It would not be the Smitten Kitchen if I wasn’t popping in here, chaotic as ever, 24 hours before the cooking- and eating-est day of most of our years, to suggest a new recipe for your menus, that, judging by my DMs, you settled weeks ago. Good news, however, there’s no timestamp on dinner rolls, especially ones as wonderful as these. If anything, I don’t think we eat them often enough — you know, just because it’s Wednesday.
One of my favorite recipe concepts from late Gourmet years is Ruth Cousineau’s buttermilk fantail rolls. It’s a startling simple recipe — a buttery, yeast-raised roll — with a brilliant twist: rolling it thin, brushing it with butter, stacking it in little piles of squares, turning each into the cup of a muffin tin. In the oven, the rolls spring open like a fantail, just the loveliest thing. Why make ordinary rolls if you could make rolls that evoke a highly agile bird known for taking intricate looping flights through the air, entrapping prey in their fanned tails? Or if that’s not the energy you want on your holiday table, Gourmet described them at the time as a “blooming flower, with each petal forming a perfect pull-apart bite.”
Over the years I’ve tweaked them quite a bit, though, using a smaller amount of sour cream for the buttermilk, an egg for a little stretchy tenderness, dropped the butter slightly, bumped up the salt, and then this year, because I want what I want and nobody talked me out of it, gave it a most blissful sour cream and chives vibe. I hope you bring the same energy — only the foods you love the most, made exactly the way you like them — to your quieter holiday table this year.
6 months ago: Beach Bean Salad
1 year ago: Dry-Brined Turkey with Roasted Onions
2 years ago: Drop Cornbread Biscuits
3 years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
4 years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Pumpkin Slab Pie
5 years ago: Apple Cider Sangria and Date, Feta, and Cabbage Salad
6 years ago: Pickled Cabbage Salad and Pretzel Parker House Rolls
7 years ago: Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns and Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onion
8 years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
9 years ago: Gingersnaps
10 years ago: Upside-Down Cranberry Cake and Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese
11 years ago: Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin and Sweet Potato and Buttermilk Pie
12 years ago: Pepita Brittle and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers
13 years ago: Roasted Stuffed Onions and Simplest Apple Tart
14 years ago: Chocolate Stout Cake
Sour Cream and Chive Fantails
- 6 tablespoons (90 grams) warm water (about 115°F)
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (from a 1/4-ounce or 7-gram packet)
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Two pinches fine sea salt
- Flour for dusting
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together water, sugar, and yeast and let rest for 5 minutes; it will get foamy. (While this is not absolutely necessary with instant yeast, I find that it can move along faster when I start it with warm water.)
- In a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let it bring the mixture together into a messy mass, about 1 to 2 minutes. If it doesn’t come together, add additional 1 tablespoon water, mixing thoroughly before adding a second, if needed. Reduce the speed to low and knead for 5 minutes.
- By hand, stir the flour and salt into the yeast mixture as best as possible and transfer it to a lightly floured counter. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Both methods: Lightly oil a bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover with a towel or plastic and set aside in a warmish spot for 90 minutes, or until just about doubled. (It sometimes takes up to 2 hours.)
Whisk in sour cream, egg, and butter until smooth. Add flour and salt.
Brush the 12 cups of a standard muffin pan lightly with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine onion powder, garlic powder, and a couple pinches of salt in a small dish.
Turn dough out onto a floured counter. Divide in half. Sprinkle with flour and roll first half to a 12-inch square. Brush with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter and sprinkle with half of onion powder mixture, and half of chives. Cut the square 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 (I put the ruffliest-looking side up). Repeat with remaining half of dough, another 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter, remaining spices and 1 tablespoon chives. Separate outer layers of each roll slightly to fan outward. Let rise in another warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough mostly fills out cups.
Shortly before the hour is up, heat oven to 375°F.
Bake rolls until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, or until the center of each is 200°F. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, brush rolls with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and scatter with remaining chives (and a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you wish) then transfer rolls to a rack and cool 10 minutes before tearing in.
Do ahead: You can pause this recipe for an overnight chill in the fridge either after you mix the dough and before it doubles or after you put the squares into your tins. Remove from the fridge and let them come back to room temperature (and finish rising, if necessary) before continuing. If rolls are already baked, rewarm for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven (any temperature from 300°F to 400°F will be fine.)