…..till May is oot” is an old Scottish saying that means that the weather in Scotland can be very changeable and that it’s a foolish person who will change into their summer attire before the month of May has finished. There’s always a chance that Winter will come back just when you think you’re safe and bite you in the bum. Hey, my birthday is in May and I can recall shivering in Troon in the middle of a snowstorm in the ’80’s while I tried to celebrate it. It’s also an excellent way of introducing you to an old Scots word ‘cloot‘ which means ‘cloth’. We have a traditional dumpling, called a ‘Clootie Dumpling‘ which you wrap in a cloth before boiling it. You can also microwave it, and I have recently been given one, but I think that, for now, the traditional method is probably the best. If it isn’t broken, why try to fix it?
- 200g Self-raising flour
- 125g Vegetable suet
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 125g breadcrumbs
- 85g brown sugar
- 1 grated apple (no need to peel)
- 200g raisins or sultanas
- 1 tsp each of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 eggs
- 100ml milk
- Extra flour, for dusting
Take a large bowl and put the dry ingredients (flour, suet, baking powder, breadcrumbs, sugar, apple, raisins, and the spices) and mix them together. Break the eggs into a small bowl, whisk, and then add the golden syrup and the milk, and pour them into the dry ingredients. Mix it together, adding a spot more milk if required.
Boil a kettle and get out your largest saucepan and a saucer. Once the water has boiled put the saucer into the pan and fill it up to the halfway mark.
Take a clean tea towel and dip it into the boiling water. Use tongs or at least something to protect your hands. Wring out the cloth and thickly scatter the extra flour onto it.
Pile the pudding mix into the centre of the cloth.
Pull up the corners and tie them securely but not too tight. The pudding needs room to expand. Place it into the saucepan and turn the heat down to, well, I’d call it a lively simmer. Not quite a ‘rolling’ boil, but more than a simmer. Put a lid on to keep the heat in and don’t let it boil dry. Check it every half hour or so and make sure it doesn’t drop below halfway down the pudding. Top it back up with freshly boiled water, if necessary.
Boil it for 3 to 4 hours and then fish it out. It looks revolting.
Put it into a preheated oven (80˚C) for about half an hour. It loses the pale colour, dries out, and becomes a burnished brown colour.
Slice it thickly, and either serve it with custard, or with butter. Oh, and you can also fry it as part of a traditional Scottish cooked breakfast.