Mennonite Delights: Butterhorns

Butterhorns. These are definitely one of my all time favorite Mennonite desserts. But before we delve into this delicious treat, lets briefly explore the culture it comes from.

Mennonites received their name from their leader Menno Simons, a Dutch Priest. The group came to be after separating from the Catholic Church as an Anabaptist Christian group with strong beliefs in peace, justice and simplicity. Roaming around Europe trying to find a home, many people from Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine and other countries joined the group, thus creating a variety of influences in all aspects of their new culture; especially with food. If you’re interested in learning more about the Mennonites, you can visit:

Now back to butterhorns! This light and fluffy treat is most often served with afternoon coffee or as a dessert for faspa. What’s faspa you ask? Faspa is a traditional Mennonite meal taking place on late Sunday afternoons, usually around 4 o clock. For this meal, meats and cheeses are served cold along with homemade jam, bread, buns and vegetables. It derived from the Christian belief of not working on Sundays to keep the day holy, therefore not much meal preparation (or work) is required.

This was my first time making this tasty pastry, and, as it turns out, they’re not nearly as complicated as I originally anticipated. I pulled the following recipe for sweet foundation dough (used for butterhorns) from an old Mennonite cookbook with more stains on it than my apron during chocolate week at school! This is what I had to work with:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2 tbsp. instant dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 egs, beaten well
flour until good


Flour until good. Classic Mennonite recipe move, and oh how I hate it! As mentioned before, this was my first experience making butterhorns, so what is good? In this instance, I may have added slightly too much flour. Oh well!

The method for making butterhorns is as follows:

  • measure out all ingredients (minus the flour of course)
  • scald the milk, you’ll know its done by blowing on it, there should be a slight film
  • remove milk from heat and add butter, let cool
  • beat eggs, add sugar
  • once the milk mixture is lukewarm, combine all ingredients by hand in bowl
  • add enough flour for a smooth dough, knead well
  • place dough in lightly greased bowl, let bulk ferment until double in size (approx. 2 hours)
  • pin out dough to desired size and thickness, cut triangles and roll them up starting at the wide end
  • place on tray with parchment, cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours
  • bake at 350°F until light brown
  • let cool on rack
  • spread icing on top, can also add toppings such as coconut or sprinkles

Like most Mennonite food, butterhorns may not be all that special to look at but they sure are delightful!

Below are a few variations of butterhorns, including a gluten free recipe, as well as a Mennonite cooking/baking website.




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