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Fan Tans
A traditional part of a Thanksgiving or Christmas Day dinner!

Yield:24 rolls
Active Time:1 Hour //** 45 minutes to prepare dough; 15 minutes to shape rolls
Total Time:3.9-4.9 Hours //** 2-3 hours to rise; ~30 minutes to rise; ~20 minutes to bake

If you are an experienced bread maker, you probably already have all of these items...
  • Measuing Cups and Spoons //** 1 Cup, 1/4 Cup, 1 Tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Spatula //** To stir hot milk, tamp down dough kneading in mixer
  • KitchenAid® 5 Quart Tilt-Head Mixer, Bowl, and Dough Hook //** 4.5 Quart is OK
  • Heavy (copper) 1-2 Quart saucepan (to scald milk)
  • Fork (typical kitchen stainless steal dinner fork, for mixing)
  • Plastic Wrap (to cover bowl while dough is rising)
  • Kitchen Towel (to cover bowl while dough is rising)
  • Long knife (9-12") to cut rolled dough into strips (or use a Pizza Cutter Wheel)
  • Wooden Rolling Pin
  • Flat hard surface //** Marble/granite counter at least 3' x 3' is ideal
  • Muffin Pans //** For 24 rolls: 2 typical 3x4 configuration pans
  • Tiny pan (for melting butter)
  • Pastry Brush //** Natural boar hair is traditional, but rubbery versions work

1/3 CupWater (Lukewarm: 100F-110F)
1 pkgYeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) //** Must be fresh!
2 CupsWhole Milk
2 TbspSugar //** 1T to proof Yeast, 1T for scalded Milk
10 TbspButter (unsalted) //** Used 3 times: 4T dough, 2T grease tins, 4T brush dough
1 tspSalt
2Eggs (Large)
5+ CupsFlour (unbleached) //** NOTE: Depending upon flour and humidity, will use 5-7 Cups!

Very Detailed Instructions
  1. 45 MINUTES: Prepare Dough to Rise
    In small bowl combine 1/3 C Water (lukewarm = ~120F), 1T Sugar, and the Yeast. Proof ("proove itself") the mixture for 10-20 minutes. If Yeast mixture does not foam, yeast was too old, or water was too hot (or too cold).
  2. In saucepan, scald 2C milk. //** Bring close to a boil over medium heat. Skin will start to form.
  3. Pour hot milk into mixer bowl, add 1T Sugar, 1t Salt, and 4T Butter.
  4. ~15-20 MINUTES: Allow Butter to melt and Milk to cool to lukewarm (100F-110F).
    (Yeast will be proofing at the same time.)
  5. Put 4T of Butter in the tiny pan and place on stove top at lowest setting to melt (for the rising bowl and for painting the dough slices).
  6. Add 2 Large Eggs and to Milk and beat gently with fork to break up the Eggs.
  7. Use spatula to scrape proofed Yeast mixture into the Milk mixture, using the Fork to combine.
  8. Add 4 Cups of Flour to the milk mixture, install dough hook, lock bowl into the mixer, lock the tilt head, and turn the mixer on to lowest setting. Scrape sides as necessary to incorporate all the flour. Increase Mixer speed as appropriate. As needed, stop mixer, unlock and tilt head back, scrape dough off dough hook and bowl sides.
  9. Your aim is a soft, smooth, satiny dough which is pliable but not sticky.
    Add flour 1/4 to 1/2 Cup at a time, being careful not to add too much flour.
    This bulk of dough is a bit larger than the 4.5-5.0 quart mixer is designed for, so you have to watch for dough to creep over the wide base of the dough hook, and be prepared to push it down with your spatula.
  10. When done kneading with the mixer, the dough will be satin smooth and barely sticky.
  11. Take the dough out and finish kneading by hand on the flat surface, adding small amounts of flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking to surface.
    Wash out and dry the mixer bowl.
    Very lightly butter the inside of the bowl, put the dough in and turn to coat evenly with butter. Cover the bowl with piece of Plastic Wrap (to retain mosture) and a clean dish towel (insulation!) and put in a warm place to rise.
  12. 2-3 HOURS: Allow dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk
  13. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
  14. Warm up muffin pans (in oven), then use ~2T butter to grease the individual wells and the rims (the warm pans will melt the solid butter, making greasing easier).
  15. ~15 MINUTES: Shape the Fan Tans
    Remove dough, roll out with rolling pin to roughly 1/8" thick. //** Roughly 10.5" x 36"
  16. Cut the dough into two equal sections (knife or cutter). //** Roughly 10.5" x 18" each
  17. Carefully cut the section into 7 ~1.5"-wide strips. //** Each strip is ~18" long
  18. Use the pastry brush to apply ~2T Butter to the 7 strips.
  19. Stack the strips one-by-one on top of each other (you will have a stack of 7 layers).
  20. Cut stack in half, and again into halves, and cut each of the 4 stacks into 3 pieces (12 pieces total) Put each piece, cut side up, into a separate muffin well.
  21. Repeat these steps for the second ~10.5" x ~18" section.
  22. ~30 MINUTES: Allow rolls to rise until roughly double in bulk
  23. ~20 MINUTES: Bake rolls at 375F until nicely browned (see photo above).
  24. Place a large cotton dish towel in a large bowl, tumble the Fan Tans gently into the towel, fold the ends of the towel over to cover the Fan Tans, and they will stay delightfully warm at the dinner table.
From The Gourmet Cookbook (Volume I), (c) 1950, Gourmet, Inc.
Transcribed and Elaborated by Ben Slivka on 12/25/2013

Last updated Thursday, January 12th, 2023.
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