The Buttery is a traditional breakfast roll originating from the ports of Aberdeen, where it was made and taken by fishermen as a source of energy that would also not stale during the long weeks at sea. Likened to a flat savoury croissant, these rich treats fall partway between a roll and a pastry, being crisp and flaky on the outside and simultaneously dense and layered within. The use of lard imparts a distinctive flavour and, being Scottish, they are also rather heavy on the salt.
Much like Mr Lepard's flaky butter buns they certainly piqued my interest as I'm quite partial to the savoury breakfast pastry option. But what had me particularly struck was the manner of lamination. As with all the classics a simple series of roll-and-fold steps were employed, but rather than lock-in all the fat at the start instead a little smear was introduced at each stage. To step things up I'd toyed with the idea of sprinkling in sugar at each fold for a bit of salty sweet action, but decided to save that for a latter occasion.
The Buttery, as it turns out, makes a delicious accompaniment to your morning brew. The softness of the lard reduces the lift in the crumb, as the layers do tend to smoosh together somewhat, but that's precisely what gives these buns their unique character and makes them so lovely. The dense-yet-meltingly-soft interior contrast beautifully with the crunch of the crisp exterior, and the slight porkiness from the lard really sets them apart from your more typical breakfast pastries.
At their best still-warm on the day they're made, they go crackingly with a sharp, bitter marmalade and I'd wager (if your arteries can take it) a strip or two of crispy bacon certainly wouldn't go astray. That being said, if you don't manage to knock them all off in one sitting their high fat content means they do indeed keep well, so a short minute or two in the toaster to warm through will also crispen them up nicely. Perhaps not the healthiest when it comes to the daily breakfast conundrum, but a pleasing indulgence when time is on your side. Go on, why not go and get a little Buttery?...
ABERDEEN BUTTERIES (Adapted from this recipe by Euan Greig)
- 500 g bakers flour
- 5 g instant dried yeast
- 15 g light brown sugar
- 10 g sea salt
- 350 ml water, warmed slightly
- 250 g salted butter*
- 125 g lard
Mix together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and knead, using a dough hook, until smooth. Transfer to a lightly-oiled mixing bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place until doubled by half again.
Meanwhile, mix the butter and lard together, until combined and just soft enough to spread.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and press/roll into a 20-cm × 40-cm rectangle. Working from a short edge, dot one-quarter of the fat mix onto the dough and spread out roughly over two-thirds of it. Fold the dough in thirds (like you would a letter) by first folding the uncovered section in towards the centre, and then the remaining third on top of that. Repeat the rolling and folding process three more times, chilling for 20 minutes in between if necessary, until all the fat mix has been used.
Roll you now laminated dough into a 30-cm × 50-cm rectangle and cut into fifteen, 10-cm × 10-cm squares. To shape into buns, bring each corner into the centre (as if making kouign amann), then flip over and shape roughly into a ball by tucking the corners under. Press out into 1-cm-thick rounds and place on a well-floured tray. Cover and leave prove in a warm place for 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Bake the butteries for 15 minutes, turning the trays after 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to racks. Serve warm or toasted, with marmalade or jam.
** If you only have unsalted butter use it, and add an extra 5 g sea salt when you mix together the butter and lard.