Monday, 24 December 2012

Frugaldom's Christmas Clootie Dumpling Recipe.

Great Granny Kerr's Traditional Scottish Clootie Dumpling

Our 'secret' frugal recipe, passed down several generations of the family

Get a large stockpot of water on to boil before you start, so the water is ready for the dumpling. Place a plate on the bottom of the pan, so the dumpling can bounce off that, rather than the bottom of the pan.


12oz plain flour
4oz shredded suet
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 large handfuls of raisins (or sultanas or dried fruit)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice or mixed spice
1 teaspoon ginger

Mix all of the above dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add:

1 large tablespoon of treacle
1 large dessertspoon of syrup
Enough milk to bind the mix together into a soft consistency without it going mushy.

Lay out a damp cloot / cloth and sprinkle plain flour liberally across the middle part, where the mix will be poured. (I use a round cloot/cloth cut from an old cotton tablecover, but a piece of muslin or even a cotton tea towel would do.)

Pour all of the mix into the centre of the cloth.

Gather up the edges and tie them all with string or a piece of cloth, leaving enough room for the mix to expand as it cooks.

At this point, there's also an old tradition of having everyone pat the dumpling before it gets immersed in the boiling water. I suppose we also need to remind folks to wash their hands, first, if this tradition is to be followed.

Gently lower the post-patted dumpling into your pan of boiling water and cover it with the lid.

This now needs to be kept on the boil for about three to three and a half hours, always ensuring that the water level doesn't drop too much.
It's also wise to check that you have left enough room for the mix to expand in the cloth. We don't want any episodes of dumpling bursting oot its cloot!

Traditionally, coins or lucky charms would be cooked in the dumpling, as gifts for whoever found them in their serving. This practice has slowly fallen by the wayside for health and safety, food hygiene and dentistry reasons, but some stalwarts still follow tradition! (I'd advise sterilising the coins or charms in boiling water and then wrapping them in greaseproof paper before adding them into the mix to be boiled in the pudding. HSE can be so strict, nowadays! Ho, ho, ho hum!) Best to ask your host or hostess if they're a true traditionalist before biting into a big mouthful of clootie dumpling, especially if they happen to be a wacky, Scot. Oh, and if it does happen to be a Scottish host, make sure they know you're talking about the clootie dumpling and not their kilt, before asking how traditional they are, otherwise it could make for a very embarrassing scenario at the dinner table, especially after a few wee halfs!

Removing the dumpling from the cloth can be a bit hazardous, so use strong tongs to lift it from the boiling water and take great care not to drop it or drip boiling water on yourself. I find it easiest to place the whole thing into the mixing bowl until the cloth is untied - a tricky process that's easier done if you have long nails, rather than burn your fingers. The prongs of a fork work quite well, too.

Turn the dumpling out onto a large plate - at this stage it will look very pale and pasty or, as we say here, 'peely wally'.

Sprinkle the dumpling with sugar and place into a hot oven for approximately 15 minutes, keep checking it doesn't burn. Traditionally, the dumpling would be sat on the hearth by the open fire.
During its time in the oven, your dumpling should develop a lovely, brown, leathery-looking skin. At this point, it is ready for eating hot, served with cream, custard or milk. You can decorate it with a small sprig of holly and a dusting of icing sugar, if you really want it to look 'posh'.

If it's not needed at this time, allow your dumpling to cool, wrap it in tinfoil and keep it until it is needed.

Dumpling freezes well, whole or sliced.

Once thawed, dumpling can be reheated in the microwave, oven, grill or steamer.

If reheating dumpling in the oven, wrap it in tinfoil to prevent it from drying out, you can uncover it for the final few minutes.

If grilling, it's probably best to slice the dumpling first.

If reheating in the microwave, plate up the servings and cover them with an upturned bowl or microwave safe cling film.
Dumpling can be reheated in a steamer or by steaming over a pan of boiling water

Dumpling is very versatile.
It's a fruit pudding that can be eaten hot with a topping of your choice, or it is a fruit cake that can be sliced and served cold, in similar fashion to fruit loaf. But better still, it can be sliced and pan fried as part of a traditional breakfast fry-up.

Have you had your dumpling this year?



  1. I wonder what it would taste like minus the dried fruit, as we are not a fan of that? Otherwise it would be something we would like.


    1. My Gran used to sometimes make it without fruit and spices and we would eat it with jam or golden syrup, or granulated sugar on it, usually with custard, as any cream from the milk (own cow) was used to make butter.

  2. It's one of those frugal recipes where you can use up bits and pieces of whatever you have available, including grated carrots, grains, chopped nuts etc, I even know people who have cooked them with tea leaves to add flavour! LOL

  3. That sounds totally yummy and very versatile.

    Have a lovely Christmas.

    Sue xx


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