Butterhorns with Vanilla Bean Icing – Here, There and Everywhere!

We had a party at work one night not long before I left for England and I made these old fashioned Butterhorns. For me, they bring back sweet memories memory of my dear Mom who recently passed away. With six hungry children, Mom never cooked anything in small quantity. I have vivid memories of coming home from school with wonderful fragrances greeting me before I even stepped into the house. As I walked in the kitchen, it was a sight to behold! The entire kitchen counter would be covered with homemade bread or rolls or these most delicious Butterhorns. I made a single batch and, as you can see from the photos, this recipe makes a ton, but Mom never did anything small – she more than likely made a double or triple batch of these; not that we would complain about that!!

The recipe is from a cookbook that was put together by the ladies of the Lutheran church in West Bend, Wisconsin, the small German/American community where I grew up. The first edition of Our Favorite Recipes came out in 1949 as a fundraiser for the new church they were planning to build.  You can read more about this interesting story and these ingenious, industrious women here. The recipes are fantastic; the proof of that is the sales of the cookbook continue strong after sixty-two years! All the recipes are still published in the original handwriting of the sweet homemaker/authors and the pictures on the cover and with each recipe are classic 1940’s caricatures. When I was growing up, this was a standard (and prized) gift to received for a wedding shower. No one was allowed to venture out into “real life” without a copy of Our Favorite Recipes!


This is a great recipe not only because the finished product is incredibly delicious, but you make the dough the night before, it requires no kneading, and it is ready to form into flaky, buttery, sweet delicacies when you wake the next morning. The Butterhorns freeze well so it’s a great do-ahead recipe if you’re planning a brunch or breakfast party. I adapted the recipe just a tiny bit however………. some things are simply timeless! Enjoy!


½ cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
1 cup milk, 105-115 degrees
2 sticks cold butter
4 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
powdered sugar icing (recipe below)

1. Stir yeast and sugar into warm milk until dissolved. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.


2. Mix flour and salt and cut in butter with a pastry cutter or by hand until pea-sized (like pie crust dough). Or place dry ingredients in food processor, add butter and pulse until pea-sized. Do not over-process.
3. Add beaten eggs to yeast mixture. Make a well in the middle of the flour/butter and add the liquid. Mix by hand just until all flour in incorporated. Place in refrigerator overnight.
4. In the morning, allow dough to warm up sitting at room temperature for 1 hour. Divide dough into 4 balls. On a generously floured surface, roll each ball into a 14 inch circle and spread with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon. Cut into quarters like a pie. Cut each quarter in half. Beginning at the broad end, roll each piece up into a crescent shape. If you want tiny butterhorns, just cut each eighth in half one more time.
5. Place on lightly greased pans. Let rise until double in bulk and bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool or frost with powdered sugar frosting

Powdered Sugar Icing

2 cups of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and beans scraped out with knife (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste)

1. Mix ingredients together until well blended. Mixture should be quite thick – it will thin out when you spread it on the rolls. If it is too thin, add a little milk or if too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. You can also just sprinkle these with powdered sugar when they are cooled.

9 thoughts on “Butterhorns with Vanilla Bean Icing – Here, There and Everywhere!”

  • Holy (insert 4-letter-word here)!!!!!!!

    Not only does my family have this cookbook, I think we may have one of the originals! It belonged to my Great Grandmother Irene, who was, I think, one of the original contributors as well. We have stories about this cookbook. The caricatures you mentioned were drawn by one of the church ladies. I don’t remember her, but my Grandma Elaine can tell you her name.

    It’s old and tattered, but well loved and full of additions. There’s a recipe for himmel-something written in faded pencil on an old calendar page from April 1942. There’s a piece of paper I put in there when I was only seven and had just discovered that rock candy could be made at home. The recipe for Dad’s favorite dessert (Poppy-seed Torte, btw) is in there, as is the Pecan Pie recipe I swear by.

    I didn’t even know they still printed them! Each time I open the book is a walk through family history and old memories – you’re right to describe this book as treasured.

    I’d like to look more into the history of this book – see if my Great-Grandma really did contribute, maybe even bring some copies to the next family reunion. Could you please recommend some links or contact information? I’d be very grateful if you did.

    Thank you! Really, thank you. I’m so pleased and excited to have stumbled across this post, and I’m really looking forward to finding out more.

  • How fun! I love your version, thanks for sharing, it sound delicious! I think my mom did some of those variations too! 🙂 Good memories!

  • Butterhorn recipe from the cookbook is a family favorite. My Mom would make batches and give as Christmas gifts. The only additions: grate some lemon into the dough before putting into frig, along with the sugar/cinnamon we add ground almonds, we dip the each end of the frosted horn in ground almonds, and add a bit of candied cherry to the top.

  • I just was looking for a butterhorn recipe and came across your site. I have the same cookbook that they came out of – actually I think I have two of them. My grandmother even has a recipe in it. The cookbook is so cool because it is handwritten. Our favorite recipe in it is the Lazy Daisy Cake. I will make it for coffee at church and I will have so many people tell me that their grandmothers used to make that cake. I think I will take out my West Bend cook book and make the butterhorn recipe for church on Sunday. Thanks for the post.

  • Thanks, and how fun to check out your blog, you have a very nice site and how wonderful that you cook for your family, I’m sure that they love it!

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