Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Vegetarian Clootie Dumpling: My take on a traditional Scottish Dessert Recipe

How to Make a Vegetarian Clootie Dumpling

British silver threepence piece
A silver threepence piece via Wiki commons
Here's my recipe for a vegetarian clootie dumpling. This was one of my familiy's favourite pudding served up on special occasions. In case you don't know, clootie dumpling is a traditional Scottish steamed fruit pudding and named for the cloth or cloot it was steamed in. Lucky coins, (usually silver three-penny-pieces my father saved and duly exchanged for a half-crown), were wrapped in grease-proof paper and included in the pudding before cooking: giving the pudding a stir was thought to guarantee every child a lucky coin.
It is traditionally cooked with beef suet but thankfully you can now get vegetarian suet - failing that use butter instead, this will make a lighter pudding.
It is best served hot with double cream but you can also use custard or ice-cream. It can be eaten cold, much like a rich fruit cake. The most famous clootie dumplings were made my Ma Broon, of the cartoon Broons family, who liked it fried with bacon!
Today you can buy them on line if you don't make them yourself and they interesting and unique gifts. If you make your own, wrap the dumpling in a pretty clean dry cloth or muslin and tie with a tartan bow.

To make a Veggie cloutie dumpling: You Will Need

  1. A clean cloth - a teacloth, tea-towel or muslin can be used but my mother always used a pillow-case.
  2. Scales
  3. A large baking bowl
  4. Wooden spoon
  5. Ingredients
  6. A large saucepan or steamer
  7. clootie dumpling
    Clootie Dumpling via Wiki Commons
  8. A plate or saucer for inside the pot to raise your dumpling off the bottom.
  • Prep time: 
  • Cook time: 
  • Ready in: 
  • Yields: 4-6

My mixed spices contain cinnamon 40%, and the remaining equal amounts of cloves, ginger, nutmeg and coriander seeds.


  • 8 oz flour
  • 4 oz vegetarian suet or butter
  • 4 oz oatmeal
  • 3 oz soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • ginger
  • cloves
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • 2 oz raisins
  • 4 oz sultanas
  • 2 oz currents
  • 2 eggs - beaten
  • 3 -4 tablespoon milk
  • flour to coat the cloot


    1. Instructions:
    2. Sterilise the cloth by boiling in water for 2-3 minutes. Please take care when taking this out.
    3. When it is cool, flour the inner surface to give a nice skin to the dumpling and make it easier to turn out of the cloot.
    4. Sift flour into a large baking bowl
    5. Rub in the suet until it looks like fine breadcrumbs
    6. Add all the dried ingredients and mix well
    7. Make a well in the middle and add the beaten eggs
    8. Add enough milk to make a soft dough
    9. Put the mixture in the centre of your cloot, gather the ends together and tie the top with string - NB you need to leave about half an inch of room, enough for the pudding to expand.
    10. In a large pot/saucepan place an upturned saucer or plate to take the cloot off the bottom. (I use a steamer inset instead of the plate)
    11. Place the clootie dumpling on this.
    12. Fill the pot with boiling water, to cover about two thirds of the dumpling.
    13. Boil for 3 hours checking the water level from time to time.
    14. Allow to rest and cool before turning out the pudding

    The Cloutie Well
    Nick R
     [CC-BY-SA-2.0  via Wikimedia Commons

    The Clootie Well

    Hidden away in the Black Isles there is a Clootie Well - tradition says if you hang a clootie rag you will ward off evil.
    Other traditions say you should wash a diseased part of your body with an old clootie rag then tie it to a tree near a Clootie Well to aid your healing.
    There are several Clootie Wells in Scotland including one on Culloden Moor - they say if you see your own reflection in that one, you will also know the date of your death.
    So, if you come across a pond with a tree nearby that is hung with rags, you will know you have found a Clootie Well.

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