How to make the classic buttery

Aberdeen buttery rowies

The browser search which brought most visitors to this site last year was: “How many calories in a buttery?” Yes, it’s a mystery to me, as well.

For those of you who don’t know the culinary traditions of North-east Scotland, the buttery, also known as a rowie, is an individually sized flat bread made of flour, yeast, salt and a huge amount of whipped lard. It is eaten usually at breakfast. Some consumers, with little regard for their hearts, spread this already highly calorific treat with liberal smears of butter, often topped with jam or cheese.

Since the high lard content means that the basic untreated buttery is estimated to contain 650 calories, a buttered/jammed/cheesed buttery is probably drifting close to 1,000 calories. Two of those and your daily allowance is gone. If all this sounds like I despise the things, you couldn’t be more wrong: a good one is absolutely delicious. Not for me the view of one nationally renowned BBC radio presenter who was invited to sample one live on air and pronounced: “It’s like eating a mouthful of the North Sea.”

You can read more about the buttery/rowie in a previous post here.

Meanwhile, never let it be said that this website does not answer readers’ wishes. So many of you have also been arriving here after searching for “buttery recipe” that I returned to one of my two favourite bakeries in Aberdeen and asked their chief baker to give me his recipe again. Not only did he write me out the recipe, he let me try my hand at making them in the bakery one Sunday morning. I can say with no modesty at all that the result was delicious; probably because he was standing over me and correcting my every mistake.

After several repeat efforts in our kitchen at home to perfect my technique, here, I think, is the foolproof way to make a genuine buttery/rowie. It varies slightly from the previous recipe given on the site, but I think it’s an improvement. It’s also more detailed so that any likely mistakes are flagged up and ironed out before you make them.

Don’t plan on turning these out quickly. Making butteries/rowies properly takes ages. By the time you have gone through all the preparing and proving and dough resting and rolling and baking, it will have taken half a day.

 

Ingredients

350g strong white bread flour

Half a teaspoon of salt

Half a teaspoon of caster sugar

15g yeast

150-200ml of tepid water (depends on your brand of flour)

170g of lard or beef dripping

Ingredient notes

1. Ordinary flour will not work. It must be strong white bread flour otherwise all you’ll produce is flat circles of hot rubber dough.

2. Two 7g sachets of fast-acting dried yeast will do, but fresh live yeast is better. In my experience, any baker who still bakes on the premises will happily sell you a small amount of live yeast.

3. The perfect temperature for the water is body temperature. That is, if you stick your finger in the water it should feel neither cool nor warm. If the water is any colder, the yeast will activate too slowly or will not activate at all. If it is any warmer it will either activate too quickly or die in the heat.

4. If you really must, you can lower the lard content by substituting a proportion of butter (60g lard to 110g butter), but don’t be tempted to use only butter and forget the lard completely: all you’ll get is a salty yellow cake with a texture like polystyrene. A butter/lard mix is not any healthier, by the way, so you might as well stick with 100% lard. I am assured that no professional baker uses butter in his butteries. The pro’s fat content is 100% lard.

Method

1. Take the largest bowl you’ve got and sieve the flour and salt into it. Try to do it from a height to incorporate as much air as possible into the flour.

2. Take a smaller bowl and combine the sugar and yeast, then add 150ml of the tepid water and stir. Leave for 20 minutes.

3. Mix the sugar-yeast liquid into the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Then trickle in the remaining 50ml bit by bit until the mix has just combined. Some flours need none of this extra 50ml. Some need it all. This is where the project is likeliest to go wrong.

4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and put it in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size. This should take between 40 and 50 minutes.

5. Use this rising time to prepare your lard or, if you really must, your butter/lard mix.

6. Whip the lard (or butter-lard) until it is light and fluffy. About 10 minutes should do it. Finish when it has the texture of very thick cream. It’s easier to do this with a mixer or food-processor, but the results don’t seem to be so good. Wooden spoon, hefty arm and effort are best. Don’t be tempted to soften the lard in a saucepan or a microwave oven. The best way to lighten the job is to take the lard out of the fridge three or four hours before you intend to whip it so that it can soften at room temperature. Overnight would be even better.

7. Divide the whipped lard into three equal portions.

8. Once your dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a well-floured board. The dough should be very sticky.

9. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a long strip. The result should be 10cm (4in) wide and 2cm (0.75in) thick.

10. Take one of your three portions of whipped lard and use a palette knife to spread it evenly across the entire surface of the dough.

11. Pick up one end of the rolled-and-larded dough strip and fold it over so that only one-third of the entire dough strip’s lardy surface is left showing. Pick up the other end and fold it over to the new curvy end of the dough so that you are left with a square of dough and no lard showing.

12. Leave the dough for 15 minutes. This allows the gluten to rest and build.

13. Repeat steps 9-12 twice more using your remaining two portions of whipped lard.

14. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2cm (0.75in) then cut it into 5cm (2in) squares. You should get 12 individual squares.

15. Put them on a greased and floured baking tray roughly two inches apart because they will spread. The squares will become the classic buttery random-blob shape.

16. Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth and leave them in a warmish place to rest and prove for about 40 minutes.

17. Set the oven to 200C / 180C fan / 400F / Gas 6.

18. Slide the baking tray into the middle level of the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly golden. They can overcook very quickly, so keep an eye on them.

19. Put them on a wire rack to cool. They will smell delicious, but don’t be tempted to eat them hot. Leave them for 15 minutes until they are just warm.

20. They freeze beautifully.

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  1. Tom says:

    Recipe does not work. You need to increase the water to 320mls. Far too dry base mix. Obviously this recipe was not tried.

  2. Norman says:

    I’m sorry to disagree with you, Tom, but I assure you and other readers that the recipe works perfectly every time. It belongs to an artisan bakery in Aberdeen and the product is on sale to the public.
    Just to double-check for you, I ran the recipe past the bakery manager once more.
    He told me: “The basic rule is to take the gram weight of flour and add slightly less than half of that number in millilitres of tepid water. You can push it to about 60% if you really must, but if you use 320ml of water you might as well shove the whole lot in the bin and start again.”
    In other words, for 350g of flour, the recommended amount of water is 150ml, although you can push it to around 200ml if you must. Beyond that, according to the pro baker, the recipe collapses.

  3. Rob Urquhart says:

    Works fine for me. The great thing about it is that the butteries are not as greasy as some.

  4. Mabel Benn says:

    Tried your recipe for butteries but find them much crispier than the ones sent to me from Aberdeenshire what am I doing wrong? I miss having them for breakfast, wish a bakery would supply them to a super market in Somerset or sold them on line.

    • Norman says:

      Hello, Mabel. As you know, there are butteries and butteries. I’m told by professional bakers that if you want them less crispy you need to work the fat more thoroughly into the dough. A baker who wants a crispy buttery leaves some of the lard streaked through the dough so that it fries slightly in the baking. You could also try increasing the water content slightly (see my answer to a previous correspondent), although if you add too much water you risk the dough not rising and ending up with rubbery discs. As long as your dough doubles in size, you should be fine.

  5. Priscilla says:

    I made these twice. Did not work

    • Norman says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Priscilla. Anything involving yeast is not the easiest thing to tackle and get right straight away, but I promise you the recipe does work. It belongs to Aberdeen’s top artisan bakery and the product is on daily sale. I make them myself every so often when I’m in the mood. The only suggestion I can offer is that fresh yeast is better than dried.

  6. Eileen says:

    Every flour is different – and that would account for different water requirements. And let’s face it – every baker’s rowie is slightly different too.

  7. Norman says:

    You’re right, Eileen, every buttery is slightly different. That’s what keeps it interesting. This recipe is for a lighter buttery that doesn’t sit all day in your tum. Visit The Breadmaker in Rosemount, Aberdeen, to try them. They are my favourites, although I am partial to butteries made by Chalmers of Bucksburn, which I have also watched being made.

    Yes, every flour is different, but I’m not sure there is such a wide variety in wholesale flours that would cope with more than doubling the amount of water in the recipe and getting away with it as one previous visitor suggested. The pro baker certainly didn’t think so.

    • Gordon says:

      Find a supplier of good quality strong flour, learn how it works and what it needs to get the proper consistency and texture for your doughs, and stick to using it. For example, Allisons strong flour needs much more water than Tesco and Asda’s own brand bread flour. If you put the same amount of water in the latter that the former needs, you would have a sloppy mess.

  8. Don says:

    I wonder if the problems arise from using too much fast action yeast. The ingredient list doesn’t specify which type the 15gms relates to but being from a bakery I would assume the quantity is based on fresh yeast and therefore one sachet of fast action yeast would be sufficient. Most bread recipes use 7 gms of fast action yeast to 500 gms of flour. 15 gms of fast action yeast to 350 gms of flour therefore appears disproportionate.

    Also if using fast action yeast this is normally added in dry form to the dry ingredients and not pre-activated in the sugar / water solution

    • Norman says:

      That’s an interesting point, Don. The next time I have a spare morning, I’ll try it with half the amount of fast-action yeast, just to see. The results I achieved first under the supervision of the bakery manager in Aberdeen and later at home worked well with exactly the recipe given, though. It could be that butteries are such a specialised item, with a texture and density you find nowhere else, that the usual proportion rules don’t apply; I have no idea. I’ll report later on the results of my half-yeast experiment, and thanks for the suggestion.

      • Doctor Diesel says:

        My best result so far has been with Allinson’s flour, 10g dried yeast and 175ml water.
        Better than Chalmers or Simmers

  9. Jim Pettet says:

    Hi Norm,
    I’m attempting my first batch of butteries and awaiting the bake from the oven to try them. I used dry ingredients. As was suggested I only used 7gm of fast dried yeast and sieved my flour as suggested and put yeast at one side and salt at the other as I found out that salt would kill the yeast to my cost when making my first attempt at focaccia. With a well in the middle I then added the water and had been so busy to get it to the right temperature that I forgot to measure it out. I don’t know how much I added so it could have been anywhere between 130 and 210 . However dough doubled in size. My next mistake was the lard as I forgot to leave to rest for 15 minutes before each application . However The bake has gone reasonably smoothly and I will eliminate the above mistakes next time. Still looking forward to eating my first bake even if they won’t be perfect.

    • Norman says:

      Hello, Jim. Thanks for such a detailed tale of your experience. The variations teach as much as following the recipe. I was lucky in that I had a professional standing over me for the first couple of times as I was making his recipe in his bakery. He was able to stop me making mistakes before I made them. That meant that they turned out perfectly, but it also meant I didn’t learn by making errors. The first couple of batches after I came home and I was flying solo were nowhere nearly as good, but you learn and improve. I’d be pleased to hear how your next batch turns out.

      • Jim Pettet says:

        Hi Norm,
        Finally got round to a second batch although I halved quantities as I only wanted 6 rowies. Used a measuring cylinder to get the right amount of water. The mix was too dry but I only had to add between 5 and 10 mil. of water. Butteries turned out successfully and the difference in water could be because of the the flour as a previous contributor said. I have used beef dripping both times as I couldn’t see lard in our local supermarket but the butteries taste fine for me.

        Jim

        • Norman says:

          I’m glad they worked, Jim. I’m told by people who know more about these things than I do that halving every quantity in any baking recipe doesn’t necessarily produce the same results, so perhaps your water adjustment was necessary because of that. On the other hand, it might have been because of the flour, as you suggest. Whatever the case, you worked out a fix and I’m glad the results were good. I hope you’re going to try them with whisky marmalade. There’s nothing finer on a Sunday morning.

  10. Mhari Watt says:

    I have just finished making my first ever butteries and they are good will try them again using dripping as I found lard leaves a taste that don’t like. the recipe is fine I had no problems with it.

    • Norman says:

      I’m glad they worked for you, Mhairi. If you have a moment, please drop me a line once you’ve tried your version with dripping. It would be interesting to hear how they compare.

  11. jo says:

    Hi

    I was looking forward to trying this recipe and having home made butteries, but they rose rather than spread when they cooked. Also, the lard leaked out and fried the bases. Where did I go wrong??

    • Norman says:

      I am not a professional baker, Joanna, but that sounds to me like an imbalance in the amount of yeast and lard and perhaps an oven running a little hot. Leave it with me and I’ll quiz my buttery tutor.

  12. Norman says:

    Joanna, I have now spoken again to the bakery manager who taught me how to make butteries. This is the full text of his reply:
    “Butteries are temperamental things to do even for professionals, but they’re worse at home because you’re mixing much smaller quantities, so all the problems get magnified.
    “Assuming you are weighing the ingredients and setting the oven precisely, it could be one of three things, or a combination of them.
    “It sounds to me as if the dough is too warm when you put it in the oven; OR the type of lard you are using actually needs one-third butter to slow it down, OR you need a softer dough to compensate for whatever brand of flour you are using.
    “First, I would try cooling the tray of proved butteries in the fridge for 20 minutes before you put them in the oven. This will harden the lard and slow it down so it will be less likely to leak. It would also be helpful if your kitchen and hands weren’t too hot while you are working the dough.
    “Second, I would also try replacing one-third of your lard with butter, also to slow it down.
    “Third, a buttery that rises is usually a sign of a dough that could do with being softer. Try adding an extra 20ml of water to compensate for your brand of flour. Be careful not to add too much because then they really will spread … all over your oven floor.”

  13. celly says:

    I am trying this recipe today, I tried a different one 2 days ago and it was a disaster. This recipe is different and so far so good. Waiting to put them in the oven. I’m so excited!!! Haha

    • Norman says:

      I hope it works for you, Celly. They are not easy to do, which makes failure very dispiriting after all the work the baker has to put in. The reason they work for me, I think, was because I had a baking tutor standing over me while I made my first two batches in his class. He stopped all my mistakes as I made them. Fingers crossed for you.

  14. RAJ says:

    Butteries are one of the memories of my childhood holidays with granny in Ballater. I was sent down for 8 well-fired rowies in Ballater every morning on my auntie’s bike. As you went over the railway bridge you could smell them.

    I have used my mother’s recipe from the People’s Friend for years which uses lard / butter. I have been using Normandy butter from Morrison’s and the taste is incredible – have you tasted their Normandy butter? !

    The idea of lard appeals to my inherited sense of Scottish housekeeping thrift and will try it forthwith.

    Here’s a horror story – I stayed in a small hotel at Cults and they presented the usual English style breakfast menu. I asked for Cholestrol-cakes instead from the next day on. They obliged but they were soggy-microwave and things.

    I will try the lard recipe next time.

    P.S. My doctor has given me special pills so that I can eat as many as I like.

    • Norman says:

      I understand that the French churn their butter in a different way and I agree it tastes phenomenal. We are but humble folk, but I like to splash out now and again on a French butter called Président. I have no idea if it comes from Normandy, but it’s just sensationally good in everything, although Mrs Harper blames me for wasting it on toast. I shall have to look into your special pills. Does your doctor do any that permit consumption of obscene amounts of chocolate?

  15. Neil Munro says:

    Norman, I’ve been living in Russia for the last 13 years and the only salted butter I can get here (up to now because of the sanctions) has been president. I agree it tastes great. I’ve made Butteries a few times using the Hairy Bikers recipe. They’ve been good enough for when the frozen supplies have gone. I have to make my own lard first as you can’t get it here. I’ll give your recipe a try next time. Is the baker you’re referring to in Aberdeen French by any chance?

    • Norman says:

      It’s not French, Neil, although I know the one you mean. It’s the Breadmaker on Rosemount Viaduct (where Anderson’s Cycles used to be). They run Sunday-morning classes once a month, which was where I learned my technique, so theirs is the recipe I use all the time and it hasn’t failed me yet. I really needed a pro standing over me correcting every minor mistake, which is why it works so well now, I think. As you will know, it takes just one micro-blunderette early in the process for everything to go wildly off-piste by the end.
      The Hairy Bikers recipe will be pretty good because I think Dave Myers lived and worked at Huntly for many years, so he’ll know what a real buttery is.
      I have fond memories of Russia. I was once there on assignment in 1983 and ended up in hospital in Moscow for three days. I had gone to Tashkent on a side-assignment and had been warned not to drink water out of anything except bottles. Of course, they filled the bottles from the tap and I contracted something dreadful. By the time I got back to Moscow I was in no fit state to do anything. I was locked in an isolation ward. I knew it was serious when a flap opened at the bottom of the door to my room and an unseen hand propelled an orange across the floor.
      A far better experience was a week’s attachment to the daily paper in Murmansk in 1994. I hope we treat Russian visitors as hospitably and generously as they treated me. Wonderful people.

      • Neil Munro says:

        Aye Norman, they really are great people and do, in their own way, make me feel quite at home. I’ve a few hospital stories to tell as well (one of which was when I got my appendix removed from a small rural hospital and there was no heart/pulse monitor; just a nurse telling the doctor every now and again that I was still breathing). My Mum has been involved with the WRI for many years and one of the most popular talks she gives is of her many trips here and just what life is like. I once tried to make butteries in the middle of winter, the kitchen was roasting and when trying to add the layers of lard and butter it ended up like trying to wrestle a bag of greased snakes. Still cooked them, still ate them!

  16. Elspeth King says:

    Please please please tell me whether I can order butteries online,or if there is a supplier “down South”

    • Norman says:

      Elspeth, I am pretty sure that nobody supplies them Down South. I say this because there are multitudes of stories of North-east parents taking food parcels down to exiled children in all parts of England, usually containing a boatload of butteries.
      Your best bet would be to ring The Breadmaker (01224 641520); Chalmers of Bucksburn (01224 712631), Aitkens (01224 899124) or J.G. Ross (01467 620764). They are all exceptionally customer-friendly, and at least one of them will surely be able to do online shipments or will know of somebody in the buttery industry who will be able to help. I wouldn’t imagine mail-order butteries would be particularly cheap, though.
      If any readers have better ideas, please do let us know.

      • Walker smith says:

        Hi folks. I was told once that butteries were three-quarters butter and a quarter lard. That’s how I made them when I was at sea as rowies taste salty if I mind right. Peterhead cookies we called em.

  17. Mica Innes Hind says:

    Hiya, thanks for this recipe, btw!
    Took note of the fact that small amounts of extra water might be needed. I needed an extra 50ml water when using Allisons Very Strong White flour (for anyone else who uses this brand)

    However, the second issue I had was with the beefdripping – I think 170g might be a little too much. I followed the recipe exactly and I found even leaving them for 15min between each folding and rolling, there was still a bit much fat which got squeesed out the ends. In the end there was enough to use to grease the trays + extra! Maybe 150g was what actually got used in the rowies themselves?

    • Norman says:

      Hi Mica. I promise you the recipe is exactly as it was given to me by the pro baker. I made the butteries that way myself under his guidance and they turned out perfectly.
      As I say elsewhere here, the great thing about them is that they are not as heavy or greasy as other butteries, which is why I am surprised that grease was an issue for you (as you are, no doubt).
      I have checked with the baker again, not so much for the amount of lard, which I know is accurate for the recipe, but to see if there might be some other factor that is knocking your results.
      Alas, he can’t think of one. Your flour is ideal, he says. The temperature shouldn’t be an issue. Chilling the dough should sort any oozing-lard problems, he says. He wonders if you could try chilling for longer between each rolling, although he is not hopeful.
      I’m sorry not to have more positive news but, as he said at the end of our conversation, butteries are REALLY difficult to make without a pro’s experience. One tiny, imperceptible mistake near the start throws off the whole batch by the end.

      • Mica Innes Hind says:

        Thanks Norman!

        I don’t know what I did last time, but something must’ve been up with the yeast or the dough, maybe I didn’t leave it for long enough, maybe it was too cold in my kitchen for the yeast, or maybe I somehow mismeasured the beef dripping.

        Anyway, this time I still used a bit more than 150ml of water, but under 200ml as cautioned.

        Rather than use pure lard/dripping, I used 120g lard and 50g butter, it made it easier to whip up and gave a more pleasing smell and flavour in the end.
        This time there was only maybe 5g left over, which I duly greased the trays with.

        I also left the dough to rise and prove for much longer.

        The only other thing I did differently was sift maybe 50g of normal flour in with 300g of the very strong flour, and added 2tsp of salt – 1/2 a teaspoon couldn’t be tasted at all!

        The result – perfect. Not too crisp or too soft, suitably greasy but not leaking out, and a right level of saltiness! Actually, if I was to replicate the rowies of my childhood, I think I’d add another teaspoon of salt! (Maybe my childhood tastebuds were just more salt-sensitive back then, though, who knows?)

        Cheers again, especially to your baker friend – I now have a little taste of NE Scotland down here in NE England! ^_^

        • Norman says:

          Ta-daaa!

          Thanks for going into such detail about how you got the recipe to work for your kitchen and ingredients. I hope it helps others.

      • Rachael says:

        Hi,

        Just been reading through Mica’s comments. I’m from the North East and about to attempt making a batch of these.
        I’ve been working with different types of yeast-risen dough for about a year now, so still a novice; however, after reading through the recipe it seems to me that the process is v much like working with laminated doughs, i.e doughs laminated with butter, such as croissants. (Or lard as they tend to do in Spain, though I’ve no experience of this yet…)
        I know from my own variable results with such dough that pressure when rolling, temperature of dough and speed are critical.
        Because you are working layers of fat into the dough, you need to go easy with the pressure. You need enough to stretch the dough but not so much you squish the fat. With butter, if you push too hard on the dough when rolling, the butter starts “pushing through” the dough surface and you get greasy croissants when it comes to baking.
        This also means temperature is important too. If things get to warm, then dough may soften too much or much worse fat starts to melt and integrity is lost. I’ve been known to open my kitchen back door to make sure my kitchen is super cool before i start and even on warm days I’ve put chopping boards in the freezer to cool down, then placed them on the surface where I’m about to roll the dough so that it doesn’t heat up to quickly.
        So, thirdly, you need to work the dough lightly and quickly to stop points 1 and 2 happening!
        Like I say I’m a novice but thought these similarities might help. I’ll let you know once I’ve made a batch myself! :o)

  18. Michael Burton says:

    Hi Norman,
    I live in Finland and come from Aberdeen. I have attempted to make rowies several times, with various successes and failures. The last time I sealed the edges of the pastry before rolling out. It stopped the butter/fat from seeping out which made it much easier to work.
    However, here in Finland they do not sell lard per se as they are very health-minded. They sell something similar called KOKOS, which I assumed came from coconut, but I think I am wrong. However, they use it for deep-fat frying.
    I have noticed one has to be precise with the timing: even one minute over can burn rowies.
    I will try your recipe (with the fat I get here) and will let you know how it turns out.
    Watch this space.
    Mike Burton

    • Norman says:

      You’re a very lucky man living in Finland, Mike. I’m a great fan of all five Nordic countries, although Finland is the one I have never managed to get to.
      I will be interested to hear how your butteries turn out, coconut or not.
      You might know if you have family back here still that a new line of butteries has been developed by one bakery using vegetable oil instead of lard. I have no idea what other recipe adjustments have been necessary to make them work, but they are being marketed as vegetarian butteries and are said to be just as delicious as the traditional lard butteries, even to dedicated carnivores.
      They have one major advantage, according to one tradesman who was working in our house a couple weeks ago: no heartburn.

  19. Michael Burton says:

    Hi Norman,
    Just a few lines to let you know how I got on.
    To make the lard was relativly easy a bit messy as I had to boil 2 kg pig fat then strain twice, my wife was not too pleased but there you go.
    The rowis made with 300 grm of lard and no butter were tasty BUT they did not brown so I just close my eyes and enjoy.
    next time perhaps a little butter mixed
    Thanks again for your recipe
    Mike

    • Norman says:

      You have a very understanding wife. I would never have got off with boiling pig fat. I’m glad it all turned out well. No heartburn?

  20. Ron Spence says:

    Well Norman, I’m giving them another go – special request from Avril. I still think the dough is too dry but I am persevering. I’ll let you know. Just finished the first fat spread and the dough is in the fridge.

  21. Ron Spence says:

    Norman,
    Sorry to report that it didn’t work. The dough was very firm and difficult to word so the spreading of the lard was very messy. The rowies turned out flaky but too hard. The middle was rather doughy. I’ll try again but I think I’ll aim for a softer dough. After all, your recipe does say that the dough ‘should be very sticky’ and it definitely was not that.
    I also made some crusty rolls and these turned out well so that was a plus.

    • Norman says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. Just as a matter of interest, and in case it helps anyone else here, what brand of flour were you using?

  22. Ron Spence says:

    I’ll keep trying Norman.
    This time I used Aldi’s Strong White. Last time it was Allinson’s Extra Strong. I only buy Allinson’s when it is on offer. It’s usually £1.50 or more a bag.

    • Norman says:

      If you want to try the butteries made from this recipe, Ron, nip into The Breadmaker in Rosemount Viaduct (where Anderson’s Cycles used to be). The recipe is their master baker’s and I know it works because I made it myself one Sunday morning under his tutelage and have made it several times since. You’ll find them drier than most other butteries, but also less greasy.

    • Norman says:

      UPDATE: My wife tells me that she avoids Aldi strong flour because it seems to be not any stronger than other brands’ ordinary plain flour, despite what it says on the packet. The only time she has had disasters from our bread machine have been with Aldi flours. The loaves come out half-risen, heavy, and wet in the middle; a sign, she says, of insufficient gluten. She now sticks with Allinson’s or Carr’s, although Tesco own brand is just about OK if nothing else is available.

  23. Ron Spence says:

    Thanks Norman.
    I’ll keep trying.
    I know exactly where they are (I was a customer of Anderson’s in my youth). Because of Avril’s disability we are not in Aberdeen often so it won’t be soon.

  24. Ron Spence says:

    Thanks again.
    I tend to use Allinson’s mostly and I’ve never used Carr’s. I’ve used both Aldi’s and Lidl’s for various breads and rolls and haven’t noticed any difference. I have been using Hollywood’s recipes lately and they turn out really well. Avril loves the ciabatta and it has never failed. I use a mixer because the ciabatta dough needs lots of kneading and I’m lazy.

  25. Lesley says:

    Hi can anyone tell me how long butteries last for in the fridge?

    • Norman says:

      Lesley, I can tell you exactly, based on experience. They will keep for three months in a freezer, and are still edible (just about) after a year. Some people say they improve after a spell in the freezer, although I have never noticed any difference. The fridge doesn’t extend their shelf life by much more than a day, though. A three-day-old fridge buttery is as leathery as a two-day-old fresh one. If you find one lurking, forgotten, at the back of the fridge after a week, it will be an attractive shade of moss green.

      • Lesley says:

        Thanks for that Norman. My sister lives in Aberdeen and brought some with her to Bolton where I live. They had been in my mums fridge for a few days then I brought them home and put them in my fridge a few days ago so I guess they’re inedible now but not gone green yet. Next time I will freeze them straight away or even better make my own 🙂

  26. Ron Spence says:

    I agree Norman, rowies freeze very well – but they never keep for more than a week in this house. I’m away to make some more tomorrow.

  27. Ron Spence says:

    That’s it, the rowies were baked today and they were delicious; great praise from my wife, Avril. But I cheated – I used a different recipe and here it is:-

    Aberdeen Butteries (with thanks to The Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook)
    Ingredients (makes 20 to 24).
    2 tsp dried yeast
    450 ml milk and cold water mixed
    750 gm strong flour
    3 tsp. salt
    50 ml sunflower oil
    For Spreading
    250 gm butter (or 50/50 butter/lard)
    This recipe is based on one from the Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book but I have doubled the quantities. I have omitted the sugar and also substituted the butter in the first part of the ingredients list with oil. I use a food-mixer with a dough-hook to make the dough. If you wish, use sugar to make a yeast starter with some of the water.
    The original quantities give a soft dough so I have increased the amount of flour by 200 gm. The lard and butter mixture should be soft. It doesn’t spread very well so give the mixture a short blast in the microwave first. The more you can fold over the dough the better. Three is the minimum.
    1. Add the dried yeast and salt to the flour and sieve into the mixer’s bowl.
    2. Add the milk, water and oil .
    3. Using the dough hook mix for about 15 minutes until a dough is formed. It should leave the sides of the bowl. Note, you might need to adjust the ratio of flour/water.
    4. Transfer to a large oiled bowl and leave to prove until double the original size (about 40 minutes in a warm place). You can do this in the fridge overnight.
    5. Knock back the dough and then chill it in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
    6. Meantime work together the softened lard and butter.
    7. Roll out the dough into a one centimetre thick strip about three times as long as wide. This is easier to do using the hands only.
    8. Spread two thirds of the dough with a portion of the lard mixture.
    9. Fold over the plain third onto the buttered side and then fold over the remaining buttered side on top and seal the edges.
    10. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. I use a rectangular plastic box.
    11. Turn over and roll again and repeat the above two steps at least twice. These steps can be a bit messy but keeping the dough cool helps a lot.
    12. Refrigerate for a further 15 minutes.
    13. Roll out again to one centimetre thick and divide into roll sized pieces. Form these into a rowie shape by folding in the edges and stretching the dough to the approximate shape. This also seals the edges.
    14. Cover and leave to prove until double the original size (about 30 minutes).
    15. Pre-heat oven to 230 C.
    16. Brush with some melted butter. Optional. I have never done this.
    17. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Do not under-cook.
    18. Eat and enjoy whilst hot. Can be frozen but warm under the grill to crisp up. Don’t burn your tongue.
    Sorry about the cheat.

  28. Amy Abel says:

    I made these all the way out in New Zealand this weekend and they turned out pretty much perfect to the taste! I used live yeast, pork lard and what they call high grade flour out here (strong white doesn’t seem to exist so I’m sure its the same thing). Started out with 150ml of water but had to use a bit over 200ml in the end. They didn’t spread much in the oven so they came out with edges pretty much as straight as when I cut them. I read somewhere to fold the corners in to the middle and round the off with your hands once cut so think I’ll think I’ll do that next time. So lovely to have a taste of home all the way out here although I don’t think my kiwi friends felt the taste quite lived up to how much I was ranting and raving about them! I guess they wouldn’t understand not having had a childhood growing up with the taste.

    • Norman says:

      Many thanks for letting me know how you got on, Amy. I’m tickled to hear that the delicious aroma of butteries has been wafting over NZ. As for your Kiwi friends being not totally impressed, I think you have to be a daughter or son of the North-east to appreciate the culinary class of a buttery properly.

  29. Ron Spence says:

    Great that they worked. If the NZ ‘high grade flour’ did the job then that is all that matters. I would agree with the amount of water – I always have to use more than the recipe says.

  30. Michael Burton says:

    Dear Norman,
    One other thing I missed from Scotland was Scotch pies it is very difficult to make not the dough but the form, so now I buy from Kirkaldy freeze dried shells with a pepper mix , all I have to do is make the tops and mix mutton mince with the peppers they provide and Bobs your uncle they are so good a dozen pies do not last long as my sons and a Scottish friend hover like vultures .
    I also can buy haggis mix and they arrive like very large condoms again I have to mix the sheep meat and pepper mix and boil everything ,the instructions are very easy to follow
    Last November I was in the UK and bought a dozen Scotch pies in Morrisons in Coventry and while they looked good they tasted like cardboard,not as though I eat cardboard but there was no taste what so ever,so if any ex pats have a craving for Scotch pies thats where to go
    nice to hear other points of view
    Michael Burton

    • Norman says:

      Hello again, Michael. Not that I want to put anyone off Scotch Pies, but I haven’t eaten one in 30 years after a colleague at The Press and Journal told me he had once bought a pie while he was at art school in Dundee. He had bitten into it and found himself chewing what turned out to be a strip of eyelid with three eyelashes.
      He said he went right back and swapped it for another one, because if he hadn’t he would never have eaten a bought pie again.
      My other tip, based on my summer-holiday job at a hotel as a teenager, is don’t have the trifle on a Wednesday or Thursday. You don’t want to know.

  31. Mary says:

    Hi Norman.

    Just made my first batch of butteries after my son and partner fell in love with them on our holiday in Aberdeenshire last week. The recipe is fantastic, though I think I skimped on the salt a bit, so will add more next time.

    The only other issue I had is that they didn’t spread. I’d imagine that this is a dough issue, but, having followed the recipe to the letter, I’m not sure where I went wrong! Any ideas?

    • Norman says:

      I’m delighted that they worked for you (more or less), Mary. I’m not a pro baker but, based on previous queries and many discussions in the last three years with the master baker who taught me, you might want to try adding 20 or 30ml extra water to loosen up the dough. Buttery-making is notoriously difficult, as many will attest. The man who taught me said that the slightest error early in the process gets magnified as you go along until the result is nothing like you wanted, and sometimes inedible, and you can’t think why. Good luck.

  32. Ian says:

    The butter/lard content has perhaps varied over the years. According to wikipedia there are “Articles in the Aberdeen Journal from early in the 19th century bemoaning the increased use of lard in place of butter”.

  33. Wendy says:

    Hi

    I am a dedicated Down Souther! living by the sea in Sussex, but I love the detective books of Stuart Macbride set in Aberdeen. His policeman on duty seem to eat a lot of ‘rowies'(they sounded delicious or revolting depending which way you look at it,) but I had no idea what they where. I even asked someone from Berwick on Tweed (well that’s nearer Scotland than I am) but they didn’t know either, so Google came to the rescue. Perhaps if I had asked about butteries I may have had more success. Now I have the recipe and I am going to make some.

    • Norman says:

      Good luck, Wendy. They’re not to everyone’s tastes (Terry Wogan famously hated them), and they are very difficult to make, so expect your first batch to be disasters. Persevere, though, and let us know how you get on.
      Alternatively, come to Aberdeen and go to any local bakery and buy half a dozen to take back to your hotel.
      Most of us are devoted to the versions produced by our favourite bakeries, but visit the Breadmaker on Rosemount Viaduct (this recipe) for a version which is drier and less greasy than any others, or any Chalmers retail bakery for a good doughy version that will keep you full for half a day.

  34. Paul says:

    Thank you for the recipe, Sir. I couldn’t find any scales, so my proportions were a little off… My end product was something between a buttery and a crusty roll. Damn good though. Put it this way, I won’t be buying them from the co-op anytime soon. I’ve been trying to get a batch to my gran’s house for her critique/approval, but they are quickly intercepted before they go anywhere (my family are like seagulls).

  35. Tom Campbell says:

    Simple question, what is Strong Flour? I’m in the Northeast US and I give advice to an Ayrshireman who’s opened a pub in Camden Maine. I’ve attempted to make Butteries over here but they come out flat and doughy. Temperatures are correct, water content as my mother in law told me, but yet…… So far failure!

    • Norman says:

      It’s breadmaking flour (flour with a high gluten content), Tom. I’m not sure how you describe that in the US, although I have a vague memory that someone once told me it was known to Americans as hard flour. It is definitely not all-purpose flour, which is suitable only for cakes and biscuits and has insufficient gluten to make breads.
      I was also told that Canadian flour was better for breadmaking than US flour because it had a naturally higher gluten content. Allegedly, it had something to do with climate and average temperatures.
      I was in Maine four weeks ago. There’s a wonderful museum of Maine life beside the state capitol building in Augusta. My other abiding memory will be of two days of rain the likes of which I have rarely seen before.

  36. Ewan Cameron says:

    Tried these , the flavour was great but they were just a little too “chewy”…what am I doing wrong?
    otherwise great thanks

    • Norman says:

      I don’t know that you’re doing anything wrong, Ewan. There are so many variables in these things that it could be the brand of flour, your oven, your lard, your yeast. If you prefer them crispier, you could always follow my bakery teacher’s instructions and leave tiny bits of the lard through your dough, rather than mixing it all in smoothly.

  37. Iona says:

    Wonderin how much carbohydrate are in buttery I am type 1 diabetic on carb counting

    • Norman says:

      I can’t give you an exact figure, Iona, but since the major ingredient is flour and the proportions of other ingredients are similar to those of a croissant, you could say that in a 100g buttery roughly 50g is carb.

  38. George Morrison says:

    I have an old Aberdeen receipe which gives Flour 16lb yeast 10oz and water 10ld with about 4 3/4 oz of fondant or sugar. This is of course a commercial receipe. I divided it by 10 for home baking, and it works quite well. It’s a 45 min. sponge.

  39. Silvia says:

    Hello:)
    I tried your recipe and my butteries came out tasty, but very crispy. I’m thinking next batch I’ll try a touch more water, and also mixing the lard with the dough a lot more, instead of just spreading it.
    As with a comment above, I’ll also add more salt. But, thank you for this recipe, it encouraged me to try 🙂

  40. Morag says:

    Just tried making rowies for the first time ever and found it not as onerous as I expected. I agree with Silvia’s comments and would add a fraction more water and salt but the basic recipe is definitely worth persevering with. Next time I may also add a knob of butter on each buttery as suggested in a recipe by the Duchess of Hamilton in publication, Hieland Foodie, by Clarissa Dickson Wright.

  41. john says:

    I had never baked in my life but thought I would have a go @ rowies. Turned out great,but used 16 oz plain flower. 450 ml water. 10 oz butter 3 oz lard. 2@7g fast act yeast. That was 4 months ago. Second shot is about to go in the oven. Fingers crossed. Oh| incidentally that makes 16 of them

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