Read on for my recipe for Scottish Black Bun.
Scotland is a land full of traditions and New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as we call it holds many of them. Food and drink play a big part in our celebrations and this Black Bun cake is one of the goodies that are on offer on this important night.
Black Bun is is one of the many specialties of New Year here in Scotland. Originally it would have been eaten on Twelfth Night but nowadays Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is when this brick like cake is usually wheeled out.
I say brick like not to be derogatory about the weight of the cake (tho it is on the weighty side, no the damn thing does actually look like a brick, a pastry brick. I sprayed mine gold for a festive touch so I like to think of mine as bullion, solid gold bullion!
A wee bit of history
Originally the pastry case was made from inedible pastry that was just there to protect the cake during the baking process. It would have been broken off and dumped before the cake was eaten. More recently the pastry has been greatly improved and is now a special feature of this rich dense fruitcake.
For me it was always a very grown up sort of cake. My Mum would make the black bun in the first week of December every year and set it aside to mature and be ready to make its appearance on Hogmanay as the bells tolled the midnight hour and first footers would be welcomed in. My brother and I would be allowed to stay up late and would wait in eager anticipation for the black bun and the other gorgeous goodies my mum would have prepared for family and friends who had come to welcome the New Year in.
Lots of ingredients
Black Bun is a cake with a lot of ingredients, but don’t let that put you off, it actually comes together quite easily and is well worth the effort.
NOTE; For a really festive look you can spray the outside casing with edible gold spray.
Happy New Year when it comes.
Black Bun, Scotland's New Year Cake
- PASTRY CASING
- 350 g/12oz plain flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 25 g/1oz caster sugar
- 175 g/6oz butter
- 6 tablespoons iced water
- 450 g/1lb currants
- 450 g/1lb raisins
- 175 g/6oz candied mixed peel
- 225 g/8oz chopped almonds
- 225 g/8oz plain flour
- 225 g/8oz soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon each of ground ginger allspice powder, grated nutmeg and cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons whisky or brandy
- Milk to bind it together
- Egg yolk for glaze
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease and line a 2lb (1kg) loaf tin.
- This is a two part process so make the pastry first by sifting the dry ingredients into a large bowl and rubbing in the butter. It is best to chop the butter into tiny pieces and rub in with just the finger tips. Add iced water to form a stiff dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Flour your work surface and roll the pastry thinly. Press this into the tin ensuring it is evenly distributed, make sure that you have enough left over to make the lid for the top!
- Now on to stage 2, the easy bit; To make the cake filling simply put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly, stir in the eggs and whisky and add enough milk to bind it all together.
- Pack it into the pastry case and level off the top. Cover with the remaining pastry to form a lid and seal all edges firmly together. Prick all over with a fork and brush with the egg yolk to glaze.
- Bake for 2 hours at the full heat and then reduce the oven temperature to 140C/275F/Gas 1 and bake for a further 1 hour until the top is golden.
- Let it cool before turning out of the tin.
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