If you’ve been to Argentina, you know that every breakfast consists of Medialunas and coffee. The first thing I do when I arrive in Buenos Aires is to scope out the coffee shops near whichever apartment I’m staying in, and find the one with the best Medialunas. If you haven’t been to Argentina, let me explain. Medialunas are similar to the French Croissant, but also completely different. The dough for the Medialunas is a sweet dough, and even has some vanilla in it. When the pastries come out of the oven they are doused with almíbar, a sugary sweet glaze. And while the Medialuna consists of layers of dough and butter folded together and shaped like a half moon, it is generally much smaller than its cousin, the Croissant. The word Medialuna translates directly into half moon – media (half) luna (moon). So there’s your Spanish lesson for the day. I don’t know what, if anything, Croissant translates into – my high school level French is of no use here.
I had always been intimidated by this type of pastry, what with all of the folding, resting, folding, etc., and it did take me a few tries to get it to a level which I deemed acceptable. I also had to endure several episodes of Cocineros Argentinos, watch an entertaining episode of Paulina, and combine that with some written recipes. In the end, my Medialunas came out light, fluffy, and delicious! The process does take a big chunk of a day, but most of it is hands off, so you can be doing other things around the house while the dough does its thing.
Once you’ve done your rolling out of the dough and butter, it’s time to shape your half-moons! Take note, the ones in the photos above were shaped backwards, but they still came out great! When you make these, you want to curve the crescent so that the “tail” is pointing towards the inside of the moon, not the other way around like I did.
Medialunas are delicious served plain with your morning coffee, but also make a fantastic little lunchtime sandwich or afternoon snack filled with ham and cheese (I make the sandwich and put it in a 350F oven for 10 minutes).
For pastry dough:
- 7 ½ oz Milk
- 100 g sugar
- 1 tbsp Instant Yeast
- 10 g honey
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 600 g Pastry Flour
For the empaste:
- 1 Cup Butter
For egg wash:
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp water
For the almíbar:
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 20 g honey
- 3 tbsp Water
- Heat the milk in a large bowl in the microwave until it is between 100°F and 110°F. Stir in one tsp of sugar and the yeast. Set aside until mixture looks foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the sugar, the honey, eggs, vanilla, and salt, and mix well.
- Add the flour a little at a time. Incorporate all the ingredients together, first mixing with a spoon or a dough whisk and then kneading with your hands for about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, make the empaste: place the 2 sticks of cold butter side by side on a large piece of plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic and roll the butter together to form a 6" by 6" flat square(ish). Chill the butter square for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Remove both the dough and the butter square from the refrigerator. You want them to be about the same texture.
- On a floured surface, roll out the yeast dough into a large 11″ by 11″ square. If the dough is too cold and firm, allow it to rest for a few minutes and then continue to roll it out. Place the butter square in the middle of the rolled out dough, positioned so that its corners point to the middle of each side of the rolled out dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter so that they meet in the middle and completely enclose the butter layer.
- Turn the dough over, lightly flouring the counter again, and quickly roll the dough square into a slightly larger rectangle, about 12″ by 16″ in size. Fold the rectangle of dough into thirds lengthwise, like a letter. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out into a large rectangle again. Fold into thirds, wrap with plastic and return the dough to the refrigerator. Repeat this procedure again, for a total of 3 times. Chill dough thoroughly. Can be left in the refrigerator overnight.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cut the dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out one half of the dough into a large rectangle, about 14" by 18". If desired, trim the edges a bit to make it a neat rectangle. Cut the dough in half lengthwise. Cut each rectangle of dough into isosceles triangles. Refrigerate the triangles for 10-15 minutes if the dough is starting to get warm.
- Gently pull the corners of the triangles to form a tall triangle. Then roll the dough to form a medialuna. The medialuna should form a curve as it rolls. Place the medialuna onto the baking sheet, bending it into a crescent shape. Press down lightly on the ends of the crescents to adhere to the parchment. Repeat with remaining triangles of dough.
- Let the pastries rise in a warm place until puffy, about two hours.
- While the medialunas are resting, place the sugar, honey, and water in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush the medialunas lightly with the egg wash.
- Bake pastries for 15-20 minutes until golden brown (the internal temperature should be 200°F). Remove from oven and brush immediately with the almíbar.
- Serve warm.