Bottervingers | Butterfingers
From Afrikaans, it literally translates to butterfingers (I know, you could have guessed it)
For my first ever food post, I wanted to pick something that was really true and own to the house where we grew up. Bottervingers was the obvious choice. Other top contenders included our father’s ‘secret family recipe’ for rusks, or his famous burger patties. Our mother’s gift with food was whipping up something exceptional in no time at all. Bottervingers was one of these quick delightful dishes- A dish that she too enjoyed as a child.
We were very fortunate to have grown up in a house where both our parents were intrigued by gastronomy. Whether from a local deli, or an exotic international location, they always brought home something strange and new to try. (Lucky for me, my one brother is hysterically picky, so I always felt I benefited a little bit extra =))
Back to the fingers…
We know bottervingers as a stock standard side dish for braai or barbecue. No casual, outdoor cooking affair was complete without it. Once cooked, the outsides are golden brown, crispy and salty (thank you butter). The insides are soft and steamy and just a little bit sweet. It is impossible to count the burnt tongues that couldn’t wait for the freshly baked batch to cool down and despite doubling and tripling the recipe for big family get togethers, there were never any leftovers.
Fresh out of the oven, the browned butter bubbles around the dough before it is absorbed
Watching the butter bubble against the golden brown surface through the sides of the glass baking dish as it comes out of the oven, is absolutely enslaving. And the smell of the slightly browned butter is enough to bring tears to your eyes.
In terms of variations, we have been known to toss in a tablespoon or three of freshly chopped rosemary or some sweetcorn… and yes, we have cheesed it up a bit it too. For the most part, the stock standard variety remains the firm favourite.
Does the size of your baking dish really matter? Well, if you like your butterfingers with more crust, use a larger baking dish. This way there will be more surface exposed to the heat source. The ‘fingers’ will be flatter and wider, so to speak, with the top and bottom surfaces forming the buttery crust. If you prefer it softer with only crusted edges on top and bottom, use a smaller, but deeper baking dish. The fingers will be tall and narrow and the sides touching each other will be soft with an almost fresh-baked-bread-like texture. The top and bottom edges will be crust, and the bottom, butter-soaked.
As the name suggests, your cardiologist probably won’t endorse it- but it is easy, delicious, and the ingredients are few and basic.
Melt the butter then set aside; mix all the dry ingredients; add the milk a little bit at a time and mix into a dough
½ cup butter
2¼ cup all purpose flour
1½ tsp salt
3½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
Knead for one minute until the dough is smooth; roll out, and cut into 16 ‘fingers’
Preheat your oven to 500°F / 260°C
Melt butter in a 13 x 9 x 2″/ 33 x 23 x 5cm baking dish, and put it aside (We like to melt the butter in the baking dish, inside the warming oven while we prepare the dough. Once the butter is melted, you can take it out of the oven to cool down a bit, while you finish the dough)
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl
Stir in the milk, little by little to form a soft dough
On a surface sprinkled with flour, knead the dough lightly for about 1 minute, until smooth
Roll out the dough to 8 x 12″/ 20 x 30cm
Dip a knife in flour, and cut the dough into 16 strips- 8 strips down the 12″/ 30cm side, and cut the 8″/ 20cm section in half
One by one, place the butterfingers into the baking dish with melted butter. Make sure that you roll each ‘finger’ in the butter so that they are completely coated. They will fit snugly together once they are all bathing in butter.
Bake for 15 minutes in a very hot oven of 500°F/ 260°C until golden brown.
Serve warm- it can be reheated.
Roll each individual ‘finger’ in the warm butter and make sure it is covered; bake on a high heat for 15 minutes; let it cool for a bout 5 minutes; dig in
We hope you enjoy butter fingers as much as we do, and that it adds to your repertoire of mouthwatering, quick and easy side dishes*