Thursday, 4 November 2010

Scottish Clootie Dumpling

Clootie Dumpling is a traditional Scottish fruit pudding. It's super served freshly made and hot on it's own or with custard. Also popular fried along with sausages on a Sunday morning. No wonder Scots have a history of heart disease...

Anyway - Clootie Dumpling gets it's name from the cloth it is cooked in. The prepared mix is put into a cotton cloth (pillowcase would do if that's all you have) and loosely tied with string to leave room for expansion. It is then put into a pot of boiling water and boiled for 4 hours. The pot will regularly need topping up with water to cover the dumpling.

Oliver and I went a trip up to Scotland last weekend to see my parents (his grand parents). Having recently had his birthday - there was a promise of clootie dumpling. I've not had clootie dumpling in years. My Gran (who is no longer with us unfortunately) used to make us a dumpling every birthday instead of cake as per our heritage tradition. Underneath our slice would be hidden our lucky coin (wrapped in either greaseproof paper or foil).

The recipe as follows belonged to my Gran and was passed to her by her mother (my great grandmother) - so dates back to around 1850.

Oliver helped his Nanny make the dumpling ! For once, I had no part in this other than in the eating. I'll apologise now - I couldn't get any photos in decent lighting in the kitchen...

Recipe for Clootie Dumpling - Jean Inglis Knights

4 cups plain flour
2 rounded teasp baking powder
pinch salt
100g suet
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons black treacle
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
400g currants
100g sultanas
mix with milk or water as required to combine

You want a really thick porridge like consistency - almost verging on dough. It's not like a bread dough - just mix well with a wooden spoon.

See the video and Oliver will show you how !

Wet the dumpling cloth and then flour it. Tip the dumpling mix onto the cloth. Gather, and tie loosely to leave room for expansion. Not really loose. The dumpling is going to get about 50% bigger and needs to fill the cloth. Too saggy, and you'll end up with a bag of gunge after cooking !

Here is a tied clootie....

Now - this needs to go into a large pot of boiling water and be regularly topped up. Cook for 4 hours.

After cooking, remove from pot and take off the cloth. The cloth can be washed and reused. My mum still uses my grandmother's cloth.

The outside will be pale and sticky. You now need to pop it into an oven at around 180deg C for a short time for the skin on the outside to dry off. As soon as the outside starts to dry and look a little leathery, it's ready to serve.


  1. The dumpling is so interesting Sarah! I never thought you could literally boil a cake batter in water! Amazing. I'll bet it tastes fantastic!

    The video is soo darn cute too....grandma and Little Oliver making dumpling...:P Sweet.

    Happy birthday to Oliver again :)))

  2. Zurin - yes - it's quite an odd and old technique ... so I thought you and other blog readers may find it interesting !

    Oliver was too lucky. He basically ended up having two birthdays (one here and one up at Nanny's).

    I haven't had clootie dumpling for years. We lost my grandmother at 92years old about 4 years ago now. I think it must be going on 15 > 20 years since our family last made dumpling .... :shock: My mum has resurected the birthday tradition for Oliver. Would be a shame for something like this to end up lost forever if everyone stopped making them.

  3. Hi Sarah, how are you?
    Thank you for the nice comment on Chef Dennis' blog.
    I never had clootie pudding, and I like all the ingredients so I'm sure it's delicious.
    I look forward to reading more delicious posts from you.
    Have a great weekend. Michael.

  4. Cooking a cake is brilliant wish to give a shot, what a adorable video Sarah, love it Oliver was restless when his granny was explaning about the ingredients awee all he wanted was to mix and eat those raisins oh man kids are kids best on earth :)

  5. I think I may have to make a clootie dumpling this year - my nan used to make one every year for us and I love it, alas she's not well enough to bake anymore.
    I recommend it fried in butter for breakfast (a usual Scottish healthy dish for you!)

  6. I'm not a dumpling fan, but I'm an Oliver fan!

  7. Sarah, I've never heard of this but it sounds delicious! I loved loved the video with Oliver and Nanny. Loved hearing the English accents and her talking to Oliver. What was the little song she started singing at the end? Amazing with grandmother's cloth! Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. Thank you all for taking the time to leave comments. I'm sorry to take so long to reply - we're SO busy right now with pre Christmas orders that spare time just simply does not exist. I was so tired tonight that we even cheated and ordered take-away.... !

    Michael - lovely to see you joining us. I've followed you too. I'm surprised you've never had Clootie Dumpling before being from Scotland ... but then again, it is not so common these days. A lot of butchers sell it for frying alongside sausages !

    Ananda - yes - Oliver was not so patient. He just wanted to eat raisins, stir the mix and make a mess. He loves cooking and hates waiting. lol

    Anne - cor - yes - lovely fried or toasted... It didn't last long enough for that. No wonder Scots have such an astonishingly high rate of heart disease !

    Eve - I know you are :-) I'm always amazed at how many customers come on the phone to order or in the shop and ask after him. He seems to have a massive blog following ! One customer (Diane - thank you..) even brought him a little truck a few weeks ago. Bless. He is a good boy. x

    Pam - thougt it might make an interesting blog entry as it's something that is so rarely seen or made these days. Real shame.

    I don't know all the song - but it does go

    " A Lump of lead the size of my head, stir up the dumpling"

    Basically - once it's mixed and cooked in the cloth, it's a real heavy solid thing (and pretty much the size of a head come to think of it.)

    We're going back up to Scotland for Christmas and staying a bit longer next time.


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