Sunday, 19 December 2010

Confectionery & Clootie Dumpling - Frugaldom Style


First job, today, was to get the clootie dumpling on to cook, so here's the simple, step by step method to show you how it's done.

The first thing you need to do is get a big pan of water on to boil. You'll need to put a plate on the bottom of the pan so the dumpling can sit on top of that, rather than straight onto the base.

I put out all the ingredients straight into the mixing bowl then mix them all together with just enough milk to make it 'muddy' without being too runny or gloopy. The spoon should just be able to stand upright and no more when the consistency is right, as per photograph.

Once everything is mixed together, prepare your cloot (cloth) by dampening it down and sprinkling it liberally with flour. This is what will help form the skin on your finished dumpling. I put the cloth in a large jug before pouring in the mixture, but you can just as easily lay it out on a flat surface and then gather up the edges to tie them. My 'cloot' is cut from an old cotton pillowcase with the trimmings kept for tying it all together. Remember to leave enough space for the dumpling to expand during cooking.

Once it's all tied up, it should look something like this:

 It's an old family tradition that everyone in the household pats the dumpling before it goes into the pot of boiling water but, as I was alone in the house at the time, ours escaped its 'skelp erse'. It was also traditional to hide silver sixpences inside the dumpling but, for obvious health and safety issues, this part of dumpling making has now been omitted. Afterall, we don't want granny choking or breaking her wallies on a coin at the Christmas dinner table, do we? Your clootie dumpling is now ready to be lowered into the boiling water.

Always ensure that there's enough water to cover the whole dumpling but don't worry if it's floating a bit. Just tuck the whole lot into the pan and put the lid on tightly.  You now need to keep this on the boil for about the next 4 hours - not very frugal if you need to cook with electricity or gas, but great if you have a multifuel stove or logburner.

While the dumpling is boiling, I'm getting back to making the marzipan fruits. I was able to text a friend who was en route here for coffee and a catch up, so she brought me the much needed cloves - all I was needing to finish the marzipan apples. I'm now in the process of doing the oranges and bananas.

Using the cloves, they are inserted long end in for oranges and star end in for apples and bananas. I haven't bothered painting in the ridge stripes on the bananas as mine are all sugar frosted. 

I've looked out some small boxes and think I should be able to cut lids into these and use them for presentation packs that can be personalised accordingly, but I'll tackle that job later.

Next up, more truffles. But I need to wait until the dumpling has finished cooking so I can use the hot plate. I only have a tiny pot belly 'pig' stove, hence the name, 'George'.


The dumpling is ready. After about 4 hours of boiling, lift the bag from the boiling water and carefully untie the cloth. At this point, you'll need to very carefully turn the dumpling out onto a large, ovenproof dinner plate. It will look quite wet and, as we put it, peely wally (pale).

Traditionally, the dumpling would be sat in front of the fire to dry out the skin and turn it a deep golden brown but for health and hygiene reasons, it's safest to finish it off under the grill or in a warm oven. This is primarily because we now have the cat and I'm sure she would love to sample a clootie dumpling.

This will now be cooled, sliced and eaten... NO! I mean it will now be cooled, sliced and frozen for next weekend. I'll probably keep a couple of slices out for eating this week. It can be eaten hot or cold, served with cream, milk or custard, fried for breakfast or just eaten like cake. Dmpling is an ideal frugal extravagance, so I always have all the ingredients in store. It's very filling and quite rich, so it's best not to over-indulge.

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