I love, love, love crescent rolls. Their browned, slightly crisp exterior and their white, fluffy, soft, cloud-life interior. For a long time they were a staple at our Thanksgiving table but for some reason the last few years they have been missing. Maybe it’s because pre-made, refrigerated, canned bread can only taste so good. However, homemade, freshly baked, still-warm bread will almost always taste phenomenal. When I first thumbed through my copy of The New Best Recipe, I added this recipe to my to-bake list. I don’t know why it took me so long to actually make them. Maybe because the recipe seemed daunting. When I finally did bake these I realized that the recipe itself isn’t so complicated, you just have to follow directions (something we all have a problem with sometimes).
Be sure to use the milk and flour called for in this recipe, no substitutions. This is what makes the rolls so light and fluffy.
Taste: No artificial aftertastes like the refrigerated crescent rolls. These rolls are just pure goodness.
Texture: Slightly crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy inside.
Ease: There are quite a few steps involved in this recipe. Luckily, there are ways to make these ahead of time so you can spread out the work.
Appearance: A basket of these rolls would look beautiful anywhere.
Pros: Perfect for so many occasions but especially the holidays.
Cons: Slightly daunting. Just read the directions through completely (the dough requires an overnight rest) and decide what you’re going to do to make these ahead of time.
Would I make this again? Yes. I have a par-baked batch in the freezer!
Roll out the dough into a 20×13-inch rectangle (which was almost exactly the size of my cutting board). Trim edges with a pastry or pizza cutter.
Cut dough in half lengthwise.
Cut 16 triangles. They don’t have to be absolutely perfect, you’re just going to roll them up.
So pretty! Before rolling into a crescent elongate each dough triangle by 2-3 inches. Starting with the wide end gently roll up each triangle, ending with the tip on the bottom. Push the ends towards each other to form crescent. Place in 4 rows on baking sheet and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
How to make Crescent Rolls
Yield: 16 rolls
Note: Dough can be made up to 4 days ahead of time. Partially baked rolls can be frozen for up to 1 month. To partially bake rolls follow directions, but let them bake at 350 degrees for only 4 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool completely, then place in a single layer in a resealable plastic bag in freezer. When ready to serve defrost at room temperature and bake at 350 degrees F for 12-16 minutes.
3/4 cup skim milk
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
4 cups (20 ounces) lower-protein unbleached all-purpose flour (such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury), plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
Heat the milk, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan or in the microwave until the butter is mostly melted and the mixture is warm (about 110 degrees), about 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk to dissolve sugar. Beat the eggs lightly in a medium bowl; add about 1/3 of the warm milk mixture to eggs, whisking to combine. When bottom of bowl feels warm, add remaining milk mixture, whisking to combine.
Combine the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the milk-egg mixture in a steady stream. Continue mixing on low until a loose, shiny dough forms (you may also see satiny webs as the dough moves around the bowl), about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat 1 minutes; add salt slowly and continue beating until stronger webs form, about 3 minutes longer. The dough will remain loose instead of forming a cohesive mass. Transfer the dough to a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free spot until the dough doubles in bulk and the surface feels tacky, about 3 hours.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Turn the dough onto baking sheet and form into a loose rectangle. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough rectangle onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough to a 20x13-inch rectangle. Use a pizza wheel to trim edges. Cut the dough in half lengthwise, then cut 16 triangles. Before rolling into crescents, elongate each triangle of dough, stretching it an additional 2-3 inches in length. Starting at the wide end, gently roll up each crescent, ending with the pointed tip on bottom, and push the ends toward each other to form a crescent shape. Arrange the crescents in 4 rows on prepared baking sheet; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and let rise until the crescents have lost their chill and feel slightly tacky and soft. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position. Adjust the other rack to the lower position and place an empty baking pan on it. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Whisk the egg white with the water in a small bowl until well-combined. With a pastry brush, lightly dab the risen crescent rolls with the egg wash. Transfer the baking sheet with the rolls to the lower-middle oven rack and, working quickly, pour 1 cup hot tap water into the hot baking pan on the bottom rack. Close the door immediately and bake 10 minutes; reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until the tops are golden brown 12-16 minutes longer. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack, cool for 5 minutes, and serve warm.
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