There is no doubt that the cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough that you can buy in the market are tasty, but it’s always nice to be able to take the option of a homemade version. Happily, I can say that it is not difficult to bake up a batch of homemade crescent rolls from scratch, even on a busy weeknight. They’re not quite as quick as the premade biscuits, but they are certainly very quick for a yeast bread dinner roll recipe.
The packaged crescent rolls are quite like little croissants, light in texture and buttery. This version, a variation of a Red Star Yeast recipe, has the same look, but has a slightly different feel to the dough. They’re soft and buttery, but have a texture that is more like a fluffy dinner roll than a flaky croissant. They’re easy to split and spread with butter or jam, and are great for soaking up things like cranberry sauce and turkey gravy during Thanksgiving dinner. They will also keep well for a day or two, so you can make them a day in advance and store them in an airtight container, reheating them before serving, the next day.
Shaping the rolls is much easier than you might think. All you need to do is roll out the dough into a big circle so that it resembles an untopped pizza. Then, using a pizza cutter, divide up the dough into 12 pizza slices. Starting with the “crust” edge, roll each slice of pizza towards the center to form the rolls, then curve them slightly when you lay them on the baking sheet. I brush the rolls with melted butter for a little extra buttery flavor, but you could also brush them with a lightly beaten egg for a little shine.
Easy Homemade Crescent Rolls
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup water, warm (100-110F)
1/2 cup milk, warm (100-110F)
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a large bowl if you prefer to mix by hand, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy. Add in bread flour and salt and mix well with a dough hook. Cut the softened butter into three or flour pieces and drop them into the dough, letting the mixer blend them in.
Knead (with a mixer or by hand) for about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press it out into a circle with your hands, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into an even, 10-inch circle.
Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to divide the circle into 12 triangles (just like slicing a pizza).
Starting with the outside edge of one of the triangles, roll the edge towards the center of the “pizza.” Once rolled, curve the roll slightly into a crescent shape and place on a parchement-lined baking sheet. Repeat with all rolls. Cover rolls with a clean dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
Melt additional 1 tbsp butter in a small bowl. Brush tops of rolls with butter butter.
Bake for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 12 rolls.