I got rebellious. That’s right, it was a tough call and a big decision to make, but I did what had to be done. After all, I like to think of myself as a food explorer, constantly in search for a new recipe. That is why… I tried a new recipe for my crescent rolls!
So… why such a dramatic intro? Because you should know that I already have a perfect rolls recipe, it is THE one. The one that is always requested by my uncle whenever we are invited to one of their parties. The one that makes a huge batch of perfect crescent rolls that stay soft and fluffy for days, but are demolished in a matter of hours. But I just needed to make a change and try out something else. What’s the point in baking otherwise?
While my original recipe requires only 4 main ingredients – flour, milk, oil and yeast, this is more of a brioche-like recipe. It includes – among the big four mentioned above – egg yolks, butter and yoghurt. I love the flavour of butter and the richness it gives to the dough, but I also like the softness and moistness that is achieved by adding oil. Oil really keeps the rolls moist for days, yes, somewhat greasy, but in a good way, it gives the rolls soft and smooth texture. Therefore, I decided to add both ingredients and hoped that each will do its job. Egg yolks add richness to the dough and yoghurt adds the fluff, but also keeps them really soft.
As always, feel free to roll thin pieces of ham and/or cheese inside, fill them with jam (they are not so salty on their own, so a sweet filling will blend in surprisingly well), or do what I lately do – spread a thin layer of cream cheese to get the layers more separated.
Finally, in comparison, which recipe is better? Naturally, I can’t say. My sister sticked to tradition and chose the original to be the one, but personally, I liked the tiny changes this recipe provides. The rest of the hungry lot? Never noticed anything was different…
preparation time: about 3 hours, rising included
baking time: 18-20 minutes, 200°C/400 F
Ingredients for the dough:
350 ml milk
2 Tbsp sugar
70 g unsalted butter
2 cubes fresh yeast
1 kg (1000 g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
150 ml plain yoghurt
100 ml oil
Optional fillings: 300 g cream-cheese spread of your choice, jam, thinly sliced cheese or ham…
Ingredients for the eggwash:
1 whole egg
a Tbsp milk or cream
1. Start by preparing the yeast mixture. In a small skillet combine milk, sugar and butter and let the butter melt on medium low heat. Stir constantly to speed the process up, because by the time the butter is melted, the mixture altogether should be luke warm and perfect for proofing the yeast. Check by sticking your finger in the mixture – if it is too hot for you to handle, let it cool slightly.
2. Crumble fresh yeast into the mixture, stir briefly and set aside for about 3-5 minutes. After that, it should develop foamy layer on top which means the yeast is activated.
3. In the meantime, take a large bowl and sift together flour and salt. Use a bowl of your standing mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment if that’s what you will be using to make the dough. Alternatively, like me, use your trusted two hands because this amount of dough is too much for my hand-held mixer to deal with. But don’t worry, the dough comes together easily and kneading can be very enjoyable and stress releasing.
4. Take a separate smaller bowl or a measuring cup and briefly whisk egg yolks, yoghurt and oil using a fork or a hand whisk, just to make it easier to combine with the flour afterwards.
5. First pour the yeast mixture into the flour and start mixing on low speed. When you see it begins to come together, add egg yolks, yoghurt and oil, turn the speed to medium and let it knead for about 5 minutes until everything gets very smooth.
For those of you doing workout (kneading by hand instead of using an electric mixer), as it gets pretty sticky at the beginning, I suggest using a spatula first. Make a well in the flour, pour in milk with yeast and use a spatula or a wooden spoon to fold the flour in. After the flour gets all “wet” from the milk, add the rest of the ingredients. Stick to the spatula until the dough starts to separate from the bowl as you put it together. Then sprinkle some flour on your working surface, take the dough out and start kneading. It should come together really quickly by that point. Knead until it gets really smooth.
6. Form the dough into a smooth ball, brush the top lightly with some oil, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise. Note that it should double its size, so if your bowl is not big enough, separate the dough into two bowls. Leave in a warm spot for about an hour to 1,5 hours.
7. Take the risen dough and divide it into 6-8 equal portions and work with one at a time. There is no need to knead it once again, it will be very soft and elastic and wonderful to work with.
8. On a floured surface roll out the first portion of dough into a large circle. From here it is up to you – choose the size of your rolls by cutting the circle into four, six or eight triangles. Also, roll it thinly to get more layers and more of a crescent-like effect or roll it out thicker to make them fluffier. I suggest keeping the minimum thickness of 4-5 mm.
Spread a thin layer of butter, cream cheese or jam, or put a thin slice of cheese or cooked ham on top of each piece if you want to. Then form the crescent by stretching the outer part of the triangle slightly to make it a bit wider. Using one hand gently pull the bottom of the triangle (in the centre of the circle) to thin it out and using your other hand roll the triangle from the wider part towards it.
Have I turned it into a complicated mess? Roll the triangle tightly from the wider part to the peak and voila – a crescent is formed!
9. Place the rolls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper putting the seem to the bottom. Brush them with eggwash – in a small bowl lightly whisk a whole egg with a tablespoon of milk or cream – and sprinkle with a topping if you want to. If you are making plain rolls, I suggest a light sprinkle of salt or poppy seeds. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you filled the rolls with ham or cheese and if filled with jam, go ahead and sprinkle the tops with some sugar.
10. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400 F. Preheating the oven at this stage will give the rolls a chance to relax and puff up again (about 15-20 minutes).
11. Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, depending on the size of the rolls. The bigger and fatter they are, the more time they need in the oven. Keep an eye on the first batch from about 12 minutes of bakin time to see how fast they progress. They should be golden on top and the bottom and pillowy soft in the centre. As first batch bakes, roll out and form the next batch. It goes pretty fast from here.
12. Enjoy warm rolls as an appetizer or a side. Store any leftovers covered to prevent from drying out. Bon apetit!