There are many things I miss from France. Places, lifestyle, friends, smells… but most of all I miss the food.
Even though I can make at home most of the recipes, it usually takes me a few sessions of trial and error before achieving something close to the original.
Last week I had a successful trial with the Merveilleux. Now I’m back to my beloved Kouign Amann.
In case you’re wondering what the hell it is (to be honest, I did it when I heard about it the first time), kouign amann is a regional pastry from Brittany, in north-western France. Together with the kouign amann, the Bretons provide all the best food (and butter!) you could ever, ever ask for. Everything they cook is amazing and I’m a very big fan of their cuisine. This is a must-go place for me next time I visit France, for sure!
However, much to my surprise, it looks like kouign amann is somewhat popular in the US (never saw them here in Canada though) but most of the recipes I found online didn’t turn out to be anywhere like the real deal. I obviously have one from school, but it calls for fresh yeast and, well… that is almost impossible to find here.
Looking here and there, I managed to successfully merge the recipe from David Lebovitz and from 750g. The result was something really, really close to the kouign amann I used to have in a Breton pastry shop close to my friend’s house in Montmartre. So close I couldn’t stop eating. Seriously.
So, to make this croissant-like pastry with lots of butter and caramelized sugar you’ll only need a few but good ingredients.
First thing is butter. Salted butter is a must here. For this recipe I used salted dry butter from a small Canadian cremerie which, apart from the price, is the best butter I can put my hands on without going bankrupt.
If you can find fresh yeast, use it, since I find the final result is more flavorful this way. Otherwise, you can use active dry yeast (but not the instant, it won’t work the same way).
And finally, forget about diet, calories and all that. It is indeed a lot of butter and a lot of sugar. But I swear to you, there are few things in this world that will make you feel like you’re in buttery, caramel heaven, and this is one of them. You have to try it!
- 12 g active dry yeast
- 175 g lukewarm water
- 275 g all-purpose flour
- 7 g salt
- 10 g melted butter
- 225 g sugar
- 225 g salted dry butter, cold (or regular salted butter with the highest fat percentage you can find)
- In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Let sit in the counter for 5-10 minutes or until you get a foamy mixture.
- To this mixture, add the flour, salt and the melted butter. Mix it well in the bowl to incorporate.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface, and knead it well until the dough is smooth. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with the hook attachment for this process.
- Spread a little bit of butter in the bowl to prevent the dough from sticking and move the dough there. Cover with cling film and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until it doubles in size.
- In the meanwhile, make a square of butter between two sheets of parchment paper. It's easier to make it by beating small cubes of butter with a rolling pin until it gets thinner (about 1 cm thick). Trim the sides to make a square of about 10x10 cm. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Once risen, open the dough in a floured surface until you get a square that is bigger than your butter square (about 15-17 cm large).
- Place the butter in the middle of the dough, and close the dough on top of it like an envelope.
- Carefully open the dough with the butter inside until you get a rectangle of about 50x25 cm (I use the rolling pin as a guide).
- Fold the dough in three thirds, one on top of the other and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Now, sprinkle sugar over your working surface and turn the dough with the "open" side (where you can see the folds) facing you.
- Open the dough lenghtwise as a rectangle of the same size again. Sprinkle sugar generously on top and fold again in thirds.
- The dough is ready to use, so now open it to all directions until you get a 0.5 cm thickness all over, making sure the working surface is all coated in sugar.
- Sprinkle sugar over the top again, and roll the dough in the same way you would with a cinnamon bun.
- Cut slices of about 4-5 cm thick and arrange them circularly over a greased 18-20 cm cake pan. Let rise for about 30 minutes more and bake at 185°C for about 40-45 minutes or until caramelized and cooked all over.
- Once baked, wait a couple of minutes and remove it from the pan still hot -- otherwise it will stick to the pan and you won't be able to remove it.