After the rolls rise, you roll out the dough in a rectangle and cut it into 6 equal strips. These are stacked up with — guess what? — more butter! You brush melted butter between the strips of dough, and then cut the stack into sections. These sections are placed on their sides in a (buttered!) muffin cup. As the rolls rise for the second time, and during baking, the layers of dough puff up into a gloriously golden fan of bread. The inside of each roll is moist and tender, while the layers peel away with crisp edges and feathery innards.
But after the rolls come out of the oven, guess what you do? Yep, pour more melted butter over them. In all seriousness, buttery snark aside, this makes for a delicious piece of bread. Butter in, out, and all through. Do not put a butter dish on the table; these rolls don't need it. But do make them, if your cholesterol levels will allow; they are worth the work, and the butter.
Some notes on the recipe itself (butter aside): I found these very hands off and easy. Yes, they need two rise periods, so the recipe start to end takes about 5 hours. But if you are hanging around the house on the weekend, this is not a big deal. Also, some commenters at Epicurious said that they felt these rolls were bland. I am a little mystified on this point (did they not use the butter? All of it?) but I did up the salt slightly. I added about 1/4 teaspoon more than called for, and the rolls had a pleasant buttery tang.
Two thumbs up for fantails! My only regret was that a) I baked them slightly too long, so the bottoms were a bit too brown, and b) I didn't make more.
• Get the recipe: Buttermilk Fantails at Gourmet
Related: Acaça: Brazilian Rice Flour Polenta
(Images: Faith Durand)