clootie pudding

Clootie Pudding – The traditional Burns Night pudding

I was a latecomer to haggis but instantly converted. People can be a little squeamish about eating offal these days, but it strikes me that the rich mix of spices and otherwise unused animal parts fits perfectly with the modern sensibility of reducing food waste. Everything but the oink as the old saying goes.

But there is more to a Burns Night meal than the haggis. The next question has to be – what else would my Scottish neighbours eat to celebrate their most beloved poet?

Burns Night Supper – Dessert

Dessert proved a source of consternation. Many modern-day Burns Night menus offer the naughty but nice Cranachan. The delicious combination of fresh cream, oats and whisky was originally a late summer dish, served after the harvest with seasonal raspberries. It’s not a dish suited to traditional winter provisions.

Eventually, my research turned up the fantastic clootie (or cloutie) pudding, a combination of dried fruit, spices and suet and so named after the cloth used to wrap the ingredients before boiling.

I can’t lay claim to this recipe. Full of warming winter spices, this pudding is much lighter than you might expect.

The real trick is in adding the layer of flour to the damp cloth before wrapping. This gives the cooked clootie a skin, resembling the look of the haggis. 

Clootie Pudding

From The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best
Serves 12

  • 12 oz sultanas,
  • 12oz plain flour,
  • 6oz suet
  • 1tsp cinnamon,
  • 1tsp mixed spice,
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 1 grated apple,
  • 5oz soft brown sugar
  • 3 tblsp treacle,
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg (beaten), milk to mix

A cloth – butter muslin or clean tea towel.

1. Fill a large saucepan or stock pot with boiling water and keep boiling ready for clootie

2. Mix all the dry ingredients and apple together.

3. Add the treacle, egg and milk and mix until you get a thick dough.

4. Scald the cloth in the boiling water, then spread the cloth onto a flat surface.

5. Spread flour over the wet cloth. This creates the skin of the dumpling.

6. Add your dumpling dough to the centre of the cloth. Pull the sides of the cloth together and
wrap the dough into a tight ball with the cloth. Tie the cloth tightly with string keeping the dough
tight within.

7. Add the dumpling to the boiling pot. Ensure the water comes up to the top or over the
dumpling. Boil for 3 ½ hours.

8. Keep the water on the boil and continue to top up the pot with water.

9. After 3 ½ hours lift out the dumpling from the pot, cut away the string and slowly unpeel the
cloth from the dumpling.

10. Once you’ve peeled away about 6 inches in diameter.

11. Add a plate upside down on top of the dumpling and tip the dumpling onto this plate. Slowly
unpeel the remainder of the cloth. The dumpling will look like a grey spotted brain!

12. Put the dumpling in front of a fire to dry off a little and turn brown.

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