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Stories and Stovies
Hamely Fair - Bread

top of the Hill where the Hilltown meets Strathmartine Road

This is from Dundee’s Evening Telegraph and was in the paper during our trip there about 1974. This is just at the top of the Hill where the Hilltown meets Strathmartine Road. Andrew G. Kidd, on the right is the baker where I got my first legal job, aged about 14. Just to the left of the clock, down that little road there is where I worked from the time I was 12 in the ice cream shop and helping as Rose and Mary’s housemaid. Hill Street is up to the right of the clock there. Those ladies with their shopping bags are waiting for the Number 3 bus that we could get on down at the Caird Hall where the street photograph of me was taken. Fond memories, indeed.

 Dundee Rolls

I remember the great smell of fresh bread that would waft all over the Top of the Hill from Haldane’s bakery, just to the right of the bus stop on Kinghorne Road – not too far from where I think my granny’s granny had her fishmonger shop. Not only was milk delivered in the mornings to Dundee housewives, but also fresh – often warm – rolls were often left by the bakery delivery boy. Oh, there’s nothing like a warm, soft, floury Scottish roll spread with Robertson’s jam or dipped into homemade Scotch broth.

4 cups sifted flour 2 heaped tblsp lard (I used oil)
1 package yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 to 2 cups of milk

Blend 2 cups of your flour with the salt in a warm bowl.

Dissolve the yeast in the milk, warm to the thumb, then add the sugar and shortening.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and put in the yeast, milk, sugar and shortening or oil. Beat well and blend in as much as you can of the remaining flour. Knead in the balance of the flour, shape into a ball, sprinkle with flour and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Turn out on to a floured board, knead lightly, then form into roll shapes.

Put on to a greased baking sheet, brush with milk, and dust with a sprinkling of flour.

Leave again for 15 minutes, make a small dent in the middle with your thumb and bake in a hot 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

This makes about 10 rolls.

I’m still practicing on this one to get it to be a little more like the ones I remember. Let me know what improvements you make.

 Aberdeen Butteries

Aberdeen was a great fishing town when I was in Scotland. My mother and gran and I would always spend a day in Aberdeen as part of our "day here and a day there" Summer holidays. We’d buy the rolls there for which Aberdeen was famous. These Butteries are flaky, fat laden rolls – kind of like a croissant - that tradition has that Aberdeen fisherman used to take out to the wild and cold North Sea fishing areas because the fat content would help keep the men warm out in those harsh elements.

You couldn't buy butteries anywhere else but Aberdeen. (Maybe it was really like Forfar Bridies, or Dundee Pies – they tasted best from the city of their origins.) On our trips to Aberdeen we would just stroll around the "Granite City" as it was known since the majority of buildings, including the houses and tenements, were made of granite - like the Salt Lake Temple is.

A highlight would be taking a bus ride around the town and checking out the big prison there, Peterhead, and being glad we weren't inside those walls. Then, at the end of our day trip, we'd come home, bringing baps with us. This is a recipe for about 2 dozen.

By the way, the first person I every really planned to marry, Richard Albiston, was from Aberdeen. We even talked about getting married. He was about 20, I was 16 or so, and he was in the Royal Air Force and was going to Borneo with the troops. I really liked him, and he was really nice to me. I knew his sister, Gloria from Church and I remember going to Aberdeen on a couple of occasions and staying with his family and him coming down to Dundee to see me. We met in Glasgow, I think, when the prophet David O. McKay came to organize the Glasgow Stake of the Church. But I was too young and my desire to come to America was too strong for me and we parted.

Up until a few weeks ago as I rewrite this book for the Web I wondered where Richard was now and hoped he was still active in the Church and his life is happy. Well, this is a "world is a small place" story – my daughter Adriana is on the tennis team in her high school and her coach is, get this, a Scotsman from – ABERDEEN! The Coach’s parents are over here visiting and his father and I met and got to talking. Turns out they are friends of the Albiston’s and know Richard, his parents, and Gloria.

It was nice to get caught up and send love and best wishes back to these fine people in Aberdeen.

Anyhow, here's the recipe --

3 cups flour
1 pkg dried yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup shortening, but the Aberdonians used lard
2/3-cup butter or margarine
1 level tablespoon granulated sugar

Sieve the flour into a warm mixing bowl.

Mix yeast, salt and sugar, and add to the flour along with the lukewarm water.

Mix together and set in a reasonably warm place to rise. Keep covered with a warm damp towel while it rises.

Beat fats until blended, then divide into three equal parts. Roll out dough into a strip on a floured board.

Fold in three and roll out flat as you would for puff, or flaky, pastry. Repeat twice. Divide into oval bun shapes.

Put apart on a greased and floured tray and let rise, or prove, in a warm place for another thirty minutes or so, then bake in a fairly hot oven (400 degrees) for about 25 minutes.

Reduce the heat as the rolls cook.

(I’m still working on this recipe to get the rolls to turn out as I remember them!)

details the Hilltown Clock in an earlier era

This old picture is taken out of Dundee By Gaslight, and details the Hilltown Clock in an earlier era. I wonder if it kept time then? It certainly didn’t when I could lean out of our bedroom window and look down the street to it.

Those shades on the windows of the shops in the tenements behind the bakery are covering shops I used to go – one was the chemist where my mother would send me to get the winter emulsion I wrote about earlier that she used instead of cod liver oil. And when I fell down the Law and got the concussion and needed ointment for my bleeding knees – and I still have the scars – were bought there, as well as the hot water bottles, and the various powders (medicines you mixed with water) to treat the colds and chills and bronchitis, etc., of a Scottish winter.

I don’t doubt that lads and lasses in the time of this picture met up with each other "at the Clock" just like we used to!


I used to think that Wallace's the Bakery, as opposed to Wallace's Dundee Pie Shop, had as part of their insignia "Land o' Cakes" because Dundonians ate so much cake. But that's not so - Scotland was known as the "land of cakes" as a pejorative, in a derogatory fashion, by our cousins who shall be nameless and blameless but live south of the Tweed and were conquered by the Romans and we weren't and were protected by Emperor Hadrian and his wall that was built between our borders to keep us out and Robert the Bruce, in addressing his troops, according to Burns, before Bannockburn as "Scots wha ha'e wi' Wallace bled" described them as all round nasty folks.

We, however, took this insult to us and the oatcakes that were a staple factor of the historic Scottish diet and made it a symbol of national pride. Scottish soldiers carried a flat plate and a wallet of oatmeal in much the same way that later, American revolutionaries - and we all know the proud history of Scots in the forming of this country and dying for it in 1776 - carried their cornmeal pouches. Using a little water, the Scottish soldier was always able to make an oatcake over an open fire.

And speaking of Scottish soldiers, I was raised by my mother and Granny with the conviction that it was no accident that the English troops (in recent history) always seemed to go into battle after the Scotsmen and their piper. (My father, according to my mother, always used to sing the Englishman's favorite World War II song as "There'll always be an England … as long as Scotland stands.")

Anyhow, here's how to make oatcakes:

2 cups fine oatmeal
1 tbsp liquid fat
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt

Good dripping or bacon fat is ideal for oatcakes, and must be melted before using. Put oatmeal into a bowl, add the salt and bicarbonate of soda, then pour in the fat and mix a little. Now quickly pour in enough boiling water to make a soft dough and roll into a lump.

Scatter more oatmeal over a baking board, and knead the dough on it, working it to a smooth ball. Spread the dough out with the knuckles, sprinkling oatmeal over and under as required, then roll it out to about 1/8th inch in thickness. Use the palm of the hand to rub off most of the oatmeal then brush it over.

Cut the cakes into triangles and bake on a fairly hot girdle, turning the cakes when they are brown. Finish off in front of the fire or in a hot oven. Serve with cheeses, butter, cold meats, jams, etc.

My mother still likes a good oatcake served with butter or jam. And I’m sure there were quite a few oatcakes consumed by the generations of McIntoshes and Beats and Benvies and Hacketts and Lackies and Stewarts and Clarks and Duncans and everyone else who is part of our genealogy who lived in the Hilltown. Bucklemaker’s Wynd is a street name that was revived when the Hilltown was redeveloped and the tenements raised. Here’s an old picture from Dundee by Gaslight of the original Bucklemaker’s Wynd on the steep Hilltown.

the original Bucklemaker’s Wynd on the steep Hilltown

Here’s another use for oats, taken from the Dundee Telegraph during our trip there, around 1967 – I think I might have said 1974, earlier. If I did, that was definitely wrong, because when I went back Johnny was 6, Tina 5, and Stephanie 6 months.


Mention the word "poultice" to the average young married and she will smile pityingly.

The poultice, she may explain, became old fashioned when she was a child. She may add, "And a good thing too – nasty, messy things."

But the poultices – including the kaolin preparations which you can buy in a tin – is a valuable and a versatile adjunct to healing. It may just soften the parts, as when a bread poultice is used on a scab.

It can soothe irritated nerves or relax a muscle that is taut or tense. Its warmth may increase the flow of blood through the affected part. And it is extremely useful for the relief of pain and deepseated inflammation.

But one rule should never be forgotten – never slap a poultice on an open wound. Germs are extremely fond of something moist and soft and warm in which to breed.

Apart from the kaolin poultice, the so-called old fashioned kinds – bread, mustard, linseed, starch, and oatmeal – are effective and can be invaluable in an emergency.


Bread poultice is a nice, soothing one.

To make it you break up stale bread in a basin, add enough boiling water to soak the crumbs, cool, drain off surplus moisture, spread on a cloth, and cover with muslin. It is then ready for immediate use.

To make a linseed poultice you pour freshly crushed linseed into half a pint of boiling water, stirring all the time and adding enough linseed to make a sticky mixture, but thin enough to spread.

Transfer it quickly on to a piece of linen or flannel, spreading it with a table knife. When it is in place cover it with something light to keep the moisture in, some cottonwool to keep the heat in, and a bandage to keep the whole thing in position.

It is important when renewing the poultice to be sure that the new one is ready to put on. Failure to do this risks a chill.

"Hotted Up"

Oatmeal poultice is simply a lump of hot, sticky porridge and is used for the same sort of thing as its linseed counterpart – to reduce inflammation.

A mustard poultice is a kind of "hotted-up" linseed poultice. You first make a linseed poultice, then add some mustard flour (one part of mustard to four parts of linseed for a grown-up; one part mustard to six parts linseed for a child). Add lukewarm water and stir to a smooth paste.

A mustard poultice should not be left on longer than about 20 minutes, and a piece of muslin should be placed between the mustard and the skin.

For a starch poultice, take a teaspoonful of boric acid to four tablespoons of cold water starch, mix with a little cold water, pour in a pint of boiling water, stir till thickened, allow to get cold, spread on a piece of cotton, cover with muslin – and it is ready. It can be left on for several hours.


Apart from poultices there are those other useful aids to healing – fomentations, which may be used to allay inflammation.

A fomentation is a hot cloth applied to the skin. The cloth is dipped in hot water and wrung out.

It is useful for many things, but when used for boils or carbuncles it must not be overdone or the skin may become soggy and open to infection.

For that reason cold applications such as an Epsom salts paste are also used.

Fomentations do a good pain-soothing job. Also they bring more blood to where it is needed and so help to clear up an infection.

But beware – if they are overdone or done for too long they may be the reverse of helpful.

And they must not be applied to an open wound except by a doctor or qualified nurse, otherwise there may be a serious risk of infection, as in the case of a poultice.

Now, I imagine after reading all this you’re ready for some "Tea Time Delights." If you are, read on ….

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