Here is another recipe that has been on my “to bake” list ever since I mastered croissants, the famous sweet, caramelised bread of Brittany, the Kouign Amann. I was told that I simply should try this and that is was even better than croissants. Those were some lofty claims because to me, croissants are IT. I know there are tonnes of other pastries and breads that may be more involved and even tastier but to me the perfect crossiant is pretty elusive, especially in the bakeries here. So many places just don’t know how to get them right. I am not claiming to be some expert in croissant baking, but I do know a bad one!
So, the Kouign Amann has been an interest for a while now. I have never tried one so I wasn’t sure what an authentic one tasted like, but considering it has salted butter, lots of sugar and is baked until all caramelised, I was pretty sure it was going to be good. I also took Davis Lebovitz’s word for it because you know he can’t be wrong.
The name of this Breton cake, Kouign Amann is derived from the Breton word for cake; kouign and butter; amann. Two of my favourite words.
Hearing about the virtues of this cake/bread was easier than finding a recipe for it. There aren’t many around. I decided to go with a trusted source and try out David’s recipe since he lives in France and has actually tried one and recreated it. It’s a pretty straightforward recipe but has the usual tricky bits, just like the croissant recipes, and a long wait. The wait is worth it though.
The end result is a buttery, sugary, caramelised piece of heaven. The best bits are the toffee like, crusty, crispy edges. Inside you have layers of soft, buttery, sweet bread.
Of course, I don’t expect everyone to rush out there and make this, especially since it’s not readily available every where. However, if you like a challenge and you like croissants, then this should be on your “to bake” list.
Serves: 8-10 pieces
- 1 tablespoon/12g active dry yeast, not instant
- ¾ cup/175mL tepid water
- 2 cups/260g plain/all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup/200g sugar plus extra for rolling out
- 1 stick/113g salted butter, cut into ½ inch (2 cm) pieces and chilled
- 2-3 tablespoons additional salted butter, melted
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast and a pinch of sugar with the water and stir to mix.
- Put aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Mix the flour and salt together.
- Add the flour and salt mixture to the yeast in the bowl and mix to form a soft dough.
- Dump out the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 2-3 minutes.
- The dough might be sticky and might require the use of a scraper to help you turn it over and knead.
- If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour until it no longer sticks to your hands.
- Make into a ball and put inside a butter greased bowl and cover.
- Put aside in a warm place to rise, about an hour.
- Meanwhile, line a large plate with plastic wrap and put aside.
- On a lightly floured counter top, roll out the dough into a rectangle.
- Roll out to 12"x18" with the longer side towards you.
- The dough will be sticky and again use your scraper to help shape the dough if needed.
- Down the middle of the rolled out dough, place the chilled butter cubes and sprinkle a ¼ cup/50g of the sugar.
- Take one side of the dough and fold it over the butter.
- Take the other side and fold that over...like a letter.
- Sprinkle another ¼ cup/50g sugar down the entire length of the dough.
- Fold the dough from the bottom to the middle again
- Fold down the top ...again like a letter.
- Place the folded dough onto the plastic wrapped plate and place in the fridge to chill, an hour.
- Once chilled, remove the dough from the fridge.
- On a counter sprinkled liberally with sugar, place the dough to roll out.
- Roll out the dough again, sprinkle ¼ cup of sugar, pressing in it in, and fold into thirds like before and chill again for 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425℉/220℃ and brush a 9"/23 cm pie plate, preferably non stick, with melted butter.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into a circle to fit the pan.
- It will be sticky and will want to break.
- Place in the pan and patch up the pieces if necessary.
- Sprinkle the top with the last remaining ¼ cup of sugar and pour over 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is deeply caramelised.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes and then run a spatula around the edges and slide the bread onto a cooling rack.
Do you like to try and create things that you haven’t tried before, especially if they are time consuming and you really have no idea of how they taste? My thought is that I may or may not ever get to taste an authentic one, but I love to try out challenging and intriguing recipes just so I can get a small glimpse of how they might taste. I haven’t regretted an experiment yet.
Wishing you all a fabulous weekend! Hope you have fun things planned.