Black Bun

Black Bun

December 31: Hogmanay

Highlander grew up eating fruit cake, mince meat tarts and shortbread during the holiday season. Following Scottish tradition, he also snacks on slices of black bun during Hogmanay (Scottish word for “last day of the year”). The dessert gets its name from the dark and dense rich filling of raisins and currants. Moreover, ground black pepper is one of the dark spices included in the ingredients.

A popular tradition on Hogmanay, which is celebrated all night on new year’s eve until the wee hours of new year’s day, is “first-footing.” If a tall, dark-haired male is the first visitor to enter one’s home after midnight, he is considered the bringer of good luck in the coming year. The first-footer also brings presents, such as a coin, bread, salt, coal, whisky and, of course, black bun. These lucky gifts represent fortune, bounty, warmth and good cheer.

Celebrate the new year with a sweet Scottish black bun. Happy Hogmanay to all of our HI Cookery blog readers!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Scottish Heritage Food and Cooking” by Carol Wilson and Christopher Trotter)

For the “bun” pastry

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened and cut into cubes
  • cold water

Directions

Generously grease an 8-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the cubes of butter. Mix with fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Moisten with enough water until a dough is formed. Roll into a ball.

Black Bun

On a floured surface, roll out the dough thinly, making sure it is large enough to line the pan with a little overhang. Trim excess dough and roll out another piece large enough to cover the top of the pan. Set aside and make the filling.

Black Bun

For the “black” filling

  • 4 cups raisins
  • 3 cups currants
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped, sliced or slivered
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten (1 for the filling, 1 for the glaze)
  • 1-2 tablespoons brandy
  • 5 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the raisins with the currants. Mix in the flour and brown sugar.

Black Bun

Stir in the almonds. In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Mix the spices into the filling. Moisten with one beaten egg, brandy and milk.

Black Bun

Spoon the filling into the pastry, pressing down to pack it all in. Moisten the edges with a little water and cover with the remaining pastry. Trim with a knife as necessary. Press the edges to seal well.

Black Bun

Prick the top with the tines of a fork. Brush with egg glaze. Bake in a preheated oven at 225 degrees F for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Remove from the pan and wrap in foil. Store in an airtight container until Hogmanay.

Black Bun

When ready to serve, place onto a cutting board and slice to reveal the black filling.

Black Bun

Notes

  • Black Bun is traditionally made several weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container to allow the flavors to develop and mature. Then it is served on New Year’s Eve and Day.
  • See our shortbread recipes (traditional, chocolate and lemon) on January 6 (National Shortbread Day).

Champagne Chicken

Champagne Chicken

December 31: National Champagne Day

Bust out the bubbly and celebrate New Year’s Eve with champagne chicken! It is a rich and romantic dish to serve for an intimate candlelight dinner as we ring in the new year. If we are not spending this evening with family and friends, we simply cozy up as a couple in the comfort of our own home and eat something symbolic or special, such as champagne chicken. Then right before midnight, we change into our pajamas, watch television to see the crystal ball countdown in New York Times Square, kiss and quietly toast the end of another blessed year and pray for health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year. Highlander and Islander wish our blog readers and subscribers a Happy New Year’s Eve and Happy National Champagne Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from H.M.’s Food and Wine)

For the herb-breaded chicken cutlets

  • 4 thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

In a shallow dish, combine the flour, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in this mixture, shaking off the excess flour. Heat the olive oil and melt the butter together in a skillet.

Champagne Chicken

Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and keep warm. Prepare the champagne-mushroom cream gravy/sauce.

Champagne Chicken

For the champagne-mushroom cream gravy/sauce

  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour (from the herb-breaded chicken cutlets above)
  • ½ cup champagne, room temperature
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In the same skillet, saute the shallots, scraping the brown bits on the bottom. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened. Mix in the flour, adding a drop of olive oil if necessary to avoid burning. Pour in the champagne and chicken stock. Simmer for about two minutes. Stir in the cream until the gravy/sauce is lightly colored and slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. When serving the chicken cutlets, pour the gravy/sauce over them while hot.

Champagne Chicken

Notes

  • A sparkling wine may be used as a substitute for the champagne.
  • Champagne chicken is delicious over rice or pasta. Serve with a side of vegetables.
  • Search our blog for additional recipes for new year’s festive foods, including those we traditionally eat on Hogmanay (Scottish new year) and the Asian lunar new year.