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Aberdeen Rolls (Buttries, Rowies)

The comparison between Aberdeen Rolls and French Croissants, at least in terms of texture if not appearance, has been made by several writers. It has been suggested that rolls and croissants have a common ancestry that dates back to the end of the seventeenth century in Budapest after the defeat of the Turks. It’s unclear as to when rolls were first made in Scotland but where ever they came from they have subsequently became an Aberdeen speciality. If you visit the Northeast of Scotland you will find Aberdeen Rolls on sale in every bakery, corner shop and supermarket and if you taste them you will be hooked forever. The names Aberdeen rolls, Butteries and Rowies are interchangeable so take your pick or even use them all, you’ll be understood what ever you call them.

Rolls are roundish, about 10cm across and slightly higher in the centre than at the edges. They are golden to dark brown in colour, can be either crispy or soft but must be slightly salty. They also have a very high fat content which is largely butter (hence the name buttery) with some lard. Recently a vegetarian version has been introduced with the butter and lard being replaced by vegetable fats.


These qualities will make about 16 rolls.

1 lb of plain flour.
6 oz butter.
4 oz lard.1 heaped teaspoon of salt.
2 heaped teaspoons of sugar.
oz fresh yeast.
pint of tepid water.


Unlike pastry, which has to be made using cold kitchen tools, yeast breads ought to be made under warm conditions to allow the yeast to raise the dough, hence make rolls under warm conditions.

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl and set aside for a moment.
Cream the fresh yeast, sugar and a little of the tepid water together and add to the bowl of flour. Mix the ingredients together with enough water to make a smooth firm dough.

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface and knead well for about five minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a warm slightly damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for about an hour to allow the yeast do its work of expanding the dough to about double its original size.

While the dough is rising cream together the butter and lard in readiness for the next step.

When the dough has risen knead it again and then roll it out on a floured surface and then spread it with a third of the butter\lard mixture and sprinkle lightly with flour. Fold the dough in three and roll it out again. Repeat the proceedure twice more. Roll out the dough quite thinnly and cut into squares. Bring the four corners of each square to the centre, shape them into rounds and flatten slightly with hand - do not over handle the dough. Place the uncooked rolls onto a floured and warm baking tray and leave them in a warm place to rise for about half an hour to 40 minutes. Bake the rolls in a hot oven (200C/ 400F) for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

The rolls can be eaten warm (absolutely fabulous) or set aside until they are cool and stored. Rolls can be made in a large batchn and subsequently frozen for later use. If defrosting the rolls in a microwave oven do not over heat otherwise the rolls will become limp and the fat content will become over-heated and sizzle. Aberdeen rolls can be eaten dry (without anything spread on them), spread with butter (just in case you really hanker after an early coronary, even if the rolls do then taste splendid) or spread with jam etc.

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