Clootie Dumpling – my favourite Scottish desert…

A traditional dessert pudding called clootie dumpling is made with flour, breadcrumbs, dried fruit (sultanas and currants), suet, sugar and spice with some milk to bind it, and sometimes golden syrup. Ingredients are mixed well into a dough, then wrapped up in a floured cloth, placed in a large pan of boiling water and simmered for a couple of hours before being lifted out and dried before the fire or in an oven. Recipes vary from region to region e.g. in North Fife and Dundee it is not common to use breadcrumbs but the use of treacle is common.
Here is my favourite way to make it:
Preparation time

30 mins to 1 hour


Cooking time

over 2 hours

Serves 8


225g (8oz) plain flour, plus 25g (1oz) for sprinkling

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼tsp sea salt

175g/6oz caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling

100g/4oz shredded suet

100g/4oz sultanas

75g/3oz currants

75g/3oz chopped stoned dates

50g/2oz Muscatel raisins

1 apple or carrot, coarsely grated

1 tbsp black treacle

1 medium farm-fresh egg

150ml/5fl oz buttermilk

225g/8oz clotted cream


Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar, suet, dried fruits, and the grated carrot or apple. 

Mix the black treacle with the egg and some of the buttermilk and mix into the dry ingredients to give soft mixture with a cake-like dropping consistency.

Dip a large piece of muslin, an old pillowcase, a pudding cloth or a tea towel into boiling water, remove it and squeeze out the excess water. Lay it out on a surface and sprinkle a 30cm/12in circle in the centre with the 25g/1oz of flour and the 1 tbsp of caster sugar. Spoon pudding mixture on top and tie securely with string, leaving a little room for the pudding to expand. 

Rest a large heatproof trivet or container in the base of a large pan so that the pudding is not in direct contact with the heat. Place the pudding on the trivet/container, knotted side up. Pour in enough water almost to cover the pudding, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 3-4 hours. Take a peek every now and then and then to check the water level and top it up if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Lift the pudding out of the pan and dip it briefly in a bowl of cold water (to ensure that the outside of the pudding does not stick to an ovenproof serving plate). Then remove remove the cloth and place the pudding on an ovenproof dish/plate. Slide it into the oven and leave it for 15 minutes until the outside of the pudding has dried off. 

Serve in chunky wedges with scoops of clotted cream.

6 thoughts on “Clootie Dumpling – my favourite Scottish desert…

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