While it may originate in the north-east, expats from across the world and Aberdonians alike can’t get enough of this local delicacy.
It all started with a simple recipe we shared a few weeks ago informing people on how to make the much-loved favourite at home.
North-east chef Gary Grant who runs Facebook page Cabin Fever Cooking Show, shared his recipe on how to make the perfect butteries at home.
The recipe was a hit with our readers and as a result, we decided to investigate just how far the humble buttery – also known as a rowie – has travelled.
The first reader to make contact was Alistair Leggat who lives in Preston, England. Having not baked anything in 25 years, Alistair decided to try out Gary’s recipe and had great success with the “tasty reminder of Aberdeen”.
He said: “My family is originally from Aberdeen, but I’ve spent most of my life down here [in Preston] after moving from Glasgow when I was younger. I’m the third generation of Dons football supporters going back over 80 years, so Aberdeen will always be important to us.
“I read the The Press & Journal and Evening Express most days and I saw the article about the number of butteries being made just now. It’s something we don’t get down here and they’re never quite the same when you order them online. I was inspired – after 25 years of not baking – to try out the recipe which was really easy to follow. The hardest part was getting the ingredients.
He added: “They’ve all been successfully devoured. It has totally inspired me to make them again. I love them smothered in butter or with a fried egg. I read in the article that you could add cheese and my friend came up with a whole list of things you could add. But I love mine just as they are.
“For me, butteries are synonymous with any of my travels and summer holidays to Aberdeen. We usually treat ourselves at Christmas and order a couple of packets in but now that I know how to make them, I’ve set myself up for having to bake them this year.
“My parents both live close by and they loved getting a little treat. My father was a little apprehensive taking the first bite, but my mother was amazed I managed to make them.”
Leanne Anderson who lives in Texas stumbled upon the recipe and reposted it on Facebook so her brothers, who live in California, could also give it a go.
She said: “I was born and bred in Aberdeen, but moved to Perth, Australia in 2010, and from there to The Woodlands in Texas.
“I always ate butteries when growing up, they are just so good. I honestly would have them at every opportunity – be that with butter, peanut butter, jam and cheese, cream cheese, even haggis and cheese!
“They are so versatile and filling, my favourite ones were from Aitkens Bakery but really I am happy to eat any these days. I really wanted to make my own so when I saw the recipe, I thought it looked pretty easy and was excited that I could have them all the time again even though I’m far from home.
“When family and friends visit they would buy a batch of them, freeze them and take them in their suitcases for me and my husband to enjoy. My son also loves them now.
“I’m going to making them all the time now. Some of my Scottish neighbours I have here have tested out my butteries and they say they’re good! So I will definitely continue to bake them. I also make Scotch pies which I also miss a lot.”
Tracey Ross, who now lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband and two children, left Aberdeen 27 years ago. One of her highlights of visitors from the north-east arriving is getting her buttery fix and stocking up her freezer with the local delicacy.
She said: “My husband and I are both originally from Aberdeen and I grew up in Cruden Bay where my immediate family still live.
“I always enjoyed butteries growing up and honestly can’t remember a time when they weren’t a staple for breakfast in our house. I remember being really surprised when I found out that they were particular to the area and not the whole country though. I had just assumed that everybody enjoyed butteries for breakfast!
“We have been really lucky over the years that visitors have brought us packets of butteries and, of course, on our trips home we load up our suitcases with them (and Mealie Jimmies) which go straight into the freezer for treats and special occasions. Given the current global situation however, it looks like it may be quite a while before international travel is back on the cards so I don’t think my freezer stash will be getting topped up any time soon.”
With her stocks running low and travel restrictions likely to be in place for much longer, Tracey is tempted to give making butteries another shot, after her first attempt didn’t quite go to plan.
She added: “I will definitely be trying my hand at making butteries soon. I did give it a go many years ago and they weren’t too bad but not as fine as the ones from home. Who knows when we’ll have the chance to get some more from home though so I’ll have to attempt them again.
“Stocks are running low so strict rationing is now in place. We only have 16 left so that means five each for my husband, son and I, and we’ll probably have to draw straws for the extra one! Luckily, my daughter didn’t like them much when she tried them years ago and selfishly thinking of our limited supply, we don’t encourage her to try them again. You can’t waste a buttery on someone who won’t truly appreciate it!
“For me, butteries are so much more than being obviously delicious. They really remind me of home and take me right back with such a comforting feeling. So many lovely memories are associated with food from home and butteries will always be top of my list.”
Rachel Elder, a dental therapist from Aberdeen who has lived in Dubai for a year and a half, says she ensures she gets her buttery fix by stocking up when she is back in Aberdeen, and also asks her friends to bring them out to her when visiting, too.
She said: “I normally stock up when I’m home and have before taken a second suitcase full of goodies back!
“When friends and family visit I always make sure butteries are at the top of my list of items to take over with them when they ask what home comforts I need.
“I grew up with them being a weekend breakfast treat in my house but have fond memories of my grandad eating them all the time. I normally save them for a Friday morning treat here – and I love enjoying them on my balcony first thing in the morning.
“I’m really lucky that I actually flew back and forth to Aberdeen just before the lockdown kicked in so I managed to get a few packets when I was back. Although now I’m down to my last few – I’ll have to resort to making them myself! I’ve been baking a lot of things like cakes, bread and other goodies throughout lockdown so I’ll be adding butteries to the list.”
Closer to home, Violet Ross, who lives in Gulluk near Bodrum in Turkey with her husband Martin, put a few twists on the recipe, doubling the butter and lard and proved the dough until it was double the size.
She said: “I was born and raised in Aberdeen and retired to Gulluk near Bodrum in Turkey 13 years ago. We have always enjoyed an Aberdeen roll, Aitkens Bakery ones initially.
“When we were kids we loved them hot and crispy with butter and syrup on top. I started making them myself a few months ago, probably due to the fact there are none in my freezer as I normally go back to Aberdeen two to three times a year to see my son, family and friends and take a dozen or two Thain’s Bakery rolls home with me to pop in the freezer.
“There’s nothing nicer for breakfast than having one with butter and jam or a cheese triangle on top. I think it’ll be a monthly order for my baking from my husband now as he does miss his Aberdeen rowies. He bought me a dough-making machine as his arm was getting sore mixing the dough – it’s hard work being retired!”