Dumplings boiled and baked

Dumplings boiled and baked

I have always been interested in History and the older I get the more interested I become. It’s learning something new about something that is old. For the last several years, I have become very interested in the history of baking recipes and their origins and how “cooking” methods can change but the basics stay the same.

Recently, I was introduced to a cooking technique called sous vide. Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. You cook your food in vacuum sealed bags to a very precise temperate in a water bath. The technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method. I am getting ahead of myself now and I will talk more about this cooking method later in the year. Back to the dumpling…

Clootie dumpling?? What is that !! I was asked to make one for a friends mother -so off I went.

I began my research on the clootie dumpling and this what I discovered - is a spice pudding loaded with dried fruits and spices that is wrapped in a cloth and simmered for several hours in water. There are lots of recipes for clootie dumplings so that means lots of people are making them. Now that is out of the way, let me tell you all about it…

Clootie dumpling is a traditional Scottish pudding associated with Christmas and Hogmanay (New Years). Let me explain the “pudding”. If you have ever watched the Great British Baking Show, you will know that is not an American pudding - like Jello pudding for example. In the UK , a pudding is a sweet preparation served at the end of meal much the same as dessert is served at American at the end of the meal. Pudding in American would be called custard in the UK. In the UK, pudding are cooked by being boiled or steamed in a dish or cloth. So that’s how the clootie dumpling gets its name.

Cloot is Scots for cloth and gets its name for the cloth is boiled in. The method for cooking puddings in cloth goes back hundreds of years. The first recorded recipe was in the Art of Cookery - see below. The author named it “Boiled Plum Pudding.” It was later discovered many of the recipes written in this cookery book were not the author’s recipes - but that is another story.

The Art of Cookery.png
recipe from  The Art of Cookery - Made Plain and Easy - Hannah Glasse

recipe from The Art of Cookery - Made Plain and Easy - Hannah Glasse

Ingredients listed below

Ingredients listed below

The recipe I made was from the National Trust for Scotland - Christmas recipe- Clootie Dumpling. The recipe is shown below as taken from their website.:

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Servings: 6


125g suet
250g plain flour
125g oats
150g sultanas
125g currants
1 tbsp golden syrup
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp milk
1 tbsp flour for the cloth
Custard or ice cream, to serve (optional)


1. In a large bowl, rub the suet into the flour. Then add the oats, baking powder, sugar, sultanas, currants, ginger and cinnamon. Stir well, then add the beaten eggs and golden syrup. Stir thoroughly and add the milk, a little at a time, to bind the ingredients together to create a firm dough. Be careful not to over mix or make the mixture too sloppy – it should be firm to the touch.

2. Put the clootie cloth into the sink and pour a kettle of boiling water over. Once cool enough to touch, wring the cloth out. Place the cloth on your work surface and sprinkle with flour.

3. Place the dumpling mixture into the centre of the clootie, gather up the edges of the cloth and tie up but not too tightly; leave a little room for the dumpling to expand.
4. Place a saucer or tea plate upside down into a large cooking pot. Place the tied cloot onto the saucer and cover with boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 3 hours. From time to time, check that the pot is not boiling dry and top up with water if needed.

5. Once cooked, carefully remove the dumpling from the water. Remove the cloth then sprinkle the dumpling with a little caster sugar and place into an oven at 100°C/ 225°F for 30 minutes, or until a shiny skin forms. If you wish to be more traditional, then dry the sugar-covered dumpling in front of an open fire.

6. Serve the Clootie Dumpling with custard or ice cream, and enjoy!

Dumpling ready to be wrapped and boiled.

Dumpling ready to be wrapped and boiled.

So, now that’s how you make Clootie Dumpling. You can also bake a dumpling in a special dumpling pan, but it would not be a clootie dumpling - hence the clootie. But for me that’s the fun in it- learning new recipes that introduce me to “new but old” techniques- like making a dessert by wrapping it in a cloth and cooking in a pot of simmering water- who would have thought ! So if you are ready this and had never heard of Clootie Dumplings is just goes to show - you learn something new everyday!