Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Buttermilk Fantails

I loathe mail. It's never good. No one sends happy, well-wishing cards or friendly letters- just utility bills, medical bills, and ads for the latest oil change specials at the local dealerships. It's depressing. Fortunately, my wonderful mother gave me a subscription to Gourmet for Christmas, so I now have a tiny light at the end of my mailbox, a glimmer of hope, and a reason to hug my mailman sometime during the third week of every month. Fortunately for the mailman, I'm usually not home when he comes around... Anyways, last month's edition of Gourmet had me jauntily skipping back to my kitchen after I saw the front cover :

I mean, really- how can that NOT make you happy?

I love bread in almost all forms- so much so, that I rarely make any at home to serve with meals. It's unfortunate, because I love making bread as much as I love eating it. Something about the process of kneading dough is very therapeutic and rewarding. But alas, I have no self control, and I fear that if I were to bake bread on a regular basis, my carbaholic husband and I would turn into starched-out porkers faster than you can say "pass the dipping oil, please." The hubs has begged, pleaded, bribed, and put on his puppy dog eyes in several attempts to break my resolve, but I am not so easily swayed. I have staunchly avoided making bread to serve with dinner, with the exception of holidays and days that I know the hubs has had it rought at work, and I do occasionally make a good French baguette for the poor man. Come on, I'm not completely heartless.

So imagine his surprise when he came home to these delicious little beauties the other day. I told him I made them because we were having company, but the truth is that I just really wanted to try one... or two... ok, four. I love how fussy they look, yet how easy they are to prepare. Did I mention that they're really tasty? The flavor is well-balanced, but I think I like the texture even more. Each substantial, yet not too heavy petal turns into a little pillow of fluffy, buttery goodness in your mouth. They're not head-over-heels insanely delicious, but they are very good rolls that I will be making again.

Buttermilk Fantails
(Adapted from February 2009 Gourmet)
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon mild honey or sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • Equipment: a muffin pan with 12 (1/3- to 1/2-cup) muffin cups

1. Butter muffin cups with 1 Tbsp melted butter.

2. Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.)

3. Mix flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 Tbsp melted butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.
4. Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Roll out half of dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick; keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap).
6. Brush dough with 1/2 Tbsp butter and cut into 6 equal strips. Stack strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate outer layers of each roll to fan outward. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

7. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush tops with remaining 2 Tbsp butter, then transfer rolls to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.
Cooks’ note: Rolls are best the day they’re made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.


  1. I hate/love how yours looks exactly like the picture on Gourmet!

  2. Haha! I guess I know I got them right :).

  3. Wow, these look good!!! Really, I'm just drooling here and debating whether I should run to the pantry and break out the yeast. Bread with honey and buttermilk is just... yeah... so good.