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How to Make Cranachan

Updated on May 26, 2013
Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or under-used ingredients.


Cranachan and the Mystery of the Definitive Recipe

Cranachan is probably the most famous Scottish dessert recipe. It is usually made by combining fresh Scottish raspberries with cream, whisky, oatmeal and even honey. The unusual thing about Cranachan is in the number of incredibly varied and even contradictory recipes which can be found for its preparation. This is my own interpretation of Cranachan but I will include a, "Useful links," section at the very bottom of this page which will hopefully help to demonstrate the inconsistencies or differences of opinion which exist. Whether you prefer my recipe, or one of the others, I hope that you will at least have a go at making Cranachan of some type for yourself.

I will also take the opportunity further down this page to address some of the myths which surround the traditional food and drink of Scotland and very much hope that is something which you will find interesting.

Cranachan Ingredients
Cranachan Ingredients

The Ingredients Used in Making my Version of Cranachan

The ingredients which I am using in this method of preparing Cranachan are quoted in the quantities which will be required per serving.

Cranachan Ingredients

12 fresh Scottish raspberries

1 tbsp single malt whisky (see very important note below re whisky)

2 fl oz fresh double cream (heavy cream in the USA)

1 tsp liquid honey

1 tsp medium oatmeal

A Word About the Whisky Used in Cranachan

Very often, Cranachan will be prepared using Drambuie, which is a Scottish whisky liqueur. In this instance, the honey should be omitted from the recipe or at least significantly reduced in quantity as Drambuie already contains honey and other sweeteners.

Where using single malt as in this recipe, avoid using an overly peaty type such as Laphroaig or Ardbeg. A smoother flavoured whisky such as Glenmorangie, or as in this instance, Jura, will make for a much more enjoyable dish.

Raspberries Steeped in Single Malt Whisky
Raspberries Steeped in Single Malt Whisky
Toasting the Oatmeal
Toasting the Oatmeal
Honey and Cream Top the Raspberries
Honey and Cream Top the Raspberries

Preparing Cranachan

Although it is not absolutely essential, I like to steep the raspberries in the whisky for around an hour before assembling the cranachan. I simply add the raspberries to a glass bowl, pour over the whisky and stir very gently , so as not to damage the raspberries. I then cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate.

The only cooking required in this Cranachan recipe is the toasting of the oatmeal. A dry frying pan should be brought to a fairly high heat and the oatmeal added. It will take five minutes or so to toast and care is required to ensure that it doesn't burn. The pan should be gently shaken at regular intervals to ensure even toasting and should not be left unattended.

Assembling the Cranachan begins with adding the raspberries and the whisky to a small glass serving dish. The honey should then be spooned over the top. The cream should be whipped just to the stage where it starts to form soft peaks and added next, before the oatmeal is scattered on top as an effective garnish. If desired, a little more honey can be drizzled lightly and carefully over the oatmeal as a finishing touch.

Ideally, the Cranachan should be served immediately.

Cranachan Ready to Serve

Traditional Scottish Recipes

Although Cranachan does merit the title of being a traditional Scottish recipe, it is by no means a dish that you are likely to find gracing the average Scottish family's dinner table. Indeed, for the purposes of illustration, it is worth including here that I happened to mention in passing to three different people that I was preparing Cranachan in order to publish this page. All three are native Scots. Two had never heard of Cranachan and the other had heard of it but had no idea what it was: he guessed that it was a beef stew! Cranachan is essentially something which is offered on the menu at better quality Scottish restaurants, or served up to diners at special occasions such as Burns Suppers.

The example of Cranachan barely scratches the surface, however, of the misrepresentation which is widely afforded to traditional Scottish food and recipes. The Internet in particular includes countless reference to, "Traditional Scottish recipes," and,"Popular Scottish foods," which have any Scot who stumbles across them laughing out loud or baffled beyond belief.

The links immediately below are the latest postings on a blog which is devoted to examining and communicating details of the true traditional food and drink of Scotland. Some of the posts relate to food and some to drink. Included are recipes, products and features on basic ingredients. The one thing that they all have in common is that are truly and genuinely Scottish.

Have you ever tasted Cranachan? How do you rate your knowledge of real Scottish food and drink?

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    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, Susan. In a traditional sense, you are of course absolutely correct. There are no wild rasps to be found in Scotland in January. As is so often the case in the modern world, however, foodstuffs are available from other climes the whole year round, allowing traditional dishes (of sorts) to be prepared out of season. This means that there are occasions where cranachan will be served at Burns Suppers where it never would have been before. Purists of course will not relent and the dish will be reserved for late summer. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • profile image

      susan 4 years ago

      been told this is not a burns night pudding as they couldn't get raspberrys at this time of the year ?

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thanks, Japamwellows. Cranachan is indeed made in a great many different ways but can be truly delicious.

    • Japemwellows profile image

      Japemwellows 7 years ago from 5ifth Dimensi0n

      Cranachan, I've never heard of it before. I love raspberries though..this recipe sounds great! nice hub Gordon.