Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for... Rowies

 These are a specialty of Aberdeen, Scotland. They also seem to go by the name butteries.  Which... after you make this recipe once, you understand.  These rolls are high salt and high fat. A leftover from days when the fishermen sailing out of Aberdeen Harbour needed food to last the two weeks they were out (the high salt) and needed them to be a quick energy source (high fat).*  Of course as soon as I heard about these I was immediately curious and had to try them for myself.


As with any specialty dish, there seem to be quite a few variations and everyone with a strong opinion. Many seem to call for lard in place of all or some of the butter. And several called for bread flour. There were also quite a few mentions of using live yeast. This also turns out to be one of those foods you really wish you didn't have to realize how many calories are hiding in its crispy layers.  A perfect reason to pop down to the local bakery. Er. If Aberdeen and Scotland didn't lie thousands of miles and an ocean away from where  I live.

After a bit of a search I decided on this recipe from over at Serious Eats  Fast Breads Buttery Rowies. It uses all purpose flour, butter, and instant yeast.  If I make them again in the future trying out the lard, I will probably try this recipe Rowies (Aberdeen Butteries).

This was the second time I've made them, and it went much more smoothly this time. (Read "less messy".)  Partly because my kitchen was warmer (see notes on butter below), and partly because I rolled the dough out with a more gentle hand.

A beautiful soft dough.

I made this in the stand mixer, and it came together just beautifully.  I vaguely remember adding more water the first time, but this time it didn't need it.  I just let it keep mixing for awhile... and it turned out so soft.

While  I waited for it to rise I pulled the butter out, chopped it up in to slices, and left it to warm to room temperature.  Then I went and messed around with seeds and dirt for a few minutes.
Starting seeds for planting in the garden in a few weeks

All right, the dough is ready. Back to making rowies!

Roll out the dough  as per instructions, then slather with butter.  A lot of butter.   The softer it is the easier and less messy this will go.  Not liquid though. I wouldn't hurry this along using the microwave, just let it set out a lot longer than the 20 minutes mentioned unless you have a very warm kitchen and chop it into fairly small slabs.

Butter in waiting.  This is like half of it...

Carefully slathered butter and folded up per instructions. Here is "packet 1".

When you go to roll this out, roll VERY GENTLY. This combined with the very soft butter, makes for a nice dry dough after rolling.   If you see an area of dough starting to bubble out, either soften your roll or stop rolling completely there. You are about to get a messy butter burp if you don't.

This is what a messsy butter burp looks like. And then it gets everywhere....
If you look across the dough, you will see a trail where the butter got on the rolling
pin and then spread it back across the dough when I rolled back.

And in case you wanted to know what a quarter pound of butter slathered on dough looks like...

This was the slightly less soft stuff and it didn't spread quite as smoothly.
Made it more visible for the picture though!!

And "packet 2" ready to rest for 5 minutes:

All cut up and placed on  baking sheet

And so on and so forth...

The finished product.

If you, like me, are the kind of person who has a fascination with peeling the layers of something apart (such as say peeling apart hoho cakes.), you will love these! They come apart in crispy layers. The first time I made these, their texture reminded me a little of layers of fried wonton wrappers, but this time they had a little more of a flaky croissant texture. They are a bit on the salty side, and of course, heavy on the butter. I ate two with a bit of sour cherry jam, and then stuck the rest in the freezer before I could be tempted to go back for another...


  1. That is a lot of butter and even just half of it! The finished product looks delicious!! I would have to try one if ever in the area!


    1. I have a healthier respect for croissants now, too! I had no idea how much butter went into making moist, flaky layers.

  2. That looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous and totally sinful! Here from the A-Z and congrats on a great post for R day!

    Ninja Minion, A-Z 2016

    1. Thanks Nilanjana! I read somewhere that they freeze well too, so I am looking forward to popping one in the toaster oven for a nice treat on a busy day.