A Scottish-American wedding in Montrose,
Scotland. This is the wedding family group of Christine and Larry Keeter (Johns best
friend when he was at the US Navy Base, RAF Edzell, Scotland). John is the best man on the
left. Neither John nor I realized the best mans obligation was to be the escort of
the chief bridesmaid when he took me to the wedding as his date. And we never did
apologize for not understanding this. If I ever meet up with Larry or Christine again,
Ill have to make up for this, I think.
Taste of Scotland's Dundee Cake
Remember, Keillor's made the best Dundee Cake in Dundee!
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 small eggs
1 heaped tablespoon ground almonds
1 cup sultanas or seedless raisins
1 cup currants
1 cup (scant) chopped, mixed peel
2 tablespoons milk, previously boiled and cooked with 1tbsp sugar
1 cup (scant) halved glace cherries
Grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon brandy or rum
1/4 cup blanched split almonds
pinch of salt
Prepare dried fruits as follows: Several hours prior to
making the cake, put the glace cherries, sultanas, currants and peel into a casserole, mix
thoroughly, cover with a lid or foil and put into a slow oven (220) until well heated
through, stirring at least once with a fork, for about 20 minutes or until mixture is
Cream the butter, cream in the sugar, and
when white and creamy add eggs one at a time alternately with good sprinking of flour,
beating well all the time. Stir in the ground almonds, and add dried fruits, peel and
lemon rind and juice, also pinch of salt.
Mix the remaining flour with the baking powder, mix it into
the mixture, and finally stir in the brandy or rum. Turn into an 8" cake pan that has
been greased and lined with wax paper. Cover with foil and bake in a slow to moderate oven
(300) for about 2:1/2 hours.
Half-way through the cooking time remove the paper and
scatter the split almonds on top. Test for doneness with a skewer (here in America you
have "cake testers" with little chef's heads on them - so stick the chef's head
in the cake!) before removing from the oven, and 5 minutes before it is ready brush over
the top with the sweetened milk, then put it back to give it a nice glaze when dry.
Remove from oven and let become completely cold. Do not
remove from pan until cold.
Since were calling this the Special Occasion cake section, and I showed a
picture of wedding cake, heres my grannys wedding picture with my grandfather,
grandmother, my grannys father and her half sister Mary McIntosh Forbes.
Strathspey cake is often used as birthday cake and
christening cake. The tradition of saving the top tier of the cake for the first
anniversary cake is also Scottish the nice thing is if you put this great cake in
an airtight tin, you dont have to worry about freezing it for a year like you do
American wedding cake.
In the old days, it wasnt unusual for the first baby to
come in the first year of marriage look at our genealogy charts and youll see
that often happened in our family so this cake could also serve as Christening
cake. So, let me tell you a Christening story:
One Scottish tradition is to "wet the bairn's head"
with a glass of whisky all round for luck, health, and prosperity. But the one I really
like is this - because I remember once I was out walking one Sunday with my mother and we
were stopped by this family walking home from Church with a baby in Christening clothes.
They said something to my mother, my mother gave them a coin, and I got this great bag of
cake and sweeties. She told me later they had a little girl who had just been Christened
and in order to ensure good luck for their baby, and a generous spirit and prosperity
enough to share with others, on her behalf they gave away a bag of gifts to the first
young girl they meet after her Christening. My mother gave a silver coin in return as a
blessing to the new baby from me. I like that memory.
And, to round of this romantic and baby memories section,
heres my wedding picture:
Charlotte's Granny's Clootie Dumpling
Diddle, diddle, dumpling,
My son, John,
Went to bed with his stockings on.
One shoe off, and one shoe on,
Diddle, diddle, dumpling,
My son, John.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating his Christmas pie.
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!"
Flour of England, fruit of Spain,
Met together in a shower of rain.
Put in a bag, and tied round with a string,
If youll tell me this riddle,
Ill give you a ring.
When we were living in Germany, I wrote my Granny and asked
her to send me the recipes for the two things I was missing the most at that time - her
Clootie Dumpling and her scones.
Granny always made a dumpling for birthdays. I remember
watching her putting all the ingredients together, then listening to the dumpling bubble
in its boiling water on the stove, and then, finally, Granny taking it out of the pot, out
of its cloot, and placing it on a plate.
But it wasn't done yet - the next step in this often repeated
process (after all I did have 18 birthdays in Scotland) was when she placed it on one of
the black leaded hobs of the fire to steam. And only when it had reached the right point
of shinyness, but not dryness, would she even consider listening of my pleas to start
Granny would have hot, thick, Bird's custard poured all over
that great pudding and it was so good. Even the leftovers, cold for breakfast or a team
time treat were delicious.
Here's Clootie Dumpling, just as my Granny wrote it to me on
a sheet of blue air mail paper:
1:1/2 lbs flour self raising
1/2 lb currants
1/2 lb raisins
2 heaped dinner spoons mixed spice
3 qts of breakfast sugar
Put flour in bowl, add sugar and spice, add currants and
raisins, mix up well, then gently add water and mix. Don't make to damp, just stiff
On your machine run up a bag, any old piece of linen, but
tight not to let in water. Put a small plate in bottom of your pot 3/4 full of cold water.
When its boiling put in dumpling and keep simmering for 2:1/4 hours. If water boils in add
more boiling water in your pot.
Remember to tie dumpling in cloth tight near top with string.
You can add a little more sugar or fruit if you want to. Hope it turns out well. Place on
plate in over or in front of fire to dry off.
Water must be boiling before dumpling goes in pot. Shake a
little flour over dumpling before you put in bag.
Heres a similar recipe taken from a newspaper clipping,
must have been either the "Courier" or the "Telly" (Evening Telegraph
and Post), from when I took Johnny, Tina and Stephanie back to Dundee for about six weeks
in the summer of 1974:
"A friend tells me he had a delightful meal at Logierait
Hotel. One of the most enjoyable items on the menu was clootie dumpling with
I phoned the owners of the hotel, Mr. And Mrs. Jim
Macfarlane, and asked if theyd give me the recipe for the dumpling.
Mrs Macfarlane says it was handed down from her
mother-in-law, who had probably received it from her own mother in turn.
The recipe is:
1 cup fine bread crumbs
2 cups of self-raising flour
1 cup of Atora suet
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
Pinch of salt
One and a half cups raisins
One and a half cups sultanas
One cup of warmed treacle
One cup of milk with one egg beaten into it.
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and add warmed
treacle, milk and egg. Mix thoroughly. Turn into a floured and dampened cloth. Tie end
firmly and put into boiling water and boil for at least four hours. The final product can
be served with custard or brandy sauce. It may be left until cold and then sliced."
When I recently made this, I combined my grannys recipe
with this one, and it came out somewhere near perfect. Marva, my neighbour down the
street, calls this Scottish Raisin Bread and is always asking me to make it for her. At
least, unlike haggis, I have someone to help me eat this delicacy!
And, you know, its possible that I had
my granny make me a dumpling for when the 12 guests we had at our wedding came back to the
house for a drink and a few biscuits after our wedding lunch at the Breadalbane Arms,
across the street from the old Howff graveyard. And this is a fine excuse for me to go
back to the wedding thoughts we started this section with, and show you a picture of my
wedding cake. If youll look closely youll see a little black sweep
every bride in Scotland, Im sure, at that time was given a silver horseshoe and a
sweep for luck. Adriana now has the silver (cardboard wrapped in silver paper, really)
horseshoe, but I still have the miniature autograph album with our guests names in it.