Black Bun – Scottish Hogmanay Cake

4.8/5 - (12 votes)

Black Bun which I understand is also known as Scotch Bun is a rich fruit cake. The cake is encased in pastry. It is enjoyed at Hogmanay in Scotland. It is a cake which was originally served on Twelfth Night. But this days it is at Hogmanay.

I hadn’t really heard about this pastry wrapped cake until recently. So I was intrigued to read about it and to try it. I have based my cake on a recipe on BBC Food.

The cake is unusual since it is encased in pastry. That is something I haven’t encountered before. The ingredients for the cake are consistent with many rich fruit, or Christmas, cakes. Lots of dried fruits and mixed peel as well as spices. Some alcohol is included too. I suspect that is usually whisky, since it is a Scottish cake, but I used brandy.

Black Bun/ or Scotch Bun

The main difference in my version is that instead of buttermilk I used semi-skimmed milk. Personally I am not sure that makes a significant difference to the end result.

The recipe isn’t difficult, but it does take some time to make. There are distinct steps too. Make the pastry. Prepare the filling. Roll out the pastry and line a loaf pan. Fill the pastry and top with more pastry. Then bake the cake for two hours. It has to be allowed to cool, completely, in the pan so the pastry is nice and firm when turned out.

Then it is ready to serve. This is a cake which can be made in advance. So making it now is fine, it will keep well for New Year’s Eve. But, of course, there is also time after all the Christmas celebrations to make it too.

My Black Bun

I found it all very easy to make and I baked my Black Bun/Scotch Bun cake for 2 hours. Then I set it aside until it had cooled completely.

After that I turned it out of the loaf pan and sliced it. The pastry was crisp and crumbly and the cake inside was deliciously rich and moist. The fruit was nicely distributed too.

Black Bun, Sliced

I tasted it first just by itself and I have to say it was delicious. Then I tried some more, with butter spread on it and I enjoyed that more.

This is a rich and heavy cake, of the type I enjoy at this time of year.

I don’t know how the Scots enjoy it at Hogmanay, but I believe it is often served for first footing. Indeed it seems that the first-footer should deliver a gift, such as Black Bun, to the house he(or she) is visiting.

Black Bun/Scotch Bun – Scottish Hogmanay Cake – Video

If you haven’t made your Christmas Cake yet, and wish to do one, here is Last Minute Mincemeat Christmas Cake, which is my favourite.

Black Bun – Scottish Hogmanay Cake

Recipe by Adapted from BBC FoodCourse: Cakes, ChristmasCuisine: ScottishDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Pastry
  • 300g(2 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour

  • 75g(5 tbsp+1 tsp) unsalted butter, cold and cubed

  • 75g(5 tbsp+1 tsp) lard, cold and cubed

  • 2g(1/2 tsp) baking powder

  • pinch of salt

  • 60ml (4 tbsp) cold water

  • Beaten egg for egg wash

  • Cake Filling
  • 200g(1 1/3 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour

  • 600g(about 4 1/4 cups) dried fruits combination, raisins, currants, sultanas

  • 100g(3/4 cup) chopped mixed peel

  • 100g(1/2 cup) dark brown muscovado sugar( dark brown sugar is fine, or even light brown sugar)

  • 45ml(3 tbsp) milk

  • 30ml(2 tbsp) brandy or whisky(or extra milk, or use orange juice)

  • 1.5g (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon

  • 1.5g (1/2 tsp) ground ginger

  • 1.5g (1/2 tsp) ground allspice

  • 1.5g (1/2 tsp) ground mixed spice

  • 1g (1/4 tsp) white pepper

  • 2g( 1/2 tsp) baking soda

  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)


  • Grease and line a 900g(2lb) loaf tin with parchment paper.
  • Place the flour, salt and baking powder into a food processor and add the butter and lard, and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs( or you can rub it all between your fingers to achieve the same result).
  • Add about 3 tbsp of the cold water and mix again until the mixture begins to clump into a dough. Add the remaining water if necessary to achieve this.
  • Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  • Place the flour and all the spices together with the baking soda into a large bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add the sugar and stir to combine
  • Then add the dried fruits and mixed peel and stir them around to mix in.
  • Pour in the egg, milk and brandy and mix until everything is fully combined, then set aside.
  • Take 2/3 of the pastry dough and place it onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll it out into a rectangle large enough to line your loaf pan.
  • Place the pastry into the pan and press it onto the base and sides, patching as necessary.
  • Spoon the cake mixture into the pastry and use the back of a spoon to level it off, pressing down gently.
  • Roll the remaining pastry into a rectangle large enough to cover the top of the pan.
  • Brush egg wash around the edge of the pastry in the pan.
  • Place the rolled out lid on the top and press down around the edges, crimping in whichever manner you wish.
  • Brush the top with egg wash and add any pastry decorations you may wish to make from scraps of pastry.
  • Place the pan into the oven and bake for 2 hours.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely while still in the loaf pan.
  • When it is fully cooled turn it out and serve, or wrap tightly in foil and plastic wrap and store in an airtight container until New Year’s Eve.

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