My sister recently celebrated a birthday of some significance. I suppose you could argue that at our age, getting through another year is a milestone, but we'll let that pass. She told me that for her birthday our Aunt Agnes (not related, but that's what you called your parents' friends in those far off days) used to make her a clootie dumpling. Agnes was a fabulous baker. Long gone now and, sadly, her recipes have gone with her; however, it did remind me that I'd featured a recipe for this years ago, courtesy of our good friend Linda Watt, granddaughter of the eponymous Mrs Gray.
Linda tells me that it was traditional in her family to make this on Christmas Eve, with the whole family taking a turn to have a stir and make a wish. For the non Scots among you, cloot is the Scots word for a cloth. The cloth itself will have to be robust enough for the long cooking, and large enough not only to contain the pudding mixture, but to allow room for expansion.
(If some of the numbers seem a little eccentric, I am converting GG’s recipe from Imperial into metric. Conversion rate: 1oz = 28g; 1 pint = 568ml)
280g self raising flour; 110g breadcrumbs; 170g soft brown sugar; 110g shredded suet; 225g currants; 225g sultanas; 2 tbsp golden syrup; 1 tbsp marmalade or honey; 1 tsp salt; 3 tsp mixed spice; 2 tsp ground cinnamon; ½ tsp cream of tartar; 1 tsp baking soda (as baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar, I’m guessing you could use that instead); 2 eggs; 145 ml milk.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add everything else. As ever, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix thoroughly, making appropriate wishes. It is customary to add a small coin or two. Somehow, old ones such as sixpences or silver threepennies are nicest. I wimp out and wrap mine in a wee greaseproof paper envelope. (Remember to warn diners in advance.) Dampen the cloot and spread it out. Sprinkle liberally with flour – this will give a good skin to the finished pudding. Tip the mixture into the cloth, gather the four corners together and tie tightly with string, leaving room for expansion. The pudding needs to cook for about 8 hours. You can boil it or steam it. If putting in boiling water put an upturned saucer or such like in the pan, so that the cloth doesn’t touch the base. Top tip: set a timer at regular intervals to remind you to top up the water.
Thanks again to Linda for the recipe
Kirkcaldy based couple Ameer and Nicole Limbu, who trade as Choola, won the Scottish Street Food Award in September. You may have seen them on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen where they wowed everyone with their signature buffalo curry. They have now topped that by carrying off the British award. Ameer is Nepalese. You'll find them at Bowhouse Market near St Monans this weekend, 11 and 12 November, from 10 - 4, or until they sell out.