Kouign Amann Recipe
[Note: This recipe was first published on this site in 2005, when few people had heard of this pastry. I’ve reworked it substantially to make individual pastries (shown above), and that recipe is in my book, L’appart.]
Is there anything more fabulous than something created through the wonder and miracle of caramelization?
Are there no means and ends that one won’t go to, to experience that sigh with relief when one triumphantly pulls this perfectly caramelized melange of butter, sugar, and salt out of their oven? I think not.
Those butter-loving Bretons invented this unique gâteau for delivering the maximum dose of caramel: an all-encompassing dessert, which does double-duty at tea time. And I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how to make a perfect Kouign Amann, one of my favorite caramelized things in the world. And here are my results.
I searched long-and-wide for Kouign Amann recipes, which are rare…either they’re really sketchy, assuming that no one will actually dare to make it, or they didn’t work at all and I was left with a wet, buttery mess.
This week, I pulled disk-after-caramelized-disk out of my oven in an obsessive attempt to master this dessert that I love so much. This was also much to the delight of friends and neighbors, who never thought they could get enough Kouign Amann. After all my tinkering, by now they have.
I also learned why it was so hard to find a good Kouign Amann, it’s a bit of a challenge. So if you’d like to make a Kouign Amann, here are a few tips I learned that will help you out before you get going…
- Use the best salted butter you can find. I use Breton salted butter, which is easy to find in France. But use whichever good salted butter you can find and flick few grains of coarse crunchy salt before folding the dough in layers and across the top before baking. It’s a pretty good approximation of the real thing.(There is actually only one stick of butter in the recipe, 1 tablespoon per serving, so the resulting cake seems more buttery than it actually is.)
- This is a very sticky dough. You should have a metal bench or pastry scraper or a metal spatula handy to help with turning, as well as to keep the dough from sticking to the countertop.
- Work fast. Letting the dough sit on the counter and warm up is not a good idea. Roll quickly.
- Although I recommend waiting about 1 hour between rolling out the pastry layers, you can wait several hours (or overnight) for example, if you have a bit of extra time.
- It is strictly forbidden to think about diets while you’re making a Kouign Amann.
Kouign Amann Links
Since this is an unusual recipe, readers may appreciate a few links and photos from people who’ve made it successfully:
Kouign Amann (Flickr stream)
Another Kouign Amann, made using American ingredients.
Served with Love makes this Kouign Amann.
French Letters shows-off a buttery example as well.