“The only thing better than butter is more butter.”
One of the first cookbooks I bought was the Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum . On the cover is this uber gorgeous picture of a pastry in all its flaky golden glory. It was a kouign amaan , I learnt . I saw the same pastry on the British Bake Off technical challenge where the contestants had to replicate Paul Hollywood’s version. It piqued my interest and the last weekend , I finally mustered up the courage to try it.
Kouign amaan, pronounced “kween amahn” is a flaky buttery , caramelised sugar French pastry from Brittany. Kouign means cake and amaan means butter in Breton. It is made by layering a yeast based dough with a block of butter. It is rolled and folded , rested and the process repeated thrice . Finally , sugar is sprinkled on and the laminated dough is shaped and baked.
Let me tell you. This is not the easiest recipe to put together. Its not really difficult , but lets just say it expects a level of commitment from you and a few hours of your day! But if you stick with it , you’ ll be rewarded with a lovely buttery sweet pastry thats crunchy on the outside and has soft layers on the inside. It’s like a croissant and puff pastry rolled into one , but more buttery and delicious !
It is Paul Hollywood’s recipe I used in the end. To keep things more interesting , I flavoured my butter with orange and honey, but you can stick with regular butter. But use the best butter you can – its all about the butter!
These pastries were unlike anything I had tasted before… They were amazing! The caramelisation gives it a sticky crackly shell and the inside is soft and flaky. So flaky . And the pockets between the flakes are moist with the sugar syrup. This pastry remains true to its name… it definitely is all about the butter!!
To make the flavoured butter, beat the softened butter well and add the honey and orange zest . Beat until well combined . Taste and adjust sweetness according to your taste. Spread this on parchment or foil to a square about 7 x 7 inch . Chill for a couple of hours.
To make the dough , first activate the yeast by mixing the yeast with the warm water and sugar . It should turn frothy in few minutes.
Whisk the flour and salt together. To this add the yeast mixture and melted butter.
Using a mixer or your hands , bring together to form a dough and knead for few minutes until smooth.
In a lightly oiled bowl, let this dough rest in a warm place for an hour or until doubled.
Beat the air out of the dough and roll into a square about 9 x 9 inch on a floured surface. Place the butter block so that the corners of the butter block are centred on the sides of the dough. Fold the sides over the centre , like an envelope.
Roll this into a rectangle about 12 x 6 inches or so . Fold the lower third onto the middle third and the upper third over the middle third (like a letter). Wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Repeat this process twice (three times total) , chilling 30 minutes after each time.
Again roll the dough to a rectangle about 12 x 6 inches , sprinkle most of the sugar on top . Again fold the lower third onto the middle third and the upper third onto the middle third.
Roll this into a rectangle about 14 x 8 inches or so , sprinkle some sugar and divide into twelve equal parts
Bring together the corners of each square of dough, so that they meet in the middle like a clover. Place in the cavity of a muffin tin. Repeat with all squares , sprinkle with sugar and rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 220 C/ 425 F .
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. If you think its browning too fast , just cover with aluminium foil.
Cool for two-three minutes and remove the pastries from the muffin tin, or they ll stick.
These are best eaten warm !
Step by step Tutorial:
To make the dough:
The first fold:
The final fold and shaping:
To reheat these , microwave for 20-30 seconds or heat in the oven at 180 C/ 350 F for 3-5 minutes
Work fast with the dough so that the butter doesn't melt. You want it as cold as possible throughout.
If the butter starts getting visible while rolling , just dust a little flour.
If your not using flavoured butter , just roll cold butter between two sheets of parchment paper to a square of 7 x 7 inches and proceed with the rest of the recipe.