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Black Bun

Hogmanay ( 31 December ) and New Year's day ( 1 January ) are so closely associated with Scottish tradition that it may surprise Flag visitors to learn that before 1600 the New Year officially started in Scotland on March 25 ( Lady Day ). In 1599, James V1, King of Scots, and his Privy Council resolved to bring Scotland into line with other countries.
' The Kingis majestie and Lordis of his Secreit Counsall undirstanding that in all utheris weill governit commouns welthis and cuntreyis the first day of the yeir begynis yeirlie upoun the first day of Januare, commounlie callit new yeiris day, and that this realme onlie is different fra all utheris in the compt and reckning of the yeiris .... his Majestie with the advise of the Lordis of his Secreit Counsall statutis and ordanis that in all tyme cuming the first day of the yeir sal begin yeirlie upoun the first day of Januare ...'
                                                    from the Register of the Privy Council, 17 December 1599
The change reflected the adoption of the Gregorian calendar by European states in the 1580's and shows the Scots interntional outlook. England did not change the offical start of the legal year to January 1 until 1752. The Privy Council was a powerful legislative and administrative body, useful to the King because it was more easily influenced and controlled than the Scottish Parliament, The Three Estates. No celebration of a Scottish Hogmanay  would be complete without this weeks recipe. Black Bun is a must! Black Bun is a rich and delicious fruit cake formerly eaten on Twelve Night but nowadays served at Hogmanay. It should be made several weeks before it is needed, like a Christmas Cake, so that it can mature.
Black Bun
For The Casing : 8 oz flour; 4 oz butter; 1/2 teasp. baking powder; a little cold water; 1 beaten egg for finishing
For The Filling
2 lb seedless raisons; 3 lb currants; 1/2 lb choped blanched almonds; 3/4 lb flour; 1/2 lb sugar; 2 teasp. Jamaica pepper ( allspice ); 1 teasp. ground ginger; 1 teasp. ground cinnamon; 1/4 teasp. black pepper; 1 flat teasp. cream of tartar; 1 flat teasp. baking powder; 1 tablesp. brandy; 1/4 pt milk
To make the casing - rub the butter into the flour, add baking powder and mix to a stiff paste with water ( about 4 tablespoons ). Put on to a floured board, and roll out to a thin sheet. Grease a loaf tin 8 in by 4 in by 3 in and line with the pastry, keeping back enough for the lid.
To Prepare The Filling - mix all the filling ingredients together except the milk. Then add just enough milk to moisten the mixture. Put it into the lined tin and put the pastry lid on top, damping the edges well to make it stick. Prick all over with a fork, and with a thin skewer make four holes right down to the bottom of the cake, brush with beaten egg and cook in a slow ( 225 deg F ) oven for about three hours. It will keep for a year in an airtight tin.

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