Clootie dumpling

It would appear that some parts of the world feel that Britain should apologise for having created such culinary marvels as the Spotted Dick, a steamed pudding containing dried fruit and traditionally served with thick, gooey custard. If, after eating that, the kids were still hungry, then it was time to see the doctor because that definitely wasn’t normal.

If done properly, the steamed pud (which can also be lemon or orange flavoured, or jam-filled, or… Well, whatever your imagination can get to work, really) can actually be a pleasant end to a meal. It needn’t be stodgy at all.

Now, while I threatened a certain epidemiologist with full-blown Dick (also: dog, possibly from the word “dough”. Nothing suggestive about it at all) this evening, it seems to me that most would probably better appreciate a Clootie Dumpling. This is a Scottish recipe. I have fond memories of being served clootie dumpling every Hogmanay by my neighbour (we always ended up at their place) after the 2 a.m. meal. Yes, 2 in the morning. I’m told things have gone downhill in the Old Country, but I suspect the tradition of not going to bed until dawn on Ne’erday (about 8 a.m., why do you think the Scots aren’t supposed to drink a drop until midnight?) still continues in places. So you need a full stomach for partying the year in.

Anyway, should you feel disinclined to wait until the wee hours in the middle of winter to try this one, it goes quite nicely with four o’clock tea on a chilly afternoon.

Clootie dumpling

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Image via Wikipedia


  • 175 g flour
  • 85 g shredded suet (can be vegetarian)
  • 85 g currants
  • 30 g sultanas
  • 60 – 90 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • about ¾ cup sour milk


  1. Mix flour, suet, fruit, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir in enough sour milk to make a fairly soft batter.
  2. Dip a pudding cloth (‘cloot’) into boiling water and sink it into a basin large enough to hold the batter. Dredge lightly with flour and spoon in the batter. Draw the cloth together evenly, so that the pudding has a round shape, tie it tightly with string while leaving enough room for the pudding to rise (for any budding chemists present, the raising agents are the sodium bicarbonate and sour milk).
  3. Place a saucer or small plate at the bottom of a saucepan, place the dumpling on top and pour in enough boiling water to cover. Simmer for a good two hours. Untie, turn out carefully onto a serving dish, dredge with caster sugar and serve with custard.

Alternately, if the shape doesn’t matter, use a well-greased deep circular mould filled to within about 3 cm of the rim, cover the top tightly with buttered greaseproof paper (save the wrappers off butter for this!) and steam for 3 hours.

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