Pat it on the bum for luck

No yeast involved in today’s project, nor any baking and yet… it may prove worth the documenting.

I am making my first ever Clootie Dumpling! What is more, I am making it as Mr L’s birthday cake, so it had better come out all right.

Clootie Dumpling is a traditional Scots dish (though there are related dishes in England, particularly in the North and North East) and  is a boiled spiced and fruited pudding with suet content. It is eaten as a dessert or as a cake or fried with breakfast – don’t snicker, it is absolutely delicious eaten with bacon!

I have long wanted to attempt one myself as we both love eating dumpling. There is a Class in the Industrial Show for Clooties and I would rather like to get my skill up to a level where I won’t be laughed at if I make an entry. I therefore set about my research and soon discovered that Clootie Dumpling is a catch-all for a wide variety of recipes. The dried  fruit content varies quite dramatically. Some recipes include breadcrumbs, others do not, one uses crushed biscuits. Some are mixed with milk, others with buttermilk, one with milk stout. There are recipes that include Treacle or Golden Syrup, and I believe these terms to be synonymous in the dumpling context and that the only colour comes from the spicing, which is pretty stable throughout all the recipes that I have seen. Whatever else you do in your cloot, there will be cinnamon and ginger involved.

For my first attempt, I chose a recipe sourced from Frugaldom

Clootie Dumpling Recipe – At long last, I have acquired my Great Granny Kerr’s recipe for CLOOTIE DUMPLING! It’s taken many years of asking and reminding my mum that I still didn’t own a copy, so I have never attempted to make a traditional Scottish clootie dumpling for fear of it not tasting right. On 15th November 2009, I become the proud owner of that simple recipe, passed from mother to daughter through 5 generations that we know of so far, six and then seven when my own daughter attempts to make her first dumpling for her daughter to taste. This page is dedicated to the KERR’S CLOOTIE DUMPLING.

Great Great Granny Kerr’s Clootie Dumpling recipe.

  • 12 ozs Self raising flour
  • 1/4 lb suet
  • 3 large tablespoons caster sugar
  • 3 good handfuls raisins
  • 1 good sized tablespoon treacle
  • 1 dessertspoon syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon All Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • Milk to mix

A cloot = large cloth or muslin square used for boiling the dumpling in – don’t forget to flour the inside of it so it forms a skin.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Add enough milk to make a soft consistency (Not slobbery, though)
Wet the cloot (cloth)
Sprinkle liberally with flour
Pour the mixture into the cloot and then tie tightly with string, leaving room for mixture to expand.

(In our family, everyone around at the time pats the dumpling for luck before it gets boiled!)

Place on a plate in a large pot of boiling water – keep topping it up throughout the cooking process.
Allow to boil for about 3 hours, with lid on pot.
Do not allow to dry in
Always top up using boiling water
Allow for expansion of the dumpling within the cloth.

When ready, carefully remove the dumpling from the cloth, sprinkle it with caster sugar and place it in pre-heated oven for about half an hour at 100 degrees, or until dumpling has formed a nice shiny skin.

  • Your dumpling can be served hot on it’s own, with cream, with milk, with custard for pudding
  • Your dumpling can be served cold & sliced as cake
  • Your dumpling can be cooled and sliced then fried as part of breakfast
  • Your dumpling can be frozen for later use – IF there’s enough left after the family gets at it!
  • Your dumpling can include chopped apples, grated carrots, chopped nuts or any combination of healthy options.

Experiment, develop your own favourite version of this ‘esteamed’ clootie dumpling and don’t forget to give a mention if you’re blogging or bragging about it.

Now, I do have a pudding of some kind simmering away in the kitchen but I hold no great hopes of it as I know that I went wrong more than once in making this. One clue is in what I wrote before quoting the recipe: I totally failed to notice that this recipe uses both Golden Syrup and Black Treacle. My dumpling has Syrup in it, but no treacle.

I used a pillowcase as my cloot and I scalded it before use but in my rush to make the dumpling, I assumed I could cope without cutting it up. I am pretty sure my floured coating is very  patchy because I could not flatten my cloot.  My final goof (so far) was in putting the pud in the pan and pouring boiling water over it and forgetting to turn the heat on under the pan. The pud should be lowered into the simmering water. What can I say? I was distracted.

Part 2 of this post this afternoon, after the dumpling has cooked and been dried, eaten, and rated. There will be further Clooties, as I pursue the perfect recipe and a coveted Red Card. It may take years – yes, probably, I shall be head to head with the experts and have much to learn!

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