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Cloutie Dumplings from A Taste of Scotland’s Islands

  22 Nov '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

This week’s recipe is for Cloutie Dumplings from Sue Lawrence’s Scottish culinary odyssey, A Taste of Scotland’s Islands:

Wherever you travel on the islands cloutie (usually written as clootie, but always known in my family as cloutie!) dumpling is made for celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and Christmas. There are many variations, including adding marmalade or carrot, or soaking the fruit in tea. This is my version of many island recipes, and is easy to make.

Cloutie dumpling
Serves 8

200g self-raising flour, sifted
150g fresh brown breadcrumbs
200g shredded suet
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
125g light muscovado sugar
300g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants, raisins)
2 tbsp black treacle
About 300ml full-cream milk
Flour and caster sugar, to sprinkle

Mix the first 9 ingredients together in a bowl with a pinch of salt, adding a little more milk if necessary to get the correct consistency: you want a stiff yet dropping consistency.

Dip a large pudding cloth (or large tea-towel) into boiling water to scald, drain well using rubber gloves to squeeze it dry, and lay it out flat on a board. Sprinkle with flour and then sugar (I use my flour and sugar shakers): you want an even – but not thick – sprinkling. This forms the characteristic skin.

Spoon the mixture into the centre of the cloth, draw the corners of the cloth together and tie up securely with string, allowing a little room for expansion. Place the cloutie on a heatproof plate in the bottom of a large saucepan. Top up with boiling water to just cover the pudding (it must come at least three-quarters way up the side of the pan, leaving the string out of the water), cover with a lid and simmer gently for about three hours. Check the water level occasionally and top up if necessary. You should continually hear the reassuring, gentle shuddering phut, phut, sound of the plate on the bottom of the pan for the entire duration of cooking.

Wearing rubber gloves, remove the pudding from the pan, dip briefly into a bowl of cold water (for no more than 10 seconds) so the skin does not stick to the cloth, then lift the dumpling into a colander in the sink. Cut the string, untie the cloth and invert the dumpling onto an ovenproof plate.

Place in the oven (180C/350F/Gas 4) for about 10 minutes to dry off the skin – it should feel a little less sticky – then sprinkle with caster sugar and serve hot with custard, or cold with a cup of tea.

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