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Caledonian cream




Dictionaries of the Scots Language defines this as:


“A dessert of whipped cream with marmalade, sugar brandy and lemon juice”.


Mrs Dalagairns’ The Practice of Cookery gives us this recipe from 1829:


“Mince a table-spoonful of orange marmalade; add it, with a glass of brandy, some pounded loaf sugar, and the juice of a lemon, to a quart of cream; whisk it for half an hour, and pour it into a shape with holes in it, or put it into a small hair sieve, with a bit of thin muslin laid into it”.


(The Oxford English Dictionary defines hair sieve as “a sieve with bottom made of hair finely woven, usually for straining liquid”.)


More than a century later, 1985, Catherine Brown’s Scottish Cookery lists slightly different ingredients:


“… cream cheese with bitter Seville marmalade gives a sharp flavour to the cream...”.



Evidently it is startlingly good. This comes from Shadow of the Serpent (David Ashton, 2007):


“...a touch of surprising delicacy as regards desserts … Edinburgh Fog, Caledonian Cream and the like”.



James Drummond's Onward and Upward (1983) records a variation:


“Caledonian cream 2 tablespoons red currant jelly, 2 tablespoons sifted sugar, whites of 2 eggs. Switch together for half-an-hour”.


Hopefully an electric beater was available.


Either way, we all know it should be marmalade and, of course, whisky can/should be used. In February 2023, the Jewish Chronicle reported the “stars of this super simple dish” as:


“marmalade along with the whisky, juice from the orange, and sugar.”


Obviously, not forgetting the cream.


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at