Traditional Buttery or Rowie

What is a Buttery?
A unique breakfast item associated with Aberdeen City & Shire. Butteries are very popular in and around Aberdeen City & Shire but virtually unheard of elsewhere.

The buttery has a distinctive crispy, flaky, flattened structure and a pronounced buttery, salty taste and its crisp shortness is balanced with a chewy elasticity.

A Brief History

Historically the buttery was taken onboard boats by fishermen sailing from many of the North East ports. Its high fat content, often meat dripping, provided a concentrated source of energy and this in addition to its salt content gave the product a long shelf life.

The first written mention of the Butterie, according to the Scottish National Dictionary, was 1899 when an Arbroath street-seller’s breadbasket is said to have contained “butteries”.

In 1917 the Press & Journal and Evening Express detailed the threat to the Buttery Rowie as a result of the introduction of war bread and pricing controls. It was banned for a period of time despite local bakers protestations that the Rowie wasn’t “bread” as defined by the regulations. Articles noted its manufacture was an important branch of the baking trade locally, particularly in working class districts where breakfasts consist of porridge and milk, followed by tea and a buttery rowie. Both employers and employees were likely to be badly hit by the prohibition and were encouraged to make representations to the Food Controller. This is a clear indication of the traditional butteries link to local food culture and heritage.

The buttery has been under attack from health propagandists due to the high salt and fat levels, although there was a short period of time when the local Health Board did recommend it, as a dietary supplement, to individuals in need of a source of concentrated calories.

Traditionally butteries were made with a fat/butter combination but this has changed over the years so that now nearly all commercially produced butteries are made with vegetable fats such as palm oil.

The Great Buttery Bake Off?

Slow Food Aberdeen City and Shire are looking to revive the traditional recipe and bring back the real buttery.

Click HERE for the Recipe