Kouign Amann at Le Grenier à Pain

Kouign Amann pastry

Today is election day in France, and la République has the choice of re-electing the current President, or ushering in a new one. For people who usually have a lot of opinions, my French friends aren’t all that enthused about either one of the fellows. One is hoping to come into office, promising to represent Changement, and the other came into office five years ago, vowing changement, too. Sound familiar?

The polls opened at 8am and the only change I was feeling was in my pocket, as I roamed the streets looking for a baguette. However instead of the buttery, yeasty aromas wafting forth from my usual arsenal of boulangeries, none were open. It wasn’t because it was election day, it just happened that every one I hit had the shades down and the door shuttered closed for various reasons.

So I went home and a while later, struck out again, this time making a wider circumference than I did earlier in the morning, until I happened upon people walking down the street toting fresh baguettes, so I continued in that direction. Then I hit Le Grenier à Pain, where a small line had formed. So I joined it.

When it was my turn, I asked for a baguette. And a Kouign Amann, a pastry which has become somewhat trendy in Paris over the last year or so. Sometimes you find a good one – nicely caramelized, with bronzed crisp edges – and sometimes they’re underbaked and flabby. I’m not going to tell you which one I prefer, but none are quite as good as those in Brittany, although there are a few in Paris that are very close.

kouign amann

I’ve been doing some research for the next update of my Paris Pastry guidebook, so in the name of “research” I picked one up. And while this election day in France promises to be interesting, the results I’m just as interested in are the votes around here for this particular pastry. But from the looks of things, my change went toward a pretty good cause. And that’s the kind of change I can believe in.


Le Grenier à Pain
91, rue Faubourg Poissonière (9th)
Tél: 1 48 24 50 58
Métro: Poissonière

(Note: There are several branches of Le Grenier à Pain, each under different guidance, so the selection may differ at other bakeries.)


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53 comments

  • May 6, 2012 1:13pm

    Must try this one. Right now, the one at La Pâtisserie des Rêves tops my list!

  • May 6, 2012 3:14pm

    You had me at “caramelized”! Definitely something to check out next time in France, and see if I can even track one down here in Germany…
    And also, why does it seem that most delicious French treats are “never as good as in Brittany”? :)

    • May 6, 2012 3:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      A number of French dishes, including pastries, don’t translate well outside their region. I’m not quite sure why, since many people from the provinces end up in Paris, and if you’re a native of somewhere, it seems to me that you would want to reproduce dishes from your native region. But on the other hand, things often get “translated” for local tastes, so one wouldn’t order (or find) bouillabaise or a real salade Niçoise in Paris. However there is a current penchant for Kouign Amann – which I guess we can give credit to the local bakers for getting right, or close : )

  • May 6, 2012 3:53pm

    I’ve made Kouign Amann’s once. I loved the taste, so it’s on my to-do list for a second try (need to make a few adjustments to my process). I can’t find them locally, so sadly I can’t compare them. Oh well- it won’t stop me from making them and eating them!!

  • May 6, 2012 4:18pm

    Kouings are my very favorite pastry. I was introduced to them by a friend 6 years ago and it changed my life. :)

    If you ever come to Utah, you must go to Les Madeleines in Salt Lake City. I know you know my friend, Romina Rasmussen, so maybe you’ve already been there. I haven’t tried any in France, but I spent time searching them out in NYC and CT, and hers are the very best. Locally, we refer to them as “crack”, for good reason.

  • May 6, 2012 4:52pm

    I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this but it looks amazing. I’m checking out your recipe right now.

    No bakeries open?! That’s shocking. But at least you found a good bakery and pastry to boot.

  • marilyn
    May 6, 2012 4:55pm

    the Kouings at Dominique Ansel in NYC are out of this world fantastic!

  • May 6, 2012 4:56pm

    The best kouign amann I’ve had was in Douarnenez. Until then I couldn’t just understand why it was so revered and why my friends from Brittany would start waxing poetic the moment this pastry was mentioned. Most kouign amann I’ve tried in Paris (and in NYC) were flabby and greasy, with a hard caramelized top, but a soggy, dull center.

    I’ve been meaning to try your recipe for ages, David.

  • Sandy Castro
    May 6, 2012 5:03pm

    Dear David!
    Do you have any serious leads for subletting or any two month rental, please include Spain? Thanks beforehand for one person! Any suggestion is appreciated.

  • Cynna
    May 6, 2012 5:03pm

    Yum! They are so delicious.
    BTW–I used your Lamingtons recipe yesterday, except I made it into one 9″ cake. It was wonderful! Thank you for another great recipe.

  • May 6, 2012 5:03pm

    I love Kouing Aman and was part of the “crack” culture in Utah who regularly had them from Les Madeleines. Now that I don’t live in Utah when I need a fix I just mail order them from Les Madeleines and a nice box arrives on my doorstep but it quickly devoured. The caramelized sugar and buttery deliciousness makes the pastry unforgettable. I suggest that anyone in the US who wants to try them mail order some…you won’t be disappointed that’s for sure. Here is the URL to use (oh, and I’m not associated at all with the bakery…I’m just a huge fan!)http://www.les-madeleines.com/

  • May 6, 2012 5:21pm

    Going to this bakery’s web site, I see it’s for sale! Quelle domage, no? You may have to begin researching a new source for this incredible-looking bakery bauble.

  • May 6, 2012 5:43pm
    David Lebovitz

    Antonia: I took a look and it appears that it’s a ‘cahier’, or notebook from the bakery that’s for sale. Of course, it could be a bad translation but that’s how I read it in English & in French on there.

    Sandra: Check out my post Renting an Apartment in Paris which has advice and some helpful links.

    Jane + Lindsey: Yes, I know Romina and have heard about her wonderful version of this dessert. Folks in the US interested in a taste should certainly check hers out.

    Victoria: Do check out the recipe. It’s one of those pastries that’s more about technique, than a recipe (like macarons) – but worth trying. At the end of the post, I linked to people who made it so others could take a look.

  • May 6, 2012 6:03pm

    I guess I can stick to the things that do ship well from Brittany, named the salted caramel :)

  • Sandy Castro
    May 6, 2012 6:33pm

    Thank you David,actually had read your post but did not save it.I

  • Daniel
    May 6, 2012 6:34pm

    I bought my first Kouign Amann about nine or ten years ago at the Fauchon that used to be located in NYC at Park Avenue and 56th Street. It blew my mind, and I’ve never been able to find another place here that made them that well. I’ll be in Paris next month so I’ll be sure to swing by LGP.

  • May 6, 2012 6:43pm

    Wow this looks tasty! Sweet and crispy with a soft center is the way I like my treats so this one seems like it would instantly satisfy my sweet tooth. I can see why these have become so popular!

  • suedoise
    May 6, 2012 7:12pm

    No boulangeries open in Paris Sunday morning – mon cher David this is not
    even legal.

  • Burgundy Brit
    May 6, 2012 7:23pm

    Now you tell me! I just got back an hour ago from 4 days in Paris!!! I now have the perfect excuse to go back again…….Loved your Paris Pastry App…please could you add a category for your coffee shop recommendations David?

  • sandra
    May 6, 2012 7:26pm

    your photo makes me drool! i read your newsletters/blogs about kouign for so long, that i just HAD to try it–found it in beverly hills at thomas keller’s bouchon bakery. YUM! it IS crack!! :)

  • Dorothy Rackley
    May 6, 2012 8:17pm

    Hi David,

    Looks divine. I am going to be very brave and try your recipe. I have a question about the folding process. The first time your fold the dough you fold it in thrids and then fold in thirds again, so it resembles a square chunk of dough. After chilling the dough, you say to fold it in thirds again.

    My question — do you do this twice so that it looks like a square chunk? Or do you only fold it in thirds once, like a letter?

    Thanks and thanks –

    Dorothy
    Logan, Utah

  • Stephanie
    May 6, 2012 8:18pm

    Is there a subliminal message here??

    “Sometimes you find a good one – nicely caramelized, with bronzed crisp edges”(Sarko reference because he is always tanned and is notoriously edgy in his debates) – “and sometimes they’re underbaked and flabby” (Hollande reference because he has no experience and is doughy).

    I don’t really think this is what you intended, but this is what I gleaned ;)

  • May 6, 2012 8:18pm

    I have never had a decent one in NYC in my experience…
    But then the butter, flour, altitude, water is completely different so no wonder.
    I hope I get to Brittany to taste the real thing.
    For me Larnicol is almost too commercial with all those flavors like ice cream..

  • May 6, 2012 8:33pm

    Dear David,
    On yr very thorough apartment rental post you might want to change that to VRBO
    http://www.vrbo.com
    I stayed last time in a VRBO studio rental in the 11th from Olivier.
    It/he was terrific and reliable ..he had lots of bigger places too
    Carolg

  • May 6, 2012 10:04pm

    We went to Montmartre’s “Le Grenier á Pain” yesterday! We bought a very good croissant and these Kouign Amann were saying “hello” to us so we decided to buy one to eat later. It is soooo delicious! We are going back to Montmarte tomorrow to get a few more.
    We visited Denise Acabo’s shop as well, lovely, lovely lady. The shop was empty so we could have all her attention. Nous nous sommes gatês!
    Thanks David, your blog was the first one I read and now I am blogging for my friends in Brazil. And they love it!
    Monica

  • May 6, 2012 11:34pm

    This is all sorts of perfect: this is literally right next to negatif+. Looks like I won’t just be picking up my pictures…

  • Zoe
    May 6, 2012 11:41pm

    Essayez le Patisserie Kouign Amann si jamais séjourez-vous à Montreal, Quebec.

  • June
    May 7, 2012 1:24am

    Ah, this is one of the many pastries on my to-learn-how-to-make-list. I have drooled over pictures and recipes of these for the past year and still haven’t had the guts to try making them. Of course where I live there is no such thing as a REAL laminated any kind of pastry much less these little jewels so I have no idea how they taste- although I can (drool) imagine. Thank you for sharing the post and pic although you just made it harder for me to stay out of the kitchen tonight and to keep my hands away from butter and flour- I am desperately trying to lose as much weight as possible beofre my daughter;s wedding in 3 weeks! Ack. Still, you rock.

  • Johanna
    May 7, 2012 3:55am

    I vote for crispy!

  • Sarah
    May 7, 2012 4:38am

    Well.. This is clearly going to be a must try… I will have to find a day when I am home with enough time to make them. Your previous post with recipes still printed, yet undirtied by the kitchen.

    You do taunt us so!

  • May 7, 2012 6:44am

    hmm i have never heard of these but they look lovely. good luck with m. hollande!

  • Cathg1g2
    May 7, 2012 7:09am

    I like your sort of change too!
    I am going to hunt one of those babies down, someone must be making them here in Melbourne, ooh, eaten with a nice coffee (easy to find), what an assignment I have set myself!

  • May 7, 2012 9:07am

    I love the idea of following people holding food to try to get to the source.

    It reminds me of Chinese New Year festivals here in Melbourne and looking for where that crispy fried squid tentacles are coming from.

    Or at spanish festivals to find where the best looking paella is being sold.

    There’s such a sense of adventure and scavenger hunting that is so exciting!

    Thanks for the post!

  • May 7, 2012 10:13am
    David Lebovitz

    Carol: I did link to them at the end of the Paris apt post, but used the term FRBO in the main post to talk about for-rent-by-owner sites in general, since there are quite a few. Glad you found a good one!

    And yes, the Laricol kouignettes in the various flavors aren’t my favorite, but their regular one with salted butter/caramel, is pretty close to the ones you get in Brittany.

    Monica: Glad you had fun with her – it’s such a great place : )

  • May 7, 2012 10:55am

    It was election day and – Sunday as well. This is a reason good enough to close all the patisseries… no?:)

  • Keren
    May 7, 2012 1:43pm

    J’adore kouign amann. It is absolutely delicious. Is it odd that my favorite place to get my fix for these orbs of delight is San Francisco? Thanks to b. Patisserie anyway.

    David, I do hope you get to try their pastry the next time you are in the Bay Area – they are truly magnifique!

  • May 7, 2012 5:12pm

    I rather tend to put my vote in the same way as you do… :) nice one David
    I only ever ate the Kouign-Amann when in Bretagne; don’t know why – I’m just not tempted elsewhere. I do however eat ‘les congolais’ everywhere…

  • May 7, 2012 5:55pm

    It’s interesting that in this pastry sugar and a substantial amount of salt give such a satisfying outcome. I always thought too much salt will flatten yeast dough and use it very moderately in sugary pastries.
    I am intrigued though into trying your recipe next time baking.:)

  • derry watkins
    May 7, 2012 6:20pm

    Amazing. I am eating a kougin amann today. I had never heard of it, googled it and there you are blogging about it yesterday !. The glory of the internet for old ladies. My great-niece brought it to me direct from Brittany. Mine a bit elderly by now, but utterly delicious. Will try to make a fresh one soon

  • Susan
    May 7, 2012 7:44pm

    I have been so intrigued by this pastry by your description and love of it, that I’ve searched and copied several recipes (yours included) in hopes of making it one day. I’d never even tasted it at that point. Finally, attending a local farmers mkt, I discovered a little french bakery tucked along the avenue and went inside. They had the mini versions of it so I bought one. It was as I’d read; crisp with caramelized sugar and with each bite it shattered a sprinkling of sugary crust from my lips. I couldn’t help but notice how sweet this is. It surprised me! I thought the French didn’t care for sweet pastry and this was quite sweet. I’m still hoping to make it one day, but think I’d better master making the laminated dough before I attempt it.

  • Cynthia
    May 7, 2012 9:33pm

    If you live in Utah you must try Le Madeleines in Salt Lake City. I agree with the crack comment. They are delish!

  • Lien
    May 7, 2012 11:20pm

    I tried the Kouign Aman from Bouchon in Beverly Hills and it looks different from the one in your picture
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hlclicks/6913355447/
    yours looks more dense and the one from Bouchon more flaky. I wonder if the one at Bouchon is not authentic :-)

    • May 8, 2012 7:40am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve seen so many different variations and versions of this pastry in France (and even in Brittany!) that I’m not sure there even is one that is completely, 100% authentic. I’ve had some that were so loose, they had to be served on a plate. And others were tight and compact. That said, I am certain the folks at Bouchon likely worked hard to create something that was their idea of perfect – and I’m sure it’s quite tasty, too.

  • Mei-I
    May 8, 2012 1:03am

    Whenever I’m in Paris, I always try to take a bagful of pastries from Le Grenier à Pain home with me. J’adore!!

  • Nari
    May 8, 2012 9:09pm

    Oh, David… do not toy with me like that!!! Man, I just LOVE KA. I make your recipe here and there to hold me over until my next KA in France, but it’s hard… What I would give to have a bite (or ten) of that flaky, scrumptious beauty!!! I am actually crying a little inside.

  • May 9, 2012 12:17am

    When I read this post I started thinking about the ballet term “changement” — a step where you basically hop up in the air and have your feet switch places. You can even do a “double changement” and have your feet end up in exactly the same spots as where you started. We’ll have to see what type of “changement” your new president will bring!

  • Steve
    May 9, 2012 4:05am

    Sorry to be so definitive but if Kouign Amann has only become “trendy” in the past year among Parisians then they really are oblivious.

  • Becky
    May 10, 2012 6:26am

    David, this looks so delicious! This pastry is definitely on my learn-to-make list. I’ve been to Paris before, the food there is all so tasty. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and reminiscing on my past trip to Paris. Great blog. Please keep posting plenty of images for me to drool over. Also, I really like the way you link in your blog to other sites etc. It’s quite helpful. Overall, I just wanted to commend you on your blog!

  • Kristine
    May 10, 2012 6:53pm

    Your receipe calls for a 9 inch cake pan. This photo looks like an individual smaller version, or is it just a close up? I would think smaller verisions would get better carmelization on the edges (at least more to enjoy?). Would you recommend using a muffin pan, muffin top pan or maybe small tart pans for individual pastries?

  • Tim Hartzer
    May 11, 2012 1:43am

    On Tuesday, the last day of three weeks in France I took the #7 line to the Poissoniere stop. Le Grenier a Pain was just around the corner, and the Kouign Amann was worth the trip.

  • May 15, 2012 10:30am

    We kept seeing those in Bretagne and Normandie last September (quite a mouthful in Estonian!), and finally devoured one in Dinard (photo evidence here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/naminami/6843018470/ )
    Loved it!!!

  • May 26, 2012 3:31pm

    It’s funny that I’d never heard about these until your article and then a new patisserie opened here in Seattle and they had them. They were very good too. Anything the chef was doing with croissant dough was excellent. Looking forward to your next book David!

  • Bill in Paris
    May 29, 2012 5:47pm

    I recall reading this article a few weeks ago, with a list included of several bakeries in Paris where you can buy Kouign-Aman. Then I went back to this blog to get some addresses and all but one of the patisseries had disappeared. What happened to the other three or four you originally listed or is my memory faulty?