Cranachan is a classic Scottish dessert traditionally eaten in the late summer and autumn months in celebration of the year’s harvest. Its flavours of oatmeal, heather honey, and whiskey combined with soft fruits and cream makes this a thoroughly Scottish dessert.
In her book Classic Scots Cookery, Catherine Brown describes the consumption of this dessert among the clanspeople of the Scottish highlands some three hundred years ago. The fruit for this dessert would be gathered from the countryside in the late summer by the children of the family searching the hedgerows for the fruit of wild brambles, blueberries, and raspberries. These fruits would be placed in the centre of the table in a large bowl. Alongside this would be placed a bowl of ground oatmeal and from the family’s milking cow a bowl of thick cream and a bowl of crowdie, a traditional soft cheese of the highlands. Added to the table would be a bowl of wild honey and a bottle of whiskey, their own usquabae or “water-of-life as it was then known. Those present at this feast would gather around the table and make up their own mix of these ingredients.
Catherine Brown advises that Cranachan is best as a communal dessert mixed at the table to individual tastes rather than prepared in advance with everyone adding their own favourite mix of ingredients.
In my Cranachan I used extra think Jersey cream instead of whipped cream that is often used in Cranachan recipes, defrosted frozen raspberries instead of fresh, a little Talisker scotch whiskey and medium oatmeal which was toasted in a dry frying pan. I used some dark forest honey as I could not find any heather honey. I did not have any traditional crowdie but will aim to find some of this in future. There are no set amounts in this dessert or any particular method for combining the ingredients.
Classic Scots Cookery by Catherine Brown. This is an excellent book of traditional Scottish recipes and cooking.