Kouign-amann

Kouign-amann, sometimes referred to as a Breton Cake in deference to it’s origins, Brittany, is one of the most delightful pastries I have ever come across – caramel crusted bread, laminated with pockets of buttery sweetness – who could resist? I think the best way to describe kouign-amann is as a cross between a croissant and a palmier. The process for making kouign-amann is similar to the steps used in making croissants, but much simpler, and the dough is much easier to work with. In fact, the base dough for kouign-amann is essentially a French bread dough, which is about as simple as it gets when baking bread. The flavor profile for kouign-amann is very similar to that of a palmier. Butter and sugar are folded into the bread dough to form a beautiful series of laminated layers. Butter and sugar are also added to the outside of the bread to caramelizes as it bakes. Decadent.

Because I am always in need of a new challenge, I used my wild yeast leaven in this latest variation of this recipe. I’ve also been playing with ways to make the dough lamination process easier, and working on the outward appearance of my kouign-amann. In this rendition, I’ve used a pasta machine to roll out the layers. I’m not sure if it has done much for the appearance, but it has helped with obtaining better layers.

Recipe makes 8 large buns.

Ingredients:

Leaven –

  • 1 tbsp Starter
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp Honey

Bread Dough –

  • Leaven
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 1/2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Salt

Kouign-amann –

  • 1 cup (8 oz or 2 sticks) Butter (cold)
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 – 1 cup Sugar

Directions:

Day 1 –

  1. Combine ingredients for the leaven.
  2. Let it rise overnight.

Day 2 –

  1. Combine together the leaven, water, and honey.
  2. Add in the four and salt.
  3. Knead the dough until it’s stretchy and bounces back when poked.
  4. Cover the dough, and set it aside to rise for several hours, until doubled.
  5. Grease 8 large muffin cups or oven-safe ramekins.
  6. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
  7. Cut the 1 cup of butter into small slices. Keep it cold as you work.
  8. Roll out one of the pieces of dough, or as I did, run the dough through the pasta machine at the thickest setting. If your using a pasta machine, run the dough through two more times, decreasing the thickness as you go.
  9. Lay out the dough, and place the slices of butter (~ 2 tbsp worth for each kouign-amann) along one half of the dough, if using a pasta machine. If not, use the classic technique for laminating, and book folding your dough.
  10. Sprinkle sugar over the butter.
  11. Fold the dough over, sandwiching in the butter and sugar.
  12. Run the dough through, at it’s thickest setting. Use plenty of flour to prevent sticking.
  13. Book fold the dough, and run it through again.
  14. Book fold the dough into a square, and handkerchief it into one of the muffin cups.
  15. Repeat this process for the remaining piece of dough. This takes practice, but the dough is fairly forgiving, and it helps if you keep the ingredients as cold as possible.
  16. Cover the kouign-amann with loose plastic wrap, and store them in the refrigerator overnight. They will rise slowly that way without running the risk of melting the butter before it hits the oven.

Day 3 –

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (~163 C).
  2. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter.
  3. Brush the tops of the kouign-amann with the melted butter.
  4. Sprinkle sugar over the melted butter.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

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