spotted dick can be frozen for 3-4 months. Thaw to room temperature before reheating.
Leftover pudding can be quickly reheated by using a microwave although if reheating in the pudding bowl then do check that it is microwave safe.
Or add slices of the pudding to an oven-safe dish and cover with kitchen foil. Reheat in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes or until nicely warmed up.
Alternatively the pudding can be reheated in the slow cooker by adding it back into the pudding bowl and add a lid. Pour hot water into the slow cooker until it is half way up the bowl and add the cooker lid. Reheat on the high setting until the pudding is at your desired temperature. Check the pudding after an hour to see how it’s going.
Pudding basins/bowls/dishes come in a variety of materials including stoneware, ceramic, plastic, and Pyrex glass. For some types of pudding bowls a home-made pudding lid needs to be prepared with greaseproof or baking paper, kitchen foil and string.
There is a useful video that details how to prepare a pudding lid over on our steamed date and syrup pudding recipe post.
Some pudding bowls have their own lid, such as plastic pudding bowls with a clip-on lid, and they are usually re-useable which are rather handy as no home-made lid needs to be prepared which reduces waste.
Steamed puddings are traditionally prepared on the stove-top within a large pot of simmering water that is used to steam cook the pudding. To prepare spotted dick for stove-top steaming use a heat-proof pudding bowl with either a clip on lid or prepare your own lid and steam cook the spotted dick for around 2 ½-3 hours in a pot of gently boiling water.
It is important to maintain the water level half way up the pudding bowl and have it at a gentle boil so do check the water level often during cooking.
A small heatproof saucer or plate can be placed at the bottom of the pot, with the pudding basin placed on top of the plate, to prevent too much direct heat on the bowl. However, we tend to miss this step out as our plate tends to rattle too much and we use a thick bottomed pot so the pudding is less likely to be affected by the direct heat.
Traditionally spotted dick pudding would have a pat of butter placed on top of the hot pudding so that it melts down the sides and then sugar sprinkled over the surface.
A few additional ideas:
* vegan pouring cream (such as Oatley oat cream/Alpro single cream/ Elmlea plant cream
* hot vegan custard
* vegan ice cream
* vegan vanilla yogurt
* canned fruit cocktail/tinned fruit mix
* slices of fruit or a tasty fresh fruit salad
* fresh or frozen berry coulis/sauce
* vegan chocolate/toffee/butterscotch sauce
* golden syrup that has been warmed in a pan so that it is easily pourable
👪 More traditional slow cooker pudding recipes
There’s nothing more comforting and warming than a traditional family favourite pudding that is full of old-fashioned nostalgia and brings back fond memories! Preparing old-fashioned puddings and desserts in the slow cooker takes the pressure off as it’s just so easy and fuss free.
As we are a vegan family recipe blog all our recipes are prepared with vegan-friendly and plant-based ingredients but as we want our recipes to be easily accessible we use every-day ingredients - so if you use a particular type of milk or margarine, etc then feel free to use those instead.
***please note: for US measurements click the ‘US customary button’ within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces. ***
Slow Cooker Steamed Spotted Dick Pudding
- 1 ½-2 pint (¾-1 quart) pudding bowl 4 cup pudding bowl, plus greaseproof paper, kitchen foil and string to prepare a lid if necessary, some pudding bowls have clip-on lids
- Slow cooker/crock pot at least 3.5 litres (3 quarts plus) size or large enough to fit your pudding basin with the slow cooker lid placed on top.
- lemon zester to grate/shred lemon zest of the fresh lemon
- 70 grams margarine [such as Flora or Stork baking spread, plus extra to grease the bowl]
- 70 grams granulated sugar [or caster sugar]
- 120 grams self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 115 grams apple sauce [home-made or regular shop bought smooth or small diced apple sauce]
- 100 grams raisins [or dried currants]
- 1 Small-medium lemon [zest removed]
- 2 tablespoons Oat milk [or use your usual milk]
After cooked and removed from the bowl:
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar [such as light brown or soft brown sugar, use more if preferred]
- Set the slow cooker to the high setting. Pour a little water in to cover the bottom and pop a lid on.
- Grease a pudding bowl with a generous amount of margarine as this will make it easier for the cooked pudding to be released.
- Using either a mixing spoon or electric hand whisk cream the margarine and sugar together until well mixed.70 grams margarine, 70 grams granulated sugar
- Stir through the apple sauce.115 grams apple sauce
- Sift in the flour, and add the baking powder and lemon zest. Next add the raisins or currants, and the two tablespoons of plant milk.120 grams self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 Small-medium lemon
- Next, add the raisins or dried currants and stir through the milk.100 grams raisins, 2 tablespoons Oat milk
- Fold all the ingredients together using a mixing spoon until all is just combined.
- Scoop into the pudding bowl and level the surface.
- Pop a lid onto the pudding basin or prepare a homemade lid (there is a link to a video detailing how to prepare a lid within the recipe notes and FAQ section above). However, it’s just a case of placing a circular piece of parchment paper over the bowl and adding a second piece of kitchen foil over the paper and then tying the lids on tightly with some kitchen string. Trim the lids and string to make it look neat. If your pudding bowl comes with a lid then this can be snapped on and you won’t need a home-made lid.
- Place the pudding bowl into the slow cooker and pour warm water at least half way up the pudding bowl. The water level may end near the top of the actual pudding mix in the basin as that may be half-way up the bowl, but this is perfect.
- Pop a lid onto the slow cooker and leave to steam for 4 hours.
- After 4 hours carefully remove the pudding bowl from the slow cooker and remove the lid. Allow the pudding to sit in the bowl for at least 10 minutes before removing.
- Use a cutlery knife to gently loosen the top edges of the pudding. Place a serving plate over the pudding bowl opening and flip the pudding over.
- If the pudding does not slip out give the pudding bowl a hard tap and the pudding should slide out.
- Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the pudding and serve with hot custard or chilled cream if liked.1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Data does not include any accompaniments but does include 1 tablespoon of brown sugar for adding to the finished pudding.
- Leftover pudding can be stored within a covered container and placed in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Whole spotted dick puddings can be stored within the pudding basin but do allow the pudding and the pudding bowl if its made from ceramic, stone, glass, etc to come to room temperature before reheating as the change in temperature could crack the dish.
- Freeze spotted dick pudding for up to 3-4 months. Defrost completely before enjoying at room temperature or reheated.
- Leftovers can be reheated in minutes using a microwave (if using the same pudding basin do check that it is also safe for microwaves)
- Or place the pudding back into the slow cooker within the pudding basin and add hot water to the slow cooker. Reheat on high until the pudding is at your desired temperature, check after an hour of reheating.
- Alternatively place the pudding into an oven-safe dish and cover with a piece of kitchen foil and reheat in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
- For an easy video detailing how to prepare a pudding bowl lid refer to the link within the recipe notes and FAQ section above the recipe.
- Dried currants, raisins or sultanas can be used for this recipe. Although it is traditional to use dried currants. Dried cranberries could also be used for a festive spotted dick that could be used as a Christmas pudding alternative or as a Thanksgiving dinner dessert.
- Any type of apple sauce can be used either home-made or shop bought. Any shop bought variety is fine either completely smooth or those that come in small apple dice.
- We are a vegan family recipe blog so all our ingredient suggestions are for vegan- friendly and plant-based ones but if you have different dietary needs you can use your usual ingredients.
- We like to use soya or oat milk for pudding recipes, but we also use almond milk.
- For baking fats we like to use Stork baking spread, or Flora dairy-free versions, or vegan butter such as Flora plant butter. However, it’s best to avoid lite or diet margarines as these tend to contain more water.
Prepared our Slow Cooker Spotted Dick Pudding recipe? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe so do pop back and drop us a comment and click the star ratings. Thanks so much! Love Jacq x