I saw these rolls on Tracey's blog a while back, and kept them filed away in my memory, just waiting for an occasion to make them. Thanksgiving was the perfect excuse. I made these along with a flourless chocolate cake, sweet potato pie, French silk pie (post coming tomorrow) and cranberry sauce.
I love the look of these rolls, so festive, so fancy! The technique for making them is so simple, but the result is just stunning. They're also really fun to eat, as you can peel them away layer by layer. The way they're formed also gives a variety of textures which I loved - lots of crispy edges. The interior is fluffy and light and soft.
I was tempted to put some whole grain flour in these, or some fresh cut herbs, but in the end I made them basically as written. I thought the flavor of the rolls could be improved upon, so I wish I had done either (or both) of those additions. I will definitely be making these again, adding my own little tweaks.
adapted from Gourmet, February 2009
7 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4-3/4 cup buttermilk
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine water, yeast, flour, salt and 6 tablespoons of melted butter. With mixer on low, add buttermilk in a thin stream until all dry ingredients are moistened and a soft dough forms. Switch to dough hook, and mix on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic - about 5-7 minutes - adding more buttermilk or flour to achieve the proper consistency. Form dough into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, rotating to coat the dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size. About 1 1/2 - 2 hours. While dough is rising, butter cups of a 12-cup muffin pan. When dough has risen, punch it down then divide it in two equal pieces. While working with the first piece, keep the second covered with plastic. Place first ball of dough on floured board, and roll it into a square about 12" x12" and 1/8 inch thick. Brush dough with half of the remaining melted butter. Cut the dough into six strips, about 2" wide. Stack all 6 strips on top of each other, butter side up. Cut stack into 6 equal pieces. Place each piece in a muffin cup, then peel way the layers so that they fan outward. Repeat with second ball of dough. Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel, and leave them in a warm place to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size - the rolls should fill the muffin cups. When the rolls are close to the end of their second rise, preheat oven to 375. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Tracey has step-by-step photos on her blog if you want to take a look at how the rolls are formed.