Kouign Amann

IMG_0646Before I say anything else, I feel that I must caution anyone who is curious about making/working with laminated dough: Making these once will not be enough. You will become obsessed with the insanity that is laminated dough; its various forms, iterations and uses. Frozen puff pastry from a store? Pfft. Buying your croissants from the bakery? Nope, nothing, and I really mean nothing, will compare. Despite all this, I’m still posting this recipe (one of my most intricate, no less) because a) I think it’s worth arguing that making laminated dough is totally possible in a home kitchen. Oh, and b), these things are just. Too. Damn. Good.IMG_0696At this point, I’ve found that you can pretty much learn any pastry/baking technique by doing two things: reading as much as you can (usually on the internet) and trial and error. As far as research goes, obviously you can google anything and plenty of search results will come up, but what I’m talking about is more than just reading different recipes (although you should definitely do that too). It’s about finding material where the author/baker really talks about the technique, troubleshooting, and what tips or tricks they’ve found to be helpful. [Which, ya know, is what I try to do here]IMG_0668Like anyone, I sometimes don’t follow my own advice, and this recipe was a perfect example of my mistake. The first recipe I found was the traditional kind (it’s meant to just be a large round cake, not these mini versions) and even though I read the recipe several times, I didn’t bother to look up other posts, despite the fact that I knew I wasn’t familiar with laminated doughs. Sure enough, the thing came out a gooey mess (granted, there are worse things in life than a melted pan of butter, caramelized sugar and dough) and looked nothing like the pictures. Being the stubborn person that I am, I refused to admit defeat, so I logged the recipe in my journal and went at it again. IMG_0788This time, however, I did my homework, going through all of the cookbooks and magazines I owned, where I found a far better recipe. Not just because it went into great detail explaining the steps, but because there was a video of the entire process. I all but physically smacked myself on the head, realizing that I had failed to think of turning to Youtube. [I know I’m technically a millennial, but I’m pretty old-fashioned that way] Sure enough, after watching a few more clips, I re-read the recipe and it made so. much. more. sense. I stayed in on a Friday night, followed the recipe to a T (especially the chilling times, more on that later) and lo and behold, I got the kouign amman of my dreams. Since then, I’ve streamlined a couple bits, revised some of the instructions, and added in some of my own. As of now, I haven’t had the chance to document making the base dough, butter block, or rolling out turns, so the photos below only depict the final roll and assembly, but I’m hoping to add those in by April/May.So, with all of that ranting, raving and my belated revelation of the utility of internet videos out of the way, let’s get to the recipe.IMG_0790Above, what the dough looks like after being folded and rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise (or in other words, once to the right).IMG_0792For the love of god, SAVE YOUR SCRAPS. I put them all together in a 4″ pie pan and bake it (checking at 15 minutes) and then I never share it with others.IMG_0794As you can see, my final rectangle fell a little short of 12″, so I just reduced the length of cutting by about 1/4″ (so it was around 2 3/4″ instead of 3″) and it turned out just fine.

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Notes:

  • While the original recipe calls for unsalted butter, I have used salted instead and it came out fine. All that matters is that the fat percentage is over 82% – anything less has too much water, which will evaporate and break down in the oven.
  • Aside from freezing the assembled pieces as instructed below (or the entire dough, after all turns have been completed), you can’t really make this dough very far in advance. That said, I have chilled the dough overnight in between turns (aka I fell asleep at 1 am waiting) and just resumed in the morning, and they came out perfectly fine.
  • Unlike freezing pie dough to expedite cooling (in that it can freeze and defrost easily and evenly), you really need to adhere to the freezing time (30 minutes) any longer, and you risk the out parts hardening, which will make for uneven dough. It’s mentioned in the recipe, but bears repeating because trust me, you don’t want that.

Kouign Amann

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Yields 12 regular / 10 regular and 22 minis

Dough
2 tablespoons (30 g) European-style butter (at least 82% fat), melted, slightly cooled, plus more for bowl
1 tablespoon (10 g) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons (40 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 g) kosher salt
3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

Butter Block
12 oz. (340 g) chilled unsalted European-style butter (at least 82% fat), cut into pieces
½ cup (100 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 g) kosher salt

Assembly
All-purpose flour
¾ cup (150 g) sugar, divided
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Make the dough:
  1. Brush a large bowl with butter.
  2. Whisk yeast and ¼ cup very warm water (110°–115°) in another large bowl to dissolve. Let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add sugar, salt, 3 cups flour, 2 Tbsp. butter, and ¾ cup cold water. Mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed, until dough is supple, soft, and slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. If using a stand mixer, attach dough hook and mix on low for about 3-4 minutes
  5. Place dough in prepared bowl and turn to coat with butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, place in a warm, draft-free spot, and let dough rise until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours. (This process of resting and rising is known as proofing.)
  6. Punch down dough and knead lightly a few times inside bowl. Cover again with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until dough is again doubled in size, 45–60 minutes.
  7. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 4×7” square. Wrap in plastic and chill in freezer until dough is very firm but not frozen, 30–35 minutes. (Heads up: You’ll want it to be about as firm as the chilled butter block.)
Butter Block:
  1. Beat butter, sugar, and salt with an electric mixer on low speed just until homogeneous and waxy-looking, about 4-5 minutes. Be sure to pause every minute or so and scrape down the bowl, as it will help homogenize the ingredients.
  2. If, after 4-5 minutes, the butter still is not blending well (i.e. there are large chunks of solid butter), then scrape down the bowl again and beat on medium-low (I set it to 4 on my Kitchenaid) for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Scrape butter mixture onto a large sheet of parchment. Shape into a 12×6” rectangle ¼” thick. I find it helpful to measure out the dimensions on the parchment first, indenting or folding to create a guide.
  4. Neatly wrap up butter, pressing out air. Roll packet gently with a rolling pin to push butter into corners and create an evenly thick rectangle.
    • Note: If you are struggling to spread out the mixture evenly (I have found getting the width to 6″ to be difficult), just fold the parchment paper to the instructed dimensions (this is where that pre-measuring pays off) and seal to ensure that no butter will leak out. Slowly roll your pin over the package to spread the mixture evenly, working from the center outwards.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until firm but pliable, 25–30 minutes.
Assembly:
  1. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 19×7” rectangle (a bit wider and about 50 percent longer than the butter block).
  2. Place butter block on upper two-thirds of dough, leaving a thin border along top and sides.
  3. Fold dough like a letter: Bring lower third of dough (i.e. the part barely touching the butter block) up and over lower half of butter. Then fold exposed upper half of butter and dough over lower half (butter should bend, not break). Press edges of dough to seal, enclosing butter.
  4. Rotate dough package 90° counterclockwise so flap opening is on your right. Roll out dough, dusting with flour as needed, to a 24×8” rectangle about ⅜” thick.
  5. Fold rectangle into thirds like a letter (same as before), bringing lower third up, then upper third down (this completes the first turn).
  6. Dust dough lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and place the dough in the fridge to chill for a minimum of two hours.
    • If you are looking to expedite this process, first chill the dough in the freezer until firm but not frozen, about 30 minutes. [Any longer will cause the outer parts to harden] Transfer to refrigerator; continue to chill until very firm, about 1 hour longer.
    • That said, I have found that even in a cool kitchen, the freezing/chilling technique isn’t quite enough time for the dough to firm up properly.
  7. Place dough on surface so flap opening is on your right. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, let it sit for 2-5 minutes before rolling it out, as dough that is too cold will be very hard to roll out and can possibly tear layers apart.
  8. Once ready, roll out dough, dusting with flour as needed, to a 24×8” rectangle, about ⅜” thick. Fold into thirds (same way as before), rotate 90° counterclockwise so flap opening is on your right, and roll out again to a 24×8” rectangle.
  9. Sprinkle surface of dough with 2 Tbsp. sugar; fold into thirds. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and chill in freezer until firm but not frozen, about 30 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator; continue to chill until very firm, about 1 hour longer.
  10. Place dough on surface so flap opening is on your right. Roll out dough, dusting with flour as needed, to a rectangle slightly larger than 16×12”.
  11. Trim to 16×12”. Cut into 12 squares (you’ll want a 4×3 grid). Brush excess flour from dough and surface.
  12. Lightly coat muffin cups with nonstick spray.
  13. Sprinkle squares with a total of ¼ cup sugar, or 1 teaspoon per square, and press gently to adhere. Turn over and repeat with another ¼ cup/ 12 teaspoons sugar, pressing gently to adhere. Shake off excess.
  14. Lift corners of each square and press into the center. If it comes apart right away, reshape and pinch the center for a couple seconds. Place each in a muffin cup.
  15. Wrap pans with plastic and chill in refrigerator at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours (dough will be puffed with slightly separated layers). I usually try to time it so that I can just place them in the fridge overnight. [Instructions for freezing below]
  16. Preheat oven to 375°. Unwrap pans and evenly sprinkle kouign-amann with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar, or 1/2 teaspoon each.
  17. Bake until pastry is golden brown all over and sugar is deeply caramelized, 25–30 minutes (make sure to bake pastries while dough is still cold).
  18. Immediately remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack; let cool. Most say that you are supposed to wait a full 20 minutes before eating/serving, as that is when the final crisping happens. I have yet to be able to wait that long.

These are obviously best eaten right away, but will last up to three days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. I like to heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds (literally, no more than 10) to replicate the gooey centers.

Freezing Instructions:

  1. To make these in advance (i.e. more than one day ahead), place the assembled KA’s in a muffin tin and chill for in the fridge for one hour.
  2. Once cool, place another layer of plastic wrap on top and move to freezer (still in the tin).
  3. Freeze until solid (I didn’t pay too close attention, but I think I waited for four hours) and then transfer to a plastic freezer bag (don’t forget to write the date on it!) or airtight container.
  4. When ready to use, take KA’s out of the freezer and thaw in the fridge overnight.
  5. The next day, place in muffin tins and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sugar over them as you would normally. I like to let them sit out at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, just to make sure they can rise properly.
  6. Bake at the same temperature (375 F) for 25-30 minutes, being sure to check

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