Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kouign Aman a Celebration in Opposites

My mother GENEVE is named after a region in France. I personally have never had the chance to visit the country but have grown up with a woman who loved good food nearly as much as the French! My phone rang, as it often does. This time the woman on the phone sounded like my mom but with a huge amount of awe and excitement! She had just gone to a bakery in Salt Lake City, Utah that had the most amazing pastries she had tried in a long time. Her great excitement spilled over these most amazing and unusual pastries called Kouign Aman, from a region in France called Brittany. I went to the website for the bake shop called Les Madeleine ( . They touted the Kouign Aman as being a celebration of opposites, salty and sweet, crispy and gooey. NOW they had my attention. I was the one who had just finished a rousing chocolate dipping of salted French camels. Salty and sweet. Adding crunch and gooey sounded too good to be true!

I was excited to find that the preparation was very similar to that of a croissant, without the time it takes to roll into crescents. As I had been at a bakeshop in the Phoenician resort we had made croissants from scratch by the truckload. This sounded like a perfect fit for an upcoming holiday boutique I was involved with. To my joy they came together without much pain at all and I am excited to show you my finished pieces. I will be talking about roll in doughs very much in the future, but just know for now that once again, my mother is right. I am in awe and amazement at these new little pastries!

This recipe -- a tradtional cake from the Brittany region of France -- is brought to us by renowned pastry chef Florian Bellanger, of New York City's Fauchon.

Makes 15
1 3/4 cups room temperature mineral water
1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel (sea salt)
1 pound (4 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons high-fat unsalted butter, chilled, plus more melted butter for tart rings
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon firmly packed fresh yeast
3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling [This I found to be too much sugar...I used about 2/3 cup]Directions
In a small bowl, combine mineral water and salt. Let stand until salt has dissolved. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine flour and the melted butter on low speed. Add water-and-salt mixture, and continue to mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add yeast, and mix for 1 minute more.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, wrap in plastic, and place on a baking sheet. Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, on a Silpat (a French nonstick baking mat) or parchment paper, roll the remaining 1 pound butter into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap in parchment paper, and return to refrigerator until chilled, about 30 minutes. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an 18-inch square. Center the chilled butter rectangle on the dough so that each side of the butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose. Seal the edges by pinching them together. Roll the dough into a 24-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, aligning the edges carefully and brushing off any excess flour. (The object is to ensure that the butter is distributed evenly throughout so that the pastry will puff evenly when baked.) Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes; this completes one turn.
Repeat process once, then repeat process twice, dusting the work surface and the dough with sugar, and using 1 1/2 cups for each turn[AGAIN, I did not use this much sugar...just about 1/3 cup each turn...]. You will now have completed four turns.
Using a pastry brush, brush 15 ring molds (3 1/2 by 3/4 inches) with melted butter. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, and set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator. On a lightly sugared surface, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 15 squares (4 1/4 inches). Fold up the corners of one square toward the center; repeat process. Lightly press to adhere. Turn square over, and gently coat with sugar. Invert, and place in a prepared ring mold. Repeat with remaining squares.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Let rise in a warm place until puffed, 30 to 40 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Immediately remove ring molds, and place on a wire rack until completely cooled.


Stacee said...

Great to see you reference our fabulous Les Madeleines here in SLC! Kouign Amans are wonderful, I'm actually eating one right now. I hope yours brought you as much enjoyment as LM's are bringing me.

Anonymous said...

these came out great! Thanks
would you post a croissant recipe?

clan of the cave hair said...

can us non-professional homemaker types pop these into a large muffin tin to bake? Or do they really need the ring molds?

Chef Tess said...

I could probably do a tutorial Tuesday on the croissant dough. I'll get on that as soon as possible. Lisa, yes you can use large muffin tins. I have also used mini bundt bans and had them turn out fine.

Olivia said...

O.K., I know this is going to sound crazy, but I am NUTS for these pastries. I have been to Les Madeleines in SLC and that place stole my heart (and my girlish figure). But because I have no idea how to pronounce "Kouign Amans," I call them Kuomintang (not very complimentary, given the history of this group, but at least I know how to pronounce it.) I don't think I'll ever be brave enough to make them, but I seriously swoon every time I bite into one at Les Madeleines!

Unknown said...

Pleasantly surprised! These really turned out well... My first attempt with serious pastries- I watched a few French youtube videos on how to make it so I could have a visual- which was very helpful. Very good recipe, tastes very much like Les Madeleines version. Maybe I'll add a bit more salt for more contrast to the sweet, but honestly I think I just need to improve on technique and this recipe will be perfect! Thanks for sharing!!