Argentinians love their medialunas. From the capital city to small sea-side towns, these freshly baked croissants can be found in any cafe in the country. It is in Mar del Plata, however, that the country’s best medialunas are to be found. My numerous sources (members of Arie’s family) have all convinced me that the medialunas made in Mar del Plata are far superior because of the water here. Legend has it that one bakery even tried transporting water from Mar del Plata to Buenos Aires to make their medialunas. Crazy? Maybe. Not everyone agrees on the details of the story, but there’s no argument that the medialunas here are delicious.
To make such large quantities of medialunas, bakeries have a machine that folds and rolls the dough many times over. It is this process of folding and rolling that creates all the flaky layers. However, even without a machine, it is easy to learn to make them at home. After surviving my first batch, I was hooked. The whole process takes about 2 hours from start to finish, including several breaks while waiting for the dough to rise in the refrigerator.
I’ve started the tradition of making a batch of dough every Monday while watching a movie musical. Listening to the music makes the time fly by. Before I know it, the movie is over, and I have a whole batch ready for the oven. This recipe makes enough medialunas to last Arie and I several mornings. They are best hot out of the oven, so I wrap and refrigerate the triangles of dough, then bake a few as needed.
To make the medialunas just like the cafes here, try drizzling them with a delicious sugar-rum glaze (recipe below). Or you can simply enjoy eating them with dulce de leche, marmalade, Nutella, or a little butter.
I don’t know if it’s the special water here in Mar del Plata or the thrill of making them myself, but I’ve become addicted to the tasty, flaky, buttery goodness that is the medialuna.
- water - 3/4 cup (200 ml)
- fresh yeast - 30 g
- flour - 4 cups, loosely packed (500 g)
- salt - 1 tsp. (5 g)
- sugar - 1/4 cup (50 g)
- egg - 1
- margarine - 14 Tbsp. (200 g)
- Sugar-Rum Glaze
- sugar - 1/2 cup (100 g)
- water - 1/2 cup (120 mL)
- rum - 1 Tbsp. (15 mL)
1. Mix together the water and yeast. Cover, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and sugar together. Form a ring with the dry ingredients, and pour the yeast in the middle. Add the egg. Incorporate all the ingredients together, first mixing with a spoon and then kneading with your hands. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Slice the margarine and place on a floured surface. Mash the slices of margarine together to form a flat square. Set aside.
3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough until a thickness of 1 cm. Place the square of butter on top of the dough. The butter should be in the center, with a border of dough around it. Fold the edges of dough so that the butter is still visible. This should form a square. Then fold the square in half to make a rectangle. Finally, fold the rectangle in half to make a smaller square. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (See my pictures above for help. Mine doesn't look perfect, but it still turns out great!)
4. Carefully roll out the dough until a thickness of 1 cm. Then, just as in step 3, fold the edges of dough to form a square. Then fold the square in half to make a rectangle. Finally, fold the rectangle in half to make a smaller square. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
5. Again, roll out the dough until a thickness of 1 cm (in a rectangular shape). With a sharp knife, cut the edges to form a rectangle. Then cut the rectangle horizontally in half. You should now have two rectangular strips. Cut congruent equilateral triangles across the strips. Pull apart and set aside. (You can wrap and freeze or refrigerate the triangles for later use.)
6. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Gently pull the corners of the triangles to form a tall triangle. (Tip: they are easier to manipulate when they are close to room temperature.) Then roll the dough to form a medialuna. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. [If you are not making the sugar-rum glaze, lightly brush a beaten egg on top of the medialunas.]
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Sugar-Rum Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and rum. Heat until it the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid becomes a bit thicker (though it will still be quite watery). Take off the burner and set aside to cool a little. Once the medialunas are baked, brush on several coats of the glaze. Serve immediately. Enjoy!