Mar 1, 2015

Kouign Amann

Kouign Amann, a traditional and delicious Breton laminated butter cake


Kouign Amann is a buttery flaky pastry made with a yeasted dough. The process to make the the dough is very similar to making croissant dough, with the big difference being the final shaping and the addition of sugar between the final layers.

Kouign Amann, a traditional and delicious Breton laminated butter cake


The shatteringly crisp layers are so delicious. I immediately ate two about 15 minutes after they emerged from the oven.

Kouign Amann, a traditional and delicious Breton laminated butter cake


Kouign Amann originated in the region of Brittany (Bretagne), on the northwestern corner of France. It was an independent kingdom up until the 16th century, until it became part of France. The name Kouign Amann reflects the original Breton words for butter and cake.

I learned about the Celtic heritage of that particular region of France the first time we visited Dublin. We were in a restaurant and our waiter sounded French, so we asked him if he was from France. His answer, "No, I'm from Brittany." This Breton was very proud of his heritage!

These little pastries take a few hours to make, most of that time being hands off to allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator between turns. If time is an issue, you can make and chill your dough overnight and do your turns in the morning, or you can complete all of the laminating in one day, and then chill your shaped Kouign Amann overnight, to be baked in the morning. This is what I did, and had fresh Kouign Amann for Sunday breakfast.

"Turns" you ask? That is the process of laminating the dough with a thin layer of butter. A butter block is wrapped with the dough, and then the dough is rolled out and folded in thirds four times, creating thin layers of dough separated by thin layers of butter. If I've done my math correctly, there are about 80 layers of butter in this dough. The trick is to keep everything cold, but not so cold that the butter cracks.

Kouign Amann, a traditional and delicious Breton laminated butter cake


Because there is such a manageable amount of dough, this is the perfect recipe to try laminating for the first time. Give it a try! Even if your butter gets lumpy or peeks through, press on. The results are amazing.

Kouign Amann, a traditional and delicious Breton laminated butter cake

Kouign Amann Recipe

Ingredients

300 to 340 grams unbleached all purpose flour
5 g instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
200 ml warm (90 to 95 degrees F) water
25 g unsalted butter, melted
250 g cold unsalted butter (about 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
100 g caster sugar (finely ground sugar, you can do this in a mini food processor)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 300 grams of flour, yeast, salt, water, and melted butter, and hand stir with the dough hook to wet all of the ingredients. 
  2. Knead on low for two minutes. Check the hydration of the dough. It should be tacky but not overly sticky. 300 grams of flour was fine for me. Be careful not to add too much flour. 
  3. Knead on medium for 6 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough out of the mixer, and form it into a ball. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for one hour.
  5. In the meantime, create the butter block. Roll the butter between two pieces of parchment into a 5 1/2 inch square. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 8 inch square. Place the chilled butter block in the middle, on an angle (so the points are in the middle of each "side" of the dough), and fold the corners of the dough over it like an envelope to enclose the butter completely. 
  7. Roll the dough/butter envelope into a 6 inch by 18 inch rectangle. Fold the bottom third of the dough over the middle third of the dough. Fold the top third of the dough over that, as if folding a letter. You should have a square. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  8. Repeat this process two more times, refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes between each turn. 
  9. After the last chilling of the dough, roll it into a 6 inch by 18 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with sugar and then fold it into thirds again. Quickly roll the dough into a 16 by 12 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar, and cut it into 12 squares.
  10. Butter a 12 cavity muffin tin. Gather the squares up by their four corners and place them in the buttered muffin tins. Press the corners together. Sprinkle with more caster sugar. At this point, you can either refrigerate the pastries overnight, or bake them immediately. 
  11. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let sit until slightly puffy, about 30 minutes. If you have refrigerated them, let them sit for about an hour to an hour and a half at room temperature before baking. 
  12. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Tent with foil (check at about the 15 minute mark) if they are getting too brown too early. 
  13. Remove them from the oven and wait just a couple of minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack. Let cool about 10 minutes (if you can!), and then serve.
  14. To save for later, individually wrap each completely cooled Kouign Amann with plastic, and place them in a freezer bag. When you are ready to eat one, defrost it, and then place them in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 minutes. 
Recipe sightly adapted from Notitie van Lien, who chose this recipe for the Bread Baking Babes this month. Check out her site for links to the other Babes' posts of this bread. She slightly adapted this from Paul Hollywood. I am baking along as a Buddy. 

20 comments:

  1. hello Karen, these are absolutely delicious and worth the work to making them, I made mine a while ago because I have ( the baking Bible) from Rose Levy B. and they are so addictive , I am due to making them again , your blog is awesome.

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    1. Thank you so much! I do have that book and will have to try Rose's version!

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  2. Karen, I want to take baking lessons from you... this is such a beautiful concoction, you always do a perfect job, no matter how complex the recipe!

    In awe, as usual...

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    1. Aww Sally, you are too sweet. Do you know how much I'd love to spend some time in the kitchen with you? However, you may not want to see the chaos behind the final results here. Calm, cool, and collected does not describe me =)

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    2. I fear nothing. You have not seen my kitchen after I bake a cake. THAT would shock you.... it is chaos in flour form. ;-)

      yes, calm, cool, and collected - not me at all.... ask poor Phil

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  3. These look amazing, and can only imagine how delicious they must be. Stunningly beautiful, Karen!

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  4. What a fantastic job you did. I love the dark golden colour on them, I think I need to bake some more! Thanks so much for baking with us! Your badge is in the mail.

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  5. These are gorgeous! I am in awe!

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  6. I can make croissants, but when I tried to make kouign amann, I had trouble. The recipes I tried had you roll the sugar in with every fold, and then with the chill time, the sugar turned to water in the layers because sugar draws humidity, which meant my layers would slide when I'd roll to do the next turns. I tried a few times this way, and it didn't work out too well. I need to give your method a try, adding the sugar at the end! That might solve my problems!

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    1. It worked out well. Thanks so much for the chemistry lesson. I did have a bit of water at one point when the dough got too warm. Great info!

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  7. Look at your Kouign Amann, dear Karen. They are fantastic!
    What a present from the Babes to chose such a great recipe.

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  8. You were able to stop after two? very impressive! I wish I could say the same....

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  9. "Shatteringly crisp" That's the perfect way to describe it! And they are delicious, aren't they? Yours look perfectly formed and I particularly like the little peaks of darker caramel on the tops.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I know they were supposed to stay closed, but I like the flowery nature of these.

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  10. Yours are perfection Karen! This really is about the right amount of dough to learn laminating. I hadn't really focused on that but that was part of the beauty in doing this one.
    You know how marvelous a recipe is when people are still begging for more 6 weeks later.

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I love comments and questions and read every one of them.