Scottish Food: Aberdeen Butteries

This is part of a series on Scottish food. See more recipes here!

With Burns Night just behind us, this seems like an opportune moment to try another traditional Scottish recipe, and today I’ve turned my hand to rolls called Aberdeen Butteries (or Rowies) which originate from the North-East of Scotland. If you don’t know Aberdeen, it’s a coastal city where the buildings as made from glistening local stone giving it the nickname The Granite City, and it enjoys some of the most “bracing” winds and some of the chilliest beaches in the country!


When I was young, there were two sorts of rolls in bakeries. Either the big, round, soft morning rolls, or these – flatter, heaving and a lot richer. Their texture was rather flaky, as the butter was folded in rather than being kneaded into the dough. And when I say “butter” what I actually mean is “lots and lots of butter”.

It is this slightly flaky character which has led people to refer to them as “rustic” or Scottish croissants. Now, I can see why you might make think to make that connection (it’s a yeasted dough to which layers of butter are added) but I don’t think the good burghers of Aberdeen would regard these as having too much in common with those fancy French thingies. Aberdeen Butteries are certainly a bit more robust, and I find them also much more savoury (certainly far saltier), without the sweetness of croissants. That, and they don’t have the delicate shape of croissants! In fact, the method for making them means that they tend not to be very photogenic. Unlike croissants or puff pastry, you don’t need to chill the dough between folding – just roll it out as large as you can, then spread with butter and fold – by the end of the process, there will be butter everywhere! I managed to make six large rolls, and perhaps two of them were presentable. All were delicious though!

Of course, by including all that butter and a good amount of salt, these are not an everyday treat, especially if you’re not spending your days tilling the land or manning a fish trawler. However, calls from a certain TV doctor to ban them sort of misses the point – they’re probably not amazing eaten every day, but as the occasional treat, why not? If you’re off for a day walking in the hills, then all that energy is going to serve you well.



If you want to make these, they are great enjoyed while still warm, with some jam (no more butter needed!). Being Scottish, I think you want to eat them with something traditional – raspberry jam or thick-cut marmalade would do the trick.

To make Aberdeen Butteries:

Makes 12 small or 6 large

• 340g strong white flour
• 1 teaspoon instant yeast
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 240ml water
• 240g salted butter, softened

1. Make the dough. If using a machine, put the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water into the bread machine, and run the dough cycle. If making by hand, combine the same ingredients in a bowl and knead until elastic. Leave somewhere warm, covered, until doubled in size.

2. In the meantime, cream the butter until smooth, and divide into four.

3. Roll the dough out to a large rectangle (go as large as you can). Take one-quarter of the butter, and spread over two-thirds of the dough. Fold the un-buttered part of the dough back on itself, then flip again. Repeat the process another three times until all the butter has been incorporated.

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut the dough into twelve pieces, shape into rolls and lay on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Cover the rolls lightly in cling film, and leave somewhere warm until doubled in size.

5. Bake for around 15 minutes until golden.

Worth making? These have been on my to-do list for a while, and I’m happy to say they are super-easy and delicious. Just a note of caution – watch out for all that melted butter when they’re in the oven!


Filed under Recipe, Savoury, Scottish Food

20 responses to “Scottish Food: Aberdeen Butteries

  1. OMegosh…these look wonderful!

    I had some raspberry jam from Scotland the other day and was especially enamored by my taste buds.

    Thank u for sharing this! 🙂

  2. Cat in my Bag

    Lovely recipe and it’s great to read about the history of these treats. Thanks for sharing! xo

  3. peasepudding

    My goodness that brought back memories of hols in Aberdeen. I made croissants this weekend, wish I had seen this first, I’m just going have to make these next week and sod the butter :0)

  4. WANT! These are definitely going on my to-make list. I think they’d be a lovely breakfast for this weekend.

  5. I love the aroma of freshly baked bread…. and love eating fresh bread even more. While viewing your pics, I was actually able to imagine how this bread would feel like to bake and to eat. Absolutely wonderful…. I am going to try it very soon. 🙂

    • You’ll like these – they are best eaten very fresh (ideally still warm) – as the butter melts and soaks into the dough. Healthy? No. Delicious? Of course! Just be prepared for a very mess, buttery kitchen and watch out for butter melting out of the dough during baking!!!

  6. val hooper

    When I was small,a long time ago, we lived in Chronicle Lane very near a bakery. Every morning we woke up to the smell of rowies to which they were called then, we were sent over the road to buy some for breakfast and we loved them. I have never forgotten their taste and every time someone I know goes up to Scotland they get my order to get me some .

    • Hi Val – what nice memories! I was chatting about them yesterday, they seem to be a key part of any Scottish childhood!

      • AS

        The correct term is ‘Aberdeen Morning rolls’…rowies and buttries is a slang term. Both sets of my grandparents were brought up in town (toonsers) and the country (teuchters), but both sets referred to ‘Aberdeen Morning Rolls’, and never rowies or butteries. One grandparent was a baker/confectioner, so he should know. They are sold in local supermarkets packed either as butteries or rowies. The best rolls are Aitken’s rolls, from Aitkens bakery in the city. Ask any true Aberdonian.

        • Hi – always good to get a bit of insight!

          Where I grew up, they were called butteries, but that wasn’t very near Aberdeen, so clearly we didn’t know the right way to refer to them.

        • I lived in Scotland for 12 years; I went to high school in Banchory, lived in Peterculter, and went to uni at Robert Gordons University (I lived in the Aberdeen city centre while attending uni); every single person I know or ever spoke to referred to them as Butteries. Never once did I hear “Aberdeen Morning Rolls”. Just sayin. 😛

  7. AS… well I’m a so called true Aberdonian and my favorite are fae Chalmers. And for the record I have always called them rowies, just like most true Aberdonians… you joker!

  8. Beverley Murray

    This is the nearest recipe on the internet to an authentic rowie, the ingredients are correct for a good dough. I would suggest an alternative method for incorporating the butter as a flaky texture is not correct. After watching a YouTube video of an Aberdeen bakery making rowies I saw that the butter was chopped/mixed into the dough. I replicated this action using a food processor with a blade and the resultant rowie was near indistinguishable from the real thing.

    • Hi Beverley -thanks for the tip! I my version, I think the flavour was there, but the texture did not quite make it. Good idea to use a high-tech solution, a little bit like a rough puff pastry perhaps?

      Will give it a try soon.

  9. tom

    would you please convert the ml, and the g on the butter, flour, and water? thank you!

  10. Aran Woodfin

    I married a Californian who owned a cookie bakery. My Dad was a fierce Aberdeen buttery aficionado and my husband was intrigued by this. The first thing that he did when he arrived for the wedding was go off on a weekend to Aberdeen with my Dad, to investigate. My Dad had organised visits to 3 of his favourite sources of butteries on his pilgrimage visits to his schoolboy home for Dons’ matches and stocking up our freezer with breakfast indulgence. The bakers gave my husband hands on crash course in baking butteries. (I seem to remember the butter being incorporated by mixing flour & butter into a paste and spreading it in.) My Dad & almost husband had a grand time. When we got to, now, our cookie bakery we had a really good go at recreating butteries and got them just about perfect but marketing them proved hard work. We gained a tiny loyal custom but the saltiness and fattiness defeated too many and we couldn’t quite break the barriers and get enough business to keep them going. Too busy with the sweet stuff and too well known as a cookie place (It was The Cookie Café after all. Sadly its original name was nixed (expensively for my husband) after someone had it registered wider than my husband’s registry search went and claimed ownership to The Elegant Crumb, which was such a lovely name) We did a bit better with baguettes but bread in California was still a new undeveloped market still in the artisanal infancy, even in the Bay Area.
    I lived 18 1/2 years in California and bread slowly got to the the really great for about a day kind (oh Boulanger’s crusty Cabernet & Walnut yum) a grand and delicious San Francisco sourdough or just too sweet to bear. I had almost stopped eating toast. Still forget that I like it even now, thankfully not often. Croissants did appear, We bought a laminating machine to tackle croissants but again didn’t master it well enough to take the jump on the market, (marketing not our strongest skill) There were good commercial bakeries beginning to show up by the time we left but they were small and/or hidden in back streets and industrial units. I am still proud we brought a Scottish delicacy to the notice of some customers and peaked their interest. I enjoyed all the taste testing.

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