A Clootie Dumpling is a Scottish steamed pudding that resembles a rich, dark, moist fruitcake. It is cooked by wrapping it in a cloth and simmering it in water. The cloth causes a skin to form on the pudding when it is done.
The batter is made from flour, baking soda, sugar, shredded suet and a liquid such as milk, soured milk or cold tea. Some versions use brown sugar, some use white, some add treacle. Some add an egg to the liquid.
Flavouring comes from spices such as cinnamon and mixed spice. Dried fruit such as sultanas, currants, and dates are stirred in. Some versions add a bit of fresh fruit, such as apple.
You make the batter, and stir the fruit in. You wet the pudding cloth, and sprinkle it lightly with flour and sugar.
Put the batter into the centre of the cloth, tie it up, and simmer it in a covered pot for around 4 hours.
Instead of using a cloth, some versions advise to put the pudding in a greased pudding bowl and then steam it as per “modern” steamed puddings, but no skin is formed on these versions. Purists say that without the skin, it might be a steamed pudding, but it is not Clootie.
After 4 hours, remove the dumpling from the pot, and immerse it in a cold-water bath for 10 seconds (to prevent the skin sticking to the cloth.) Open the cloth bundle, and invert it onto an ovenproof plate. Put it in a heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes to dry the skin — the skin needs to be dry before the pudding is served. This drying part used to be done in front of a fireplace for 15 minutes or so, and turned frequently so all that sides could dry; the task was usually assigned to a young child. Now, it is just done in an oven and no turning is needed.
After drying the skin, sprinkle the dumpling with caster sugar, and serve warm.
Clootie is made for special occasions such as birthdays. For birthdays, silver coins can be put in it.
It was traditionally served with custard, but now it might be served with thick cream, or ice cream.
Pressure cookers can reduce the steaming time to about 2 hours. Some people now say they can do the steaming in a 750 W microwave in under 10 minutes. They prepare the recipe as per normal, including the wetted and floured cloth, and then pop it in a microwave roasting bag, loosely tied, with about 4 oz of water in it (no coins can be inside the dumpling, of course.)
Left-overs can be used the next day for breakfast, sliced and fried up in melted suet or butter.
Note: if you make it in advance and you have put coins in it, don’t reheat it in a microwave.
If stored properly, an uncut Clootie Dumpling can be stored for up to two months.
The use of cloth as a wrapper for cooking pudding in dates back to the 1600s. Before that, animal intestines were used.
“Clootie” rhymes with “fruity.”
“Cloot” or “clout” is Scots for “cloth.”
Also spelt “Cloutie.”
Lawrence, Sue. Cloutie Dumpling. Guild of Food Writers Recipe Archives. November 2000. Retrieved January 2009 from http://www.gfw.co.uk/recipes/popuprecipe.php?id=31