My name is Kirsteen and I have always enjoyed baking.
I spent my early years in Inveraray, Argyll then moved to Moffat, Dumfriesshire. I always baked at weekends, helped by my mother and Aunty Bunty, a cookery teacher. I didn’t see Granny Beaton very often, she lived in Argyll, but she was always writing to me, enclosing recipes.
I studied Hospitality Management, at Queen’s College, Glasgow, then worked in London and Manchester before returning to Glasgow to work for the University of Glasgow. In 1995, I joined the Scottish Prison Service as a Facilities Manager. After my second daughter was born, I took a career break and in 2009, set up my own business, Queen of Hearts Cakes and Tarts, selling homebaking at farmers' markets around Glasgow.
In 2013, Scottish Ballet asked if I could cater for their Ballet Café event, to accompany their production of Matthew Bourne’s ‘Highland Fling’. The baking was to have a Scottish theme and I was asked if I could make a Clootie Dumpling. I had never made one before, but said yes.
I knew I had Granny Beaton’s recipe, somewhere. Here it is, not just a straightforward recipe, but full of tips, telling me exactly what to do. You will need to guess the quantities, I cannot give family recipes away …
Several attempts were needed to perfect the recipe. I had some extra dumpling leftover and sold it by the slice at Partick Farmers’ market. I was surprised at how quickly it sold and have been making it ever since. There have been small changes to the original recipe, for example, beef suet has been substituted with vegetable suet, making it suitable for vegetarians.
Bringing back memories
I love the chat on the stall and Clootie Dumpling has become a regular topic of conversation. Customers have fond memories of their mum, granny or aunty making Clootie Dumpling, reminiscing how they loved the fruity, rich smell of it cooking and having one on their birthday, instead of cake, with silver sixpences or thruppenny bits wrapped inside. Clootie Dumpling triggers emotions, its taste and smell bringing memories back to life.
These conversations made me realise Clootie Dumpling could still be as popular, and perhaps I could give the recipe a new lease of life. By this time, I had been trading at markets for a few years, got to know customers, appreciated that plain, simple food, nothing too fancy, sells well. With that in mind, I renamed my business Granny Beaton's and adapted the range to more traditional sweet and savoury fayre.
You can find me at Partick Farmers' market on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. In addition to Clootie Dumpling, I sell soups, tablet, potato scones, pancakes, empire biscuits and a range of traditional sponges and traybakes.
Clootie Dumpling makes an ideal gift, easy to post and travels well.