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How to make Black Bun

Black Bun is a specialty Scottish cake that is typically eaten on Hogmanay (New Years Eve). The cake resembles a brick in form, a dense fruit-cake wrapped in pastry which typically gets its richness due to being made and set aside to mature for several weeks. The pastry was originally made from inedible pastry designed to protect the cake during baking before being discarded. But today the pastry is a delicious feature of the traditional fruitcake and is sometimes coated with edible paint to create a festive New Year’s dessert. Although there are many ingredients that go into making this cake the method is not difficult.

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  1. Rub the butter or margarine into the flour and salt and then mix in enough cold water to make a stiff dough. Roll out and cut the pastry into six pieces using the loaf tin as a guide. Grease the tin and press the bottom and side pieces into the tin on each of the four sides. Press the overlaps to seal the pastry shell.

  2. Mix together the raisins, currants, almonds, peel and sugar. Sift in the flour, the spices and baking powder. Bind them together using the brandy and most of the egg. Add enough milk to bind the mix together.

  3. Spoon the filling into the pastry lined tin. Add the remaining section of pastry as a lid, pinch the edges together and use the remaining egg or milk to seal it. Using a skewer, make four holes to the bottom of the tin, and using a fork gently prick the surface of the pastry.

  4. To glaze, brush the top with milk or egg and place in a pre-heated oven at 325F/160C/Gas Mark 3 for 2½ to 3 hours. When you think it is ready, test with a skewer until it comes out clean.

  5. Leave it to cool and then turn onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly. Store until Hogmanay.

  6. Tip

    To give the cake a festive look, paint with edible gold paint.

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Things You'll Need

  • 20cm/8-inch Loaf Tin
  • Skewer
  • For the pastry casing:
  • 350g/12oz plain flour
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 175g/6oz butter/margarine
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • For the filling:
  • 450g/1lb currants
  • 450g/1lb raisins
  • 225g/8oz chopped almonds
  • 175g/6oz chopped mixed peel
  • 225g/8oz soft brown sugar
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 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 (enough to bind it together)
  • Egg yolk for glaze

About the Author

Helen Tickner is a writer and researcher. Since graduating from a degree in Literature and International Relations in 2009 she has written about subjects including politics and sustainability. She has worked for a range of independent newspapers, art and design magazines, and human rights NGO’s.

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