I found this recipe during a bout of insomnia while visiting CK’s grandparents in Connecticut. Amusingly enough, I don’t own one of those all-in-one printer, copier, scanner machines but the Kellys do, so I sat in their office flipping through pages and pages of recipes and photocopying the ones I hoped to try. I suppose to some extent these actions were a cookbook addicts way of counting sheep.
You may recall that I used to vehemently hate baking bread for the rather persnickety reason that I considered it to be messy. My thinking on this subject changed dramatically though after taking a pizza making class a few years ago.
Suddenly kneading and stray flour covering my counter didn’t seem so bad. It felt like an accomplishment to watch a ball of shaggy dough slowly transform from sticky to perfectly textured. There are a great number of actions in the cooking process that can devolve into annoyance and thinly veiled rage for me but thankfully this one no longer makes my list.
What I love most about this particular recipe is how elegant the finished product looks snuggled in a basket on your table with a pretty cloth napkin tucked around the edges. The fan shape gives the illusion of complication, when in reality they’re quite simple to make, and the dash of Italian herbs dresses the roll up in both looks and taste just enough to make your guests eagerly ask for the recipe while reaching for another.
Herbed Fan Rolls
Inspired by the recipe originally published in the Taste of Home 2010 Christmas Cookbook
For the rolls:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110º to 115º)
1/2 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
3/4 cups warm 2% milk (110º to 115º)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Add the milk, melted butter, egg, salt, 3 cups flour, and remaining sugar; beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions. Roll each portion into a 14-inch by 6-inch rectangle. Combine softened butter, basil, and oregano together and spread evenly over each portion of dough.
Score each rectangle width-wise at 2 inch intervals. Using marks as a guide, fold dough accordion-style back and forth along score lines. Cut folded dough into six 1-inch pieces. Place pieces cut side down in greased muffin cups. Cover loosely and allow the rolls to rise for 30 minutes.
Bake at 375º for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Promptly remove the rolls from the pan and place on a wire rack. Serve warm (if possible).