Kouign Amann

kouign amann

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. 

 kouign amann

kouign amann

Kouign Amann

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 8-10 pieces

Very slightly adapted from David Lebovitz's recipe
  • 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
  1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast and a pinch of sugar with the water and stir to mix.
  2. Put aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the flour and salt together.
  4. Add the flour and salt mixture to the yeast in the bowl and mix to form a soft dough.
  5. Dump out the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 2-3 minutes.
  6. The dough might be sticky and might require the use of a scraper to help you turn it over and knead.
  7. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour until it no longer sticks to your hands.
  8. Make into a ball and put inside a butter greased bowl and cover.
  9. Put aside in a warm place to rise, about an hour.
  10. Meanwhile, line a large plate with plastic wrap and put aside.
  11. On a lightly floured counter top, roll out the dough into a rectangle.
  12. Roll out to 12"x18" with the longer side towards you.
  13. The dough will be sticky and again use your scraper to help shape the dough if needed.
  14. Down the middle of the rolled out dough, place the chilled butter cubes and sprinkle a ¼ cup/50g of the sugar.
  15. Take one side of the dough and fold it over the butter.
  16. Take the other side and fold that over...like a letter.
  17. Sprinkle another ¼ cup/50g sugar down the entire length of the dough.
  18. Fold the dough from the bottom to the middle again
  19. Fold down the top ...again like a letter.
  20. Place the folded dough onto the plastic wrapped plate and place in the fridge to chill, an hour.
  21. Once chilled, remove the dough from the fridge.
  22. On a counter sprinkled liberally with sugar, place the dough to roll out.
  23. 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.
  24. Preheat the oven to 425℉/220℃ and brush a 9"/23 cm pie plate, preferably non stick, with melted butter.
  25. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into a circle to fit the pan.
  26. It will be sticky and will want to break.
  27. Place in the pan and patch up the pieces if necessary.
  28. Sprinkle the top with the last remaining ¼ cup of sugar and pour over 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
  29. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is deeply caramelised.
  30. 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.
David mentions a sticky dough, mine was manageable at all times, in fact I had to add a bit more water but that's usually the case at high altitudes. I used a 9" cast iron skillet, on second thought, maybe not a good choice. It was non stick and the kouign amann came out beautifully, but I feel it got a little too caramelised at the bottom. The cast iron is great at retaining heat so maybe that's why mine browned quite a bit on the bottom but not enough on top. Of course, the best bits were the over caramelised bottom bits. I used a European Style butter: my local grocery store had Challenge European Style. My only concern is that, even though there were layers in the end product, some of them were a little dry. I think maybe a butter paste might work better (I made my croissants with a paste and they were beautifully moist and flaky) or could try smaller chunks to get better butter distribution. Other than that, the bread was very decadent and delicious; buttery and sweet with the perfect salty balance.

kouign amann

kouign amann with tea

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.

  1. I saw the same recipe from David Lebowitz on Pinterest and made it over the weekend. Mine turned out exactly as hers and it was sooooooo delicious! Best thing I ever put in my mouth. Was not difficult – just time consuming but very enjoyable. You must try this!!!

  2. Ever since i saw this on your facebook page, i have wanted to make this! 😀
    This sounds like one of those very high calorie items that can easily clog all my arteries BUT i just don’t care and i am willing to take my chances….hahaha 😛
    cakewhiz recently posted..Molasses crinkle cookiesMy Profile

  3. I’ve heard of this and always wanted to make it. Thank you for the beautiful pictures.

  4. I’m not much of a baker so it’s not all that unusual for me to come upon a recipe that I’ve no knowledge of. But this does sound so very good, Nazneen. I sure would like to give it a try. We’ll see … 🙂
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Sauce in the Style of BolognaMy Profile

    • Thanks John! My suggestion would be to start with cupcakes John! Especially if you don’t bake 🙂

    • Thanks GG and you’re welcome! I think you’d really enjoy it, of course, Brittany is only a hop, skip and a jump for you…you could try the real thing and tell me about it 🙂

  5. This is an example of how cooks long ago created wonderful and delicious things with only a few ingredients or what was on hand, the true origins of most dishes. In my reading, I have just scratched the surface of the fascinating history of how so many dishes were created. Simply out of poverty, necessity and HUNGER!
    One all encompassing example is PASTA with very simple sauces, often made from foraged items.

  6. Nazneen, my friend! I am so glad that you have recreated a hard-to-find recipe!!!! This buttery cake looks like “I want to eat the whole thing”. It’s so my kind of dessert: crusty on the outside and soft on the inside…Next time that we get together, can I have at least a considerable piece of it? Miss you! Wishing you a great weekend!!! (And I am pinning it!!)
    Denise Browning@From Brazil To You recently posted..Coimbra-Style Bread Pudding (Pudim de Pão à Moda de Coimbra)My Profile

    • Thanks Denise! You could try to eat the whole thing…its very hard! I had a little piece and it was so rich that was enough!

  7. I can picture how buttery and delicious this would taste hot out of the skillet. I have not heard of this bread cake but you make it look relatively easy with your easy to read and step by step pictures. Sometimes I like to be challenged by trying to make dishes I have eaten in restaurants in other countries. Traveling always makes me like trying new challenges.
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted..Diakon Salad with Sesame DressingMy Profile

    • Thanks Bobbi! I agree, sometimes when you eat something so good and you want to recreate it at home. I like to challenge myself sometimes but mainly it’s just an inherent need to know everything!