Nairn butteries

Nairn butteries

Vanessa Levis

I was born in Nairn, Scotland, the home of these wonderful breakfast rolls. Elizabeth David, the famous English food writer, once said they are the best in the world, better than the French croissant.


Quantity Ingredient
15g compressed yeast
or 7g dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
450g baker’s flour or plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g butter


  1. In a small bowl, mix the compressed yeast, if using, and 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water, stirring to dissolve.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and beat in the compressed yeast mixture or the dry yeast, if using, and enough warm water to make a medium-soft dough. You may need a little more or less according to the flour.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, then form into a ball. Put the dough into a buttered bowl, turn the ball round to lightly coat it with butter, cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Meanwhile, divide the butter into two portions, each cut into little cubes. The butter should be cold but not too hard. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and pat out to a 42 cm x 20 cm rectangle. Dot two thirds of the dough with half the cubes of butter and, from the short end, fold over like an envelope, with the unbuttered dough folded over one third of the buttered dough then the remaining buttered dough folded over. Press down with a rolling pin.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 15–30 minutes. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, dot with the remaining butter and fold over in the same manner. Wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until you are ready to use the dough.
  6. Finally, roll out or press the dough into a rectangle about 1 cm thick. With a sharp knife, cut into 16 or 24 squares, depending on whether you want small or larger rolls.
  7. Transfer the pieces to the prepared baking tray and cover loosely with plastic wrap; leave for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Bake the rolls for 10–15 minutes or until light golden. Serve warm with cold butter.


  • The dough can be made the night before needed, cut into squares and put on a greased tray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, then remove from refrigerator and allow to rise before baking.
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