Updated: Sep 21, 2020
A Clootie Dumpling is a traditional treat in Scotland, particularly popular at birthdays and Christmas. A cloot is a good old Scots word for a cloth so a clootie dumpling takes its name from the cloth that it's boiled in. I remember being served it as a child at my Grandmother's where she would add to the excitement by wrapping silver charms or silver threepenny bits in parchment for us to find in the dumpling. My mother has continued the tradition but without the charms - they were probably all swallowed at some point! No one died in the making of these puddings.
The ingredients are the same as for most fruit puddings - self-raising flour, caster sugar, suet, bicarbonate of soda with the addition of lots of fruits, spices and peel, milk to bind the mixture together and if you prefer a darker pudding then black treacle (molasses) can be added.
Once thoroughly mixed together, the mixture is tipped onto a cloth that has been scalded in boiling water and coated with a layer of flour that will give the dumpling its characteristic skin. The cloth is then gathered up and tied with string before being placed on a plate in a pot of boiling water to simmer for about 2 hours. Remember to top up the water!
When firm to the touch, the dumpling is removed from the water and the cloth gently teased off to expose the glutinous skin. Traditionally it would have been left by the fire to dry but today it's placed into a moderate oven. After about five minutes the dumpling is brought out in all its pudding-shaped glory! For me, the aroma of fruit and spices takes me right back to my Grandmother's kitchen and the same is true for my daughter a generation later.
This dish is usually served straight from the oven with either custard or cream - delicious! However being true Scots, my family revel in anything fried, and for us there is nothing to beat fried dumpling served the following morning alongside crispy bacon. Now you're talking!
If you would like a copy of the recipe and to see a video of my mum making a clootie dumpling please visit