Black Bun is a traditional Scottish cake, which is eaten on the last day of year, known as Hogmanay in Scotland. The name is deceptive of its form because the dish resembles more to a fruit cake than bun. Unlike fruit cake which is prepared in fruit mixed batter, the dish has thick pastry crust, which is surrounded by currant, brandied or raisin filling. Much alike the Christmas cake, this dish is prepared some days in advance, which allows brandied and currant raisin mixture to mature. Black bun is mostly served in form of loaves, but it is also prepared in form of tarts or pies. This cake is solid, sticky, and resembles Italian cake Panforte, which is prepared using citron and candied peel.
Origin of Black Bun
According to food historians, the first mention of the dish appears in texts of 16th century. They suggest that the earlier dish recipes may have been inspired by some Italian fruit cakes of the time. Over the time, this dessert became an integral part of Scottish celebrations. Previously, this dessert was only served during the twelfth night, but now it is associated with Hogmanay (Scottish New Years Eve). This cake is carried by first footers on New Year’s Eve. Most of the Scot elders love to remember this dessert as something which was uniquely prepared and served by grandmothers during the New Years Eve.
The first footers carry this cake and whiskey to many homes that they visit. They raise toast in the household which symbolizes their prayer for luck and prosperity to owners of house. Until some years ago, they also used to bring a lump of coal, but that tradition is extinct now.
Black Bun Recipe- Ingredients
The cake is prepared using handful of aromatic spices and dry fruits. Some of the traditional spices used in preparation of the cake include cloves, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Some black bun recipe variants may call for the usage of black pepper because it impacts overall taste of the cake. Other than that, plain flour and brown sugar are commonly used in the preparation of cake. At times, candied and citron peels are also used in preparation of the cake.
Black Bun Recipe- Preparation
The flour is mixed with sugar, spices and dry fruits, and the mixture is then combined with milk and egg whites, and whisked till it becomes frothy. Sometimes brandy or whiskey is added to the batter and the mix is baked for about three hours. A few variations of black bun may call for soaking currants and raisins in alcohol and water for sometime before adding to the batter.
Serving Suggestions of Black Bun
The cake is usually served with malt whiskey on New Year’s Eve.