Hogmanay Black Bun recipe

December 31, 2018 8:27 am Published by Leave your thoughts

New Year’s Eve – or Hogmanay? No-one does the 31st December quite like the Scots! If you’re hosting your own Hogmanay celebration this year, or feeling an ancestral pull towards the land of mists, romance and squealing bagpipes, you’ll be delighted with this recipe for a traditional Scottish Hogmanay dish: black bun. Get cracking right now and you’ll have it done by midnight.

Black bun? Yes, please!

Black bun is what the first guest to your house – after the bells have chimed for midnight – should bring with them (along with some coal, salt and whisky), in the ceremony known as ‘first footing’. The guest should be male and dark-haired. Handsome is a nice touch, too.

Black bun has been enjoyed at Hogmanay for decades. Robert Louis Stevenson, way back in the late 1880s, described bakers’ shops piled high with it: ‘a dense black substance, inimical to life’.

Recipes have improved since then. It’s still a whopper of a cake, though: thick and rich with fruit, encased in shortcrust pastry. Paul Hollywood set it as a challenge once, on the Great British Bake-Off.

Image: IMBJR

Here’s his version. It serves a full shinty team or half a pipe band.


For the pastry

  • 300g/10½oz plain flour
  • 75g/3oz lard, cubed
  • 75g/3oz butter, cubed
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten, for glazing

For the filling


  1. For the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the lard and butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the salt, baking powder and four tablespoons of cold water and mix to a soft dough. Turn out and knead into a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 (fan 160C).
  3. For the filling, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll out two thirds of the pastry to a rectangle large enough to line the tin. Drape into the tin and press up against the sides. Spoon the filling into the tin, pressing down to compress.
  5. Roll out three quarters of the remaining pastry to a rectangle large enough to cover the tin. Dampen the edges of the pastry with water and press the pastry lid on top to seal. Trim the edges and crimp using the tines of a fork. Roll out the remaining pastry, along with any trimmings, and use to make a bow to decorate the top, then attach with a little water.
  6. Glaze with beaten egg and bake for two hours. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out.

Happy Hogmanay – Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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