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Published by Amy
A truly iconic Scottish dessert! Clootie Dumpling is a pudding like no other, with an interesting cooking method, that explains the name.
Let me start this Clootie Dumpling recipe by saying there is a lot of information here. A LOT.
That is an intentional decision. Despite being Scottish, Clootie Dumpling wasn’t something I even tasted until well into adulthood. And something I didn’t attempt to make until my mother-in-law recently shared her family recipe with me.
And boy, was this a learning curve! In theory, Clootie Dumpling is a fairly easy recipe. But as I soon found out, there’s a few things that can easily go wrong or cause the panic of, “is that meant to happen?”,wheb you’ve never tried to make it before.
So, for you, I have tried to include: the history of Clootie Dumpling; in-depth instructions to keep your right; ingredient explanations & substitutions; and lots of tips for success. A complete, easy-to-follow, fool-proof, and authentic Clootie Dumpling recipe!
Like I say, Clootie Dumpling isn’t a recipe I had tried until I was an adult. In fact, the first time I tasted it was at Foodies Festival Christmas in Edinburgh in 2018, when the lovely Michelle of Clootie McToot joined us to demonstrate how to make your own Clootie Dumpling. Unfortunately I missed the majority of her demo due to being backstage prepping for my own upcoming demo, straight afterwards. I did however steal a bowl of her delicious Clootie Dumpling, and it was love at first spoonful!
Since then I have hoped and planned to share a Clootie Dumpling recipe on Baking with Granny, but we didn’t have one that had been passed down the generations, like so many of Granny’s other recipes. That’s when my wonderful mother-in-law stepped in to share her families Clootie Dumpling recipe.
It did not disappoint. Like all the very best family recipes, it came with measurements that I would have to somewhat decode – you know that “one teacup” is never going to be the same in grams twice, nor the same from ingredient-to-ingredient.
Once I had that figured out, it soon became apparent that this recipe made the mother of all Clootie Dumplings! It was HUGE. My mother-in-law did say that she remembered the men of the family enjoying the leftovers fried for their breakfast the next day, so I did wonder if the size was intentional to ensure plenty leftovers! But for your average home baker that is baking for family, I decided to half the recipe. That and because it was near impossible to fit in any of my pots!
The only other tweak I have made to this recipe is in the amount of mixed spice. After halving the recipe, I found I was craving a little more of my favourite flavours, so I doubled up on the amount of mixed spice.
Otherwise, this recipe is the original family recipe that has been passed down generations of one Scottish family. Just a little bit smaller, but still a very generous size!
Clootie Dumpling is a traditional Scottish pudding, comparable to Christmas Pudding but unique in it’s own way. The dumpling itself is made up mostly of dried fruits, such as raisins & currants; as well are flour, breadcrumbs, sugar, suet and milk – as well as a few other flavourful ingredients.
What makes Clootie Dumpling unique is the method in which it is cooked, which is also where it gets it name. Clootie Dumpling is boiled in a cloth, which in Scotland is also known as a “cloot”. The method also helps achieve the unique texture that Clootie Dumpling is known and loved for.
To make an authentic Clootie Dumpling, you start by mixing your dried ingredients together, before adding your wet ingredients, and mixing to create a thick, sticky dumpling mix.
You then take your “cloot” (cloth), scald it in hot water, before squeezing out the excess water & dusting it with flour. It’s this vital step that creates the skin on your Clootie Dumpling. Next, you spoon your dumpling mixture into the cloth, before tying up with corners and edges, before boiling your Clootie Dumpling for around 3 hours.
Once the boiling time is done, you take your dumpling out of the water, carefully remove the cloot, before popping your dumpling into the oven to dry out the skin. Historically you would dry it out beside the fire but I find an oven to be a bit more agreeable with modern life!
Finally you can serve your Clootie Dumpling warm, with some custard, fresh cream, or a scoop of ice cream. Or, fry it in slices the next day and have it for breakfast
Clootie Dumpling keeps very well, due to the high content of dried fruit. Keep any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge, where it will be good in the fridge for a week. Any longer, cut your dumpling into wedges and freeze them individually – it will be good in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Clootie Dumpling can be eaten cold but is best enjoyed whilst warmed up again (in the microwave, or wrapped in foil in the oven).
Self-raising FlourClootie Dumpling is a very dense pudding but we still opt for self-raising flour. This gives it a little bit of lift, which is seen more in the fact your dumpling “grows” as it cooks, as opposed to it becoming light and fluffy! The flour also helps bind everything together once the liquid is added to the mixture.
Caster SugarI opt for caster sugar because I like the sweetness it provides, however you can use a golden caster sugar or a brown sugar, if you’d prefer. The darker the sugar, the less sweet, more rich and deeper in colour your clooty dumpling will be.
SuetSuet is somewhat the secret ingredient in clootie dumpling recipes, that gives it the heavy, stodgy, stick-to-your-ribs texture which you would expect. Traditionally it would be a beef suet that is used, but much like with Jam Roly Poly, I’m not keen on the idea of beef being used in a sweet pudding. So I lean towards vegetable suet – but it’s purely personal preference.
BreadcrumbsI’ve seen some recipes use oats instead of breadcrumbs, but for me, breadcrumbs is where it is at when it comes to Clootie Dumpling. You want to be using fresh breadcrumbs, as opposed to the dry, panko-style kind. I just pop a slice of bread into my food processor and there you go – fresh breadcrumbs! One slice of a standard white bread is about right in terms of quantity. You could use oats if that’s what you expect in a Clootie Dumpling, but I find breadcrumbs to be much more understated (in terms of taste & texture), to the point you don’t even realise they are there, allowing the fruit and spices to take centre stage.
Mixed Spice and CinnamonThe ideal flavour combo to accompany dried fruits! My mother-in-law’s recipe for Clootie Dumpling did use a little less mixed spice and cinnamon, but after a bit of testing, I decided to up it marginally. That being said, Granny did point out that often in old family recipes, when they say “a teaspoon” of something, it probably wasn’t a level teaspoon measurement, and more likely a heaped teaspoon – and closer to the amounts this recipe actually states anyway.
Raisins & CurrantsStaying true to the family recipe, I have listed the dried fruits as raisins and currants. However, like Christmas Cake & Black Bun, you can experiment and use whatever dried fruits you prefer. Currants are great because their size means they disperse in the mixture very well. But you can mix & match your dried fruits to whatever you have available, or whatever your family likes best.
AppleAn apple adds a little extra texture, flavour and moisture to your Clootie Dumplig. Again, it’s personal preference what kind of apple you use – I tend to just opt for whatever is in the fruit bowl! A smaller apple is best for this recipe, but you could always use half an apple if you can only get your hands on larger apples.
TreacleAnother ingredient that goes along perfectly with the dried fruits and spices. Treacle not only adds a bit of depth to the flavours – it also adds a little colour and serves like a sticky glue!
MilkThe addition of milk to your dry clootie dumpling mix will transform it into a sticky, raw dumpling; ready for it’s cloot! You want cold milk, straight from the fridge – the aim is to keep the suet in bits before it gets to cooking, and cold milk helps achieve this.Traditionally it would be a whole-fat dairy milk used in a clootie dumpling, however you can use whatever milk you have available – it is quite a forgiving mix. I have even used soya milk, with great success!
• When it comes to your “cloot” or cloth, the options are pretty much endless. I use a muslin square, purely because I wanted them to make these pretty Clootie Dumpling photos. But you can use any old [clean] muslin cloth, tea towel or piece of cotton fabric. I’ve even heard of people using old pillow cases!
• When it comes to your pot, you want depth over width, and a lid is a must. Whilst filling your pot with water, only fill about half too two-thirds full. Once you add your dumpling, the water level will rise considerably. I usually keep a jug to hand and remove some of the water before adding my dumpling, then return the water to the pot once the dumpling is in. A hack I came up with after scalding myself with over-flowing water during my first Clootie Dumpling attempt! Ouch.
• You place a small saucer in the pot of water, to stop the dumpling from touching the bottom of the pot (the hottest area) and getting burnt. A saucer lifts it away and prevents this from happening. A saucer is the traditional method but I actually tend to use the lid of Pyrex casserole dish – it’s a little heavier and doesn’t rattle around quite as much.
• “Scalding” your cloot (ie. dipping it in the pot of boiling water) and dusting it with flour is an essential step – this is what forms the skin on your clootie dumpling. Don’t skip this! I find sifting the flour onto my damp cloot to be the most effective method for even distribution, but as long as your have a decent coating of flour, you’ll be grand. And you can tip/gently shake any excess flour into your bin or sink.
• You can simply tie your cloot with a piece of string and be done with it but I find there is a method of tying that makes your Clootie Dumpling experience far more enjoyable… You take your length of string (about half a metre), and fold it in half. You then take the looped end of the string and use this to tie around your cloot, feeding the string through the loop, before tying the ends round, and securing with a small knot. Next, you tie the loose ends of the string and drape this out the pot, securing around your pot handles or lid – this helps stop your dumpling from dancing around the pot too much, as well as making the removal of the dumpling so much easier.
• The saucer at the bottom of your pot will dance around, usually making a lot of noise. Don’t worry! This is normal but it doesn’t seem to be mentioned in most Clootie Dumpling recipes – no need to panic.
• Your dumpling may float whilst cooking. Again, this is normal but doesn’t seem to be mentioned in most Clootie Dumpling recipes. As long as there is enough water to cover your dumpling whilst fully immersed, it will be fine. You may need to top up with boiling water periodically as it evaporates. But don’t be concerned if it is floating – the movement, as well as the heat being kept in by the lid, will ensure the top (bottom?) of your dumpling is cooked, despite it seemingly trying to escape!
• Take your time removing the cloot – you don’t want to rip the skin off because you’re worried about burning your fingers! Start by removing it from the bottom and sides. Then use a plate to flip your dumpling, before removing the cloot from the top. Then gently flip it back onto it’s bottom, on top of a baking tray, ready to finish in the oven.
Gluten-free: I haven’t tried making a gluten-free Clootie Dumpling but in theory, it should be as easy as using gluten-free self-raising flour, gluten-free suet and gluten-free breadcrumbs. If you do try this recipe for gluten-free Clootie Dumpling, let me know how you get on!
Nut-free: This Clootie Dumpling recipe doesn’t contain any nuts but be sure to double check your individual ingredients for allergens.
Egg-free: This is an egg-free Clootie Dumpling recipe. But be sure to double check your individual ingredients for allergens, when making for someone with an egg allergy.
Dairy-free: To make this a dairy-free Clootie Dumpling recipe, simly use your favourite milk-alternative. I have used soya milk with great success but I think any plant-milk should work.
Vegan: To make this a vegna Clootie Dumpling recipe, simply use a vegetable suet and your favourite milk-alternative. I have used soya milk with great success but I think any plant-milk should work.
I remember my mum making this when I was wee. She turned it in front of the coal fire.
Used to get this as a birthday treat with hidden silver “thruppeny bits” wrapped in greaseproof paper hidden in it!! However many a time disappointed as it went down the sink because the water had got into it
Wee tip, turn the saucer upside down in the pot, it stops it rattling around. This is how my granny taught me.
Granny Mc made it and it brings very fond memories of staying with thr aged Grand p’s.
What a coincidence, I’ve just put my clottie dumpling in the oven to dry off. This was always a birthday treat from my Granny, with silver coins hidden. I use a large spaghetti pot with a strainer insert to make my dumplings, this makes it easier to get the dumplings out of the water.
Is it definitely apple? I was sure my nana used fruit peel? I could be wrong so just wondering?
Hi Janis. Definitely apple in this recipe, but recipes can vary from family-to-family. It’s not unheard of to add mixed peel to a Clootie Dumpling, so it is entirely possible that it was your Nana used. Hope that helps!
I use my slow cooker around 6 hours at high. You just need to fill to just below the rim and forget about it. You can go away and leave it. It is handy putting it on overnight ! No hassle
Hi Iszy. This is a great tip, would have never thought to try making Clootie Dumpling in a slow cooker! Thanks for sharing.
I remember, as a child, just arrived in Canada from Ireland and Scotland going to dinner at a family friend’s house. While there she said she was making dumplings and my Mum and I were so excited as we both loved Clootie Dumpling. Boy were we disappointed when these white tasteless lumps of dough sat on top of a very delicious beef stew!!!
That did make me chuckle, Helen. Definitely a different kind of dumpling!
Can this be cooked on the microwave please?
Hi Carolyn. For an authentic Clootie Dumpling with the classic “skin” finish, you really need to boil the dumpling in a “cloot”. Cooking in a microwave won’t allow for this. I believe there is some microwave Clootie Dumpling recipes online, but unfortunately I don’t think this one would be a good alternative to those.
Years since I made one,I stopped making them when it was just myself and my husband.You have prompted me to make one.and Im going to try one of your readers tips making it in the slow cooker,will let you know how I get on,wish me luck.
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