Last night while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I happened on a post from Chow.com entitled, Kouign Amann, Your New Favorite Pastry. The teaser read: "The hottest pastry in America right now is one you probably can't find, much less pronounce." The article spotlighted the Starter Bakery in Oakland, California that's now making Kouign Amann to rave reviews. Aside from the word "pastry", the bait was the key word "can't" which I took without a second thought. Ask anyone in my family, and they will testify that from the time I was old enough to be told what I couldn't or shouldn't do ( probably as soon as I learned to walk), I set out to very deliberately prove that I most certainly could and would. Needless to say, this stubborn streak persisted through a rather, "I can and you can't stop me" adolescence (sorry, Mom) and has now become what some in my immediate family might describe as, "Mom doing Mom". And, while I have failed many times at whatever it was I may have been attempting to do, I still keep trucking - because I can, and because I love a challenge almost as much as I love butter and caramelized sugar, both of which Kouign Amann has in abundance.
So, I ventured into the cloud to find a recipe, and my first hit was David Lebovitz's recipe. A published pastry chef now living, eating and cooking in Paris, I have followed David's blog for several years and regularly drool and laugh (simultaneously), over his posts. I found a few other recipes on-line, but his have never steered me wrong. Below is his unadapted recipe -- because I wouldn't dare mess with it. But I can try to recreate it, and thanks to his great instruction, I did (except I think I my oven may run a little hot and I could have cut the cooking time down by 3 minutes). Merci Mr. Lebovitz , you're the pastry mang par excellence!
David Lebovitz's post about a trip to Brittany.
The Basics: Yeast, flour and butter make the dough
Roll out the dough: Add butter, fold in thirds, then fold again - mmm...a buttery packet of goodness
Cover a dinner plate with plastic wrap and chill for one hour (go for a run while you wait)
Remove from refrigerator, sprinkle with sugar and roll/pat out to fit pan
Kouign Amann (Recipe Courtesy of David Lebovitz)
(About 8-10 Servings)
1 Tbsp. dried yeast (not instant)
3/4 cup tepid water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sea saltx
1 cup sugar (which will be divided later)
(Plus additional sugar for rolling out the pastry)
1 stick salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
2-3 Tbsp. additional salted butter, melted
- In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water with a pinch of sugar. Stir briefly, then let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Gradually stir in the flour and salt. The dough should be soft, but not too sticky. Lightly dust your countertop with flour and transfer the dough onto it.
- Knead the dough with your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, knead in just enough flour, one tablespoon at a time, until it doesn't stick to your hands.
- Brush a medium bowl with melted butter, put the dough ball into the bowl. Cover, and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, line a dinner plate with plastic wrap and set aside.
- On a lightly floured countertop, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12" x 18" with the shorter sides to your left and right.
- The dough may be sticky and difficult to handle. Use a metal pastry scraper to coax the dough into shape, and a minimal sprinkling of flour, as necessary.
- Distribute the butter in the center of the dough and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Grab the left side of the dough, lift and fold it over the center, then do the same with the right side (as you would a letter). you should have what resembles a 3-level pastry.
- Sprinkle the entire length of the dough with 1/4 cup sugar and (without rolling), fold again into thirds as before.
- Place on plastic wrap-covered dinner plate and chill for 1 hour.
- Next, clean excess flour for the countertop and dust with a liberal handful of sugar for rolling out the pastry again.
- Once chilled, remove dough from the refrigerator.
- Ease it away from the plastic onto the sugar-covered countertop, using plenty of sugar.
- Top the dough with 1/4 cup sugar, press it in a bit with your hands, and roll into a rectangle for the last time.
- Again fold it into thirds and let rest in the refrigerator for another 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 F. and brush a 9-inch non-stick cake pan with melted butter.
- Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll into a circle about the size of the baking pan. It will be sticky; dusting the top with a sprinkle of sugar will help.
- Once rolled out, lift the dough and coax it into the pan. If it starts to break, fold in half and slide a metal bench scrape or spatula under it and slip it into the pan. If it does break, gently piece it back together.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4-cup of sugar and drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is deeply caramelized. Let stand a few minutes, then run a spatula around the edges to release the Kouign Amann and slide the cake from the pan onto a cooling rack.