Clootie Dumpling

Recipe from Mary Easson
Submitted by Ringwood Publishing


125g shredded suet
250g self raising flour
125g oatmeal
250g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants
75g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp (approx) milk or buttermilk
Extra flour


In a large bowl rub suet (or margarine if you prefer) into the flour. Mix in dry ingredients (oatmeal, fruit, sugar, spices) and make a well in the centre. Pour in eggs and syrup and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add just enough milk to make a sticky mixture. Wrap a small coin in waxed paper and push into the mixture.

Prepare cloot (a muslin square or cloth) by dipping in boiling water. Spread out on table and sieve flour liberally over it. Place mixture in the middle and tie up the cloth tightly with string leaving enough room for the mixture to expand. Place in a clean pillowcase and close with string.

Part fill a large pan with boiling water. Gently place the pillowcase with the dumpling into the pan and simmer for at least 3 hrs. Remove from pan, gently remove the cloth and allow to dry and cool on a plate. Traditionally the dumpling was placed in front of the fire for 30-40 minutes to allow a shiny skin to form.

Slice when cool and serve spread with butter or with custard as a dessert. A full Scottish breakfast often includes a slice of fried dumpling! Can be kept in a tin for several weeks before use.

Clootie dumpling is so-called because it is made in a cloot, the Scots word for cloth. The method of cooking developed in the days when people cooked over an open fire and ovens were a rarity. Since the fire was lit more or less all of the time the long cooking time was not problematic. My mother made them for special occasions such as New Year and birthdays. I do not recall having a birthday cake until I was about ten years old. Until then it was always a clootie dumpling with a silver threepenny in it. The person who found the ‘lucky penny’ was assured good luck. We were not well-off in a material sense but I am reminded of the important things in life when I remember my mother’s clootie dumplings, made with love, and enjoyed in the company of family and friends.

Mary Easson is the author of Black Rigg. Set in a Scottish mining village in the year 1910, the story unfolds during the period of social and economic change when the foundations of modern Scotland were being laid. Class, power, injustice, poverty and community are raised by the narrative in powerful and dramatic style, and set this novel apart as a multi-layered exposition of Scottish social mores and manners in the rapidly changing years of the early 20th century.

Mary Easson is published by Ringwood Publishing.