What are these cute little things?
They are step #2 in the Chelsea-sourdoughizes-Gourmet-rolls project.
Specifically, they are a sourdough version of Buttermilk Fantails. Fantails are a shape of roll which I had never encountered before – not by eating them, and certainly not by baking them.
And I’ve never been one to think that the shape of a bread, or cookie, or piece of food in general adds much to its flavor or deliciousness. However, in this case, it does. The key is that as you stack the layers of rolled dough on top of each other to make the fantail, you brush each one with melted butter to help them stick together. Mmmmm….. butter. Shape is just an excuse for butter. And it makes everything better. The normal loaf I formed out of the other half of the dough was good, but it wasn’t as good as these little guys.
Independent confirmation (here is the scientist, or perhaps journalist, in me speaking) comes from Moni, the 15-year-old Bulgarian skier who was staying with us. While it’s true that he thought there was cheese involved, there was no disguising how excited he was about these rolls. Moni wandered into the kitchen and told me, “Those smell like…. torture.” When I told him that he could, in fact, eat one, his eyes got wide. “Really?” Yes, bread is for eating!
Lauren also approved, saying they were the best rolls she had ever eaten. I think that might be hyperbole but she swears it isn’t.
So: make ’em. Or at least make fantails with your favorite bread recipe, brush the layers with butter, and enjoy the few added pounds you will soon sport on your waistline.
I’m sending these to YeastSpotting.
Sourdough Buttermilk Fantails
(adapted from Gourmet February 2009)
1 cup fed sourdough starter
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups shaken buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons
6+ cups white flour
3/4 cup rye flour
Mix together the sourdough starter, water, honey, salt, rye flour, and 1 cup flour. Let sit for five minutes, then add the buttermilk and stick of melted butter. Add the flour a cup at a time, mixing until you have a knead-able ball, and then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Let it sit for a few minutes while you rinse out the bowl and brush it with oil. Then, knead the dough for 3-4 minutes or until it forms a nice, loose mass. Place it in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 2-3 hours.
As the dough finishes rising, prepare two one-dozen muffin pans by buttering each muffin hole.
Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide with a bench scraper into four even pieces. Don’t knead it before you do this! Working with one piece at a time, stretch the dough into a rough rectangle and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough quite thin, keeping it in a rectangular shape as much as possible. Brush the top of this rectangle with some of the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Next, cut the rectangle into 6 long narrow strips using your bench scraper, and stack the strips on top of each other. Then use the bench scraper to cut this one long, narrow stack of dough into six smallish squares/rectangles. Pick the piles up one by one and place them in the muffin tin, with one of the cut sides down, and one poking out of the top of the mold. Arrange the corners on the top of each roll into a rough fan shape.
Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough. You will have two dozen rolls; cover the tins with plastic wrap and let rise an hour to an hour and a half.
Preheat the oven to 425°F, and once it’s hot throw just a few ice cubes on the bottom. Slide the muffin tins in and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. They are especially delicious when hot, so don’t hold back!