Recipe: Herbed Olive Oil Fantail Rolls

updated Jan 21, 2020
Herbed Olive Oil Fantail Rolls
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Remember these buttermilk fantail rolls that I raved about a couple weeks ago? They are delicious. I did lament their prodigious reliance on butter, though, and reader UtopianFlower asked if olive oil could be substituted. Why yes! I thought. Why not? Here’s a tweaked recipe, with a couple other changes of my own. And you know what? I actually like these better than the originals.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The primary change that I made to this recipe has to do with the olive oil. I substituted olive oil for the butter, which changes the flavor, of course, but also makes these a little flakier — almost like a brioche. I also substituted yogurt for the buttermilk to give them an even more pronounced tanginess and help offset the golden flavor of the olive oil. I added chives, for some herbed summer flavor, and my guests (who had tried the original fantails as well) raved about this change. They loved the light onion fragrance the chives added. I also want to try these with thyme or rosemary.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

The other change I made (besides doubling the recipe!) is to the method. See, I like these rolls really flaky. Six layers of fantail wasn’t enough for me. I changed the method to reflect this. Instead of stacking up six layers of dough, I stacked up 12. This makes for a tall, teetery stack of dough layers, but if you prop them up against your rolling pin or canister, it’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s rather fun: building bread! The increased number of layers makes these slightly less photogenic than the original, but people just love peeling away all those thin, flaky layers and eating them one by one!

This type of roll is probably my new favorite sort of bread for dinner parties. Yes, it takes a little while to put together, but if you are at home all day, it’s so easy. There is very little hands-on time, and the payoff is just so worth it.

Herbed Olive Oil Fantail Rolls

Makes 2 dozen rolls

Nutritional Info


  • 4 teaspoons

    active dry yeast

  • 3/4 cup

    warm water (warm to the touch, but not hot)

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 4 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

  • 3 cups

    bread flour

  • 3 1/2

    teaspoons salt

  • 1 1/4 cup

    plain yogurt

  • 1 cup

    chives, finely chopped

  • 1 cup

    olive oil, divided


  1. Whisk together the yeast, warm water, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it stand until the mixture looks foamy and bubbled up on top — about 5 minutes. (If the mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.)

  2. Stir the all-purpose flour, bread flour, salt, yogurt, chives, and 3/4 cup olive oil into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or the stand mixer paddle just until a soft dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth (or turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes). The dough will still look and feel slightly shaggy, because of the oil; it won't have the perfectly smooth, taut feel of a more traditional yeast dough.

  3. Form dough into a ball and coat lightly with olive oil. Turn it over in the bowl and cover the bowl with a towel. Let rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  4. Oil the wells of 2 muffin tins lightly with olive oil and have them ready. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and separate it into 4 equal pieces with a sharp bench scraper. Work with one piece of dough at a time and keep the rest covered with a kitchen towel.

  5. Roll out one of the pieces into a long, thin rectangle (about 12 inches by 18 inches). Brush the dough lightly with olive oil. Cut the dough crossways into 12 equal strips. Stack the strips, oiled side up, into a tall stack. (It is helpful to prop the stack against the rolling pin while doing this!) Cut the stack into 6 pieces. Turn each piece on its side, so the cut layers face up, and place in a prepared muffin cup. Separate the layers slightly so they fan outward. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

  6. Cover the muffin tins with a kitchen towel and let the rolls rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until barely golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

This recipe was originally published June 2010.