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How to Make Butter Fan Rolls

Why this recipe works Butter fan rolls are fancy enough for a dinner party, but they’re also great pulled apart and slathered with sweet jam for breakfast. The success of these rolls lies in the layers. But getting striking, fanned-out minibreads requires some serious countertop construction work. We kept the process easy with a roll, cut, butter, and stack technique. Once we’d built the stacks of dough, we placed them in a muffin tin, cut side up. In order to keep the tips of the fans from becoming crunchy, we baked the rolls on the upper-middle rack in the oven, which distanced them from the heat source. We used whole milk along with sugar and a liberal amount of butter to give these rolls plenty of richness.

  • makes 12 rolls
  • rising time 3 to 4 hours
  • baking time 20 minutes
  • total time 4½ to 5½ hours
  • key equipment 12-cup muffin tin, rolling pin, pastry brush


  • 3½ cups (17½ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) whole milk, room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk, room temperature

1). Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, 8 tablespoons melted butter, sugar, and egg and yolk in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and clears sides of bowl, about 6 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.


2). Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.


3). Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Press and roll 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece covered) into 15 by 12-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge.


4). Using pizza cutter or chef’s knife, square off edges of rectangle, then cut dough vertically into 6 (2½ by 12-inch) strips. Brush tops of 5 strips evenly with 1 tablespoon melted butter, leaving 1 strip unbuttered. Stack strips on top of each other, buttered to unbuttered side, finishing with unbuttered strip on top; cut into 6 stacks.


5). Place stacks cut side up in muffin cups. Repeat with remaining dough and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover muffin tin loosely with greased plastic and let dough rise until nearly doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. (Unrisen rolls can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)


6). Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let rolls cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, brush with remaining melted butter, and serve warm.


a step-by-step guide