According to Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary of 1901 Flummery is an ‘acid jelly made from the husks of oats’ and water but it has since come to mean ‘an empty compliment or anything insipid’. A recipe for traditional Flummery seems to bear this out, with its description of a rather flaccid, glutinous dish, resembling porridge but with the oats carefully removed.
Flora MacDonald is said to have been halfway through a dish of Flummery when she was arrested, having just delivered Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Isle of Skye in 1747. Given the nature of Olde Scottish Flummery she may have been quite relieved by the interruption of her meal.
Here is a recipe for traditional flummery from ‘The Cook and Housekeeper’s Dictionary’ by Mary Eaton (1822);
“Steep in cold water, for a day and a night, three large handfuls of very fine white oatmeal. Pour it off clear, add as much more water, and let it stand the same time. Strain it through a fine hair sieve, and boil it till it is as thick as hasty pudding, stirring it well all the time. When first strained, put to it one large spoonful of white sugar, and two of orange flower water. Pour it into shallow dishes, and serve it up with wine, cider, and milk; or it will be very good with cream and sugar.”
Or the following is an adaptation of the old Scots recipe (or perhaps it’s ‘Cranachan’ in which case it can be served with raspberries). Either way, it uses less water, is enriched with cream and honey and is then elevated to ambrosial heights by the addition of a generous quantity of Scotch whisky liqueur.
For the final excitement – the oats are back!
Happy Burns night
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 level tablespoon oatmeal
- ½ pint cream
- 3 tablespoons clear honey
- 4 tablespoons liqueur whisky i.e. Drambuie or similar
- Juice of half a lemon
- Heat the dry oatmeal gently in a heavy based saucepan until it turns a golden brown then set aside.
- Beat the cream till smooth but not stiff.
- Soften the honey over gentle heat till it runs. Do not boil.
- Fold the warmed honey into the whipped cream.
- Stir in the liqueur whisky and the lemon juice.
- Serve the warm honey and cream mixture in tall glasses with browned oatmeal sprinkled on top.
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