Scotch black bun

Makes 12-18 squares
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I'd heard about black buns long before I ever set eyes on them. When I finally saw them in the deli at Loch Fyne, they looked like giant Garibaldi biscuits. Maybe the Garibaldi was the snack-sized version for carrying around in your pocket, because you certainly wouldn't want to carry this hefty cake around with you. Our photographer Jason Lowe was with me at the time, and happily munched on them after we'd finished the shoot. Which seemed apt, though it's more conventional to eat them after shooting game rather than photographs.

Black bun is now also at feature of Hogmanay but originally would have been eaten on Twelfth Night. It makes an interesting variation on Christmas cake, though, and should be made several weeks before.

For the pastry casing

250g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
125g butter, cut into small pieces
Cold water to mix (about 80-100ml)
1 small egg beaten to glaze f

For the filling

330g raisins
500g currants
85g flaked almonds, chopped, or nibbed almonds
120g plain flour
80g soft brown sugar
1tsp ground allspice
1/2tsp each of ginger, cinnamon and black pepper
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp cream of tartar
2tbsp whisky
50ml milk

To make the pastry, sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl then rub in the butter with your fingers until it is a breadcrumb-like consistency. Mix to a stiff dough with the water. Divide the pastry into two and roll out the first piece on a lightly floured board to about 1/3cm thick and large enough to line a rectangular 16 x 26cm sponge tin, 3-4cm deep, allowing for a little overlapping. Roll the second piece large enough to fit the top.

Pre-heat the oven to 140C/gas mark 1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling together and press into the pastry then fold any excess pastry over. Place the rest of the pastry on top and prick all over with a fork and brush with the egg. Bake for 31/2 hours, leave in the tin to cool then cut into useable squares. Store in an airtight tin for up to six weeks.

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