I thought I was done baking for the holidays, but Liz's cookie recipe yesterday turned that thought on its ear . . . man, don't those look amazing? I may have to pull out the cookie sheets again and give them a try.
Every year as the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year triad of holiday fun begins, I start getting no-so-subtle hints from family and friends indicating they're getting antsy for my Butterhorns. I've been making them for holiday dinners and to use as gifts for my neighbors for at least thirty years, and a couple of years ago, Son took up the roll baton and is starting a new baking tradition at his house. Believe it or not, he and I had about fifteen-minute conversation the other night about the science of getting them just right--he's a scientist and he's longing to figure out exactly how I make every batch exactly perfect.
The fact is they don't always come out perfect, but after thirty years, I've pretty much mastered the art of these delicious croissants.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees--your oven's going to be on for about 4 hours, so it's not a bad time to bake some other cookies while the rolls rise. ;-)
4 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of Crisco (Use Butter Flavor for extra color and taste)
Mix these four ingredients in a large bowl until they're crumbly like a pie crust--I've found that using a pastry blender gives the best consistency.
In a small bowl, lightly beat 3 large or extra-large eggs and then place the bowl in a sink of hot water to warm the eggs. The bowl will float, try not to let any of the water get in the eggs.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk over low heat until it reaches 117 degrees. Remove from heat, verify the temperature of the milk and then whisk in 1 package of rapid-rise dry yeast. Make sure all the yeast dissolves and blends well with the warm milk.
Add the milk and warm eggs to the dry ingredients and mix until well-blended, but don't overmix it. Cover bowl with a towel and put it in a warm place to rise--this takes about 1-2 hours. I usually set it on top of my stove--the preheated oven gives plenty of warmth.
When it's doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it with some flour to until it's no longer too-sticky to work with, but still moist and elastic--maybe 8 or 10 kneads. Form a log and cut the dough into 3 equal pieces.
Roll out each piece into a 10-12-inch circle and cut each circle into 8 equal pieces--like a pizza. Shape each slice into a crescent by starting at the wide end and rolling it loosely before placing on a cookie sheet--make sure the point of the slice is under the roll, so it doesn't unroll while baking.
Cover the pans of formed rolls with lightweight tea towels and place them in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour--until doubled in size. Again the top of the stove makes a great warming spot. Or the dryer if you're doing laundry that day!
When they're risen, bake them in your preheated oven for about 9 minutes--time will vary plus or minus a minute or two, but you're looking for a lightly golden roll (see the picture above). Cool them on a rack and enjoy! They freeze well and so you can make them ahead.
The winner of last week's prize was Molly Daniels. Congratulations, Molly--I sent you an email! We'll be picking 6 winners from all the comments made this week on Saturday night, so be sure to come back each day, get a great recipe, and comment to be entered in the drawing.