Ok guys. I am so excited to share this recipe with you! As I said I attempted a few ambitious baking projects this past weekend, one of which is today’s recipe Kouign-Amann. Don’t worry I had no idea what a Kouign-Amann was when I first read about them in Mark Greenside’s, I’ll Never Be French No Matter How Hard I Try. (If you’re in the mood for an entertaining memoir I highly recommend reading this one!) But hang with me here, because it is in fact the most a-may-zing breakfast pastry ever. OMG. O M G here people. You will just die when you taste these things.
So first a definition. Wikipedia says this, ” kouign-amann is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with bread dough containing layers of butter and sugar folded in, similar in fashion to puff pastry albeit with fewer layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake (“kouign”) and butter (“amann”). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistère, Brittany, where it originated in around 1860.”
What I say, is that I dislike the word “crusty” especially in reference to amazing pastry so I will re-deffine it for you. Kouign-Amann is like… is like, if a croissant, a morning bun, and some puff pastry walked into a bar. And then went home together. And then 9 months later there was kouign-amann. Ok nix that. That was super weird. Kouign-Aman… is kinda like a cross between a croissant and puff pastry, but with more melty sugarness going on, and shaped kinda like a morning bun?
Ugh. Guys this isn’t working. One last try. It’s all about the butter. Then there are perfect cartelized sugary crunch on the outside and soft croissant like layers on the inside. I would consider Kougin-Amann to be a cousin of both the croissant and puff pastry. They are all undoubtedly French and the method for making the dough is very similar for each. (Spoiler: You use the laminating technique.) BTW If you want to know more what’s what about French pastry you can go read this usefull article. Ok, even if I can’t give you a perfect deffiniton, just trust me and make these things, again, they are a-may-zing (with a Y and italics even)! So seriously make them. Admittedly they are time consuming but so worth the effort. Plus the work can be broken down onto two days, and you can either bake them on the second day, or save them one more day and bake on the third day. In fact, the overnight refrigeration between days actually entices the flavor of the pastry! Ok. moving on.
The first time I actually tasted this delectable little pastry treat was actually on a press trip to Salt Lake City. I was sent on the trip by The Daily Meal, who I still write for from time to time. While I was there I had the pleasure of ferreting out Eva’s Boulangerie, where I discovered kouign-amann. Honestly, the trip would have been worth it for that gorgeous pastry alone. Most fortunately it turned out to be a a fabulous trip all around. The city is expanding and changing in exciting ways, one of which is a marked improvement in the restaurants, bars, and most importantly: bakeries. Guys I just need to throw this one out there, if you live in Salt Lake you have a serious gem in Eva’s. I highly suggest you eat there everyday. EVERYDAY!
Ok back to the pastry recipe. To make things easier for you, I’ve included some little drawings so you can see what you’re going for. I’ve also made notes about options on how to make the pastry in one day, or over the course of two days, with an option to bake on the third day. I personally recommend starting this recipe on a Thursday so you end up with fresh hot pastry on Sunday morning!
Two last thoughts, use good butter! This pastry is simple enough that you really taste the ingredients. I’d recommend getting a European style butter. Last note, don’t even try to count your calories on this one! This is the definition of indulgence. Enjoy!
Kouign-Amann– Yields 12 pastries.
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water + additional as needed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour + additional for rolling/dusting
- 16 tablespoons high quality European style salted butter (two sticks) + additional to grease muffin tin
- 1 and 1/4 cup sugar
Tools you will need:
- stand mixer
- rolling pin
- parchment paper
- ziplock bag
- saran wrap
- muffin tin
1. In the bowl of a large stand mixer add the yeast and cover with warm water, swirl gently. Allow to stand for 10 minutes until foamy. Add the salt and flour and mix on low (3 on a Kitchen Aide) until a shaggy dough begins to form. Continue to knead on low for 3-4 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and pulls away from the bowl. The dough will be fairly sticky. If the dough is too dry and doesn’t become smooth add an additional tablespoon of water at a time until the dough has smoothed out.
2. Cover the mixing bowl loosely with saran wrap and place in a warm location to rise for a hour, or until doubled in size.
3. Shape the dough into a loose rectangle shape. Transfer the dough to the ziplock bag and release as much air as possible before sealing. Place in the fridge and chill overnight. If you wish to make the Kouign-Amann all in one day chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before counting on with day two’s steps.
1. Just before you are ready to start rolling the dough, you need to prep the butter. Cut each stick of butter in half. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place the butter together to form a rectangle in the center of the parchment paper. Place a second sheet of parchment paper over the top of the butter.
Use your rolling pin to gently pound the butter flat. The goal is to make the butter supple and bendable for rolling out. Place the butter, still on the parchment paper in the fridge while you roll out the dough.
2. Lightly sprinkle the counter with flour and place the dough in the center. Lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Use the rolling pin to roll out a large rectangle about 12X20 inches. The rectangle may be slightly rounded on the edges, this is ok.
3. Place the pounded butter in the center of the rectangle lengthwise. Fold the dough into thirds over the butter. Begin with the right side, then fold the left side up on top of the right.
4. Use your rolling pin to lightly roll and flatten the dough. Again fold the dough into thirds, starting with the bottom and folding the top down on top of the bottom. Then turn the dough 90* so that the side with the folds is facing you.
5. Again roll the dough out flat and fold into thirds. Turn the dough 90* so that the side with the folds is facing you. Fold into thirds one more time. Transfer the folded dough back into the ziplock bag and refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes.
6. You will be repeating steps love and six. Instead of sprinkling flour on the counter sprinkle sugar on the counter before rolling the dough. Place the dough in the sugar. Also, each time the dough has been rolled out flat, you will be sprinkling sugar evenly along the rolled out surface. Use 3/4 a cup the first roll out and 1/2 cup the second roll out. Use the rolling pin to gently roll the sugar into the dough to help it adhere. When you have completed this step the dough will again be rolled into thirds. Transfer back to the ziplock bag and refrigerate the dough for an additional 30 minutes.
7. Use some butter to ease each muffin cup well. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into a long rectangle about 8 wide x 24 inches long. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to make twelve even sized squares.
8. Working with one square at a time fold the corners of the square into the center. All the layers should fold in together. Place the folded square into the muffin cups. You may need to squeeze them in. Cover tightly with saran wrap and refigerate overnight. If you wish to bake the Kouign-Amann the same day, cover loosely with saran wrap but do not refrigerate; continue on to day three’s steps.
1. Place the muffin tin in a warm spot, but not so warm that the butter in the layers melt, and allow to rise until puffy (though not doubled in size), about 40 minutes. If the Kouign-Amann has been refrigerated overnight this may take closer to an hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 400* Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool long enough to touch the pastry. Remove immediately using a butter knife and fingers(or the sugar will set and glue the kouign amann into the pan!). Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling. If you do not end up removing the Kouign-Amann from the pan fast enough or they become difficult to remove because the sugar has begun to harden, return the pan to the hot oven for about a minute to melt/loosen the sugar. Placing the pan in hot water immediately after removing the Kouign-Amann will make it much easier to clean!
Note: Kouign-Amann are best served warm on the day they are made but can be stored in an air tight container for two days before going “stale”. Stale Kouign-Amann makes great french toast!