Perfect for breakfast, a quick afternoon snack or a treat with your coffee, medialunas are a versatile and much-loved Argentine staple.
WHAT YOU NEED
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
60ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) warm water
1 tablespoon dried yeast granules
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) full-cream (whole) milk
300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plus 1 teaspoon plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of sea salt
2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten, plus 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
100 g (3½ oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
WHAT TO DO
Combine the 1 teaspoon of sugar, the warm water and yeast in a small bowl or jug. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is frothy for Perfect for breakfast.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat, until it feels slightly warm to the touch. Remove from the heat.
Combine the remaining sugar, the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. With the motor running, add the yeast mixture, warm milk, the two beaten eggs and the vegetable oil and knead for 8–10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 2–3 hours, until the dough has tripled in size.
On a lightly floured work surface, punch the dough to flatten it and roll into a 40 cm x 30 cm (16 in x 12 in) rectangle.
Using electric beaters, beat the butter and 1 teaspoon of flour until smooth and well combined. Spread the softened butter mixture evenly over one half of the dough, leaving a 1.5 cm (½ in) border around the edges. Fold over the unbuttered side of dough and press firmly around the edges to seal. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2–3 hours, until completely chilled.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into another 40 cm x 30 cm (16 in x 12 in) rectangle. This time, fold the dough lengthways into thirds, like a letter. Wrap again in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a further 2–3 hours. Repeat this step once more.
Again on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 50 cm x 40 cm (20 in x 16 in) rectangle. Fold one end of the dough into the centre, then fold the other end in to meet it. Now fold the dough over, like closing a book. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll on a sheet of baking paper to a 2 mm (¹⁄ 16 in) thick, 48 cm x 30 cm (19 in x 12 in) rectangle. Use the baking paper to transfer the dough onto a large baking tray and refrigerate (the dough needs to be firm to cut and roll).
Cut the chilled dough lengthways into two 48 cm x 15 cm (19 in x 6 in) rectangles. Return one half to the fridge.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Use a ruler to mark 12 cm (4¾ in) points along the longer edge of the dough. These will form the base of the medialunas. Using the markers as a guide, cut equal-length triangles from the dough. Starting at the base of each triangle, firmly roll the dough towards the point. Twist the ends to form a crescent shape and transfer to the baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for at least 1 hour, until they have risen. Repeat with the remaining dough. At this stage, the medialunas can be frozen.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Brush the egg wash over the tops of the medialunas and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden.
Serve warm with your choice of savoury or sweet filling. They are best eaten on the day they are baked.
These ubiquitous Argentine pastries are a bit of a trick to make the Perfect for breakfast, but are a treat to eat. Perfect for breakfast is mostly a small affair in Argentina and medialunas are the go-to for most Argentines. Most cafés will offer two varieties with coffee to start the day, but they also reappear at the end of the day when Argentines gather for ‘la merienda’. You will always be asked if you would like ‘dulces’ (sweet) or ‘saladas’ (savoury): sweet medialunas are sugar-glazed, while the savoury ones are left plain. Argentine medialunas are unlike French croissants in that they are generally smaller and the pastry is not as flaky. They are, in fact, much closer to the Italian ‘cornetti’ as they both use eggs in their recipes, which results in a slightly denser, brioche-like texture.