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Kouign Amann

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A most amazing pastry based on flour, sugar and a lot of butter. A definite calorie bomb but so good you would not believe.

The only place I ever saw kouign amanns was at Ladurée, a high-end Paris pastry shop. They don't look like much but their taste is so amazing that I always end up buying one. These little cakes are about as wide as a grapefruit but no higher than a walnut. The names means 'butter cakes' in breton.

Kouign amanns are made from a rustic puff pastry many people assume they can't make at home. But it's not very hard and there is something magic in making so amazing a pastry from such humble and shapeless ingredients as flour, sugar and butter. Lots of butter.

In his Larousse des desserts, French pastry guru Pierre Hermé suggests adding jam to make the pastry more interesting. They still look quite simple from a distance but when you look close you see the complex crystallized sugar crust contrasting with the jam pool.

If you have never made your own puff pastry that is the best way to try. It's really easy and not much work after all. The results are well worth it. <>Kouign Amann
225gr white flour
10gr melted butter
1.5dl cold water
5gr yeast (dry or fresh)
pinch of salt
225gr butter
225gr caster sugar + 50gr for the workspace
400gr red berries cooked with 50gr gelifying sugar (optional)

Start by mixing the flour, yeast and salt with the butter and water until you get a smooth dough. It will be quite dry as there are not eggs and almost no butter - yet.

Knead this détrempe for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic foil and leave in the fridge to rise for one hour. Make sure it's well covered so that the dough does not grow a crust by drying out.

The dough will have risen and turned the plastic wrap in a transparent zeppelin:


We will now apply a simple technique to intertwine multiple layers of butter in the dough.

Stretch the dough in a rectangular shape 3 times as long as it is wide using a rolling pin. Wrap the butter in a transparent foil and put in the microwave for about 20 seconds to soften it. Roll the pin over the wrapped butter to turn it into a paste (beurre pommade). You don't want liquid butter so don't overdo it:

Spread the butter mixture over the central third of the dough. Leave about one inch free space on either sides so the butter won't be squeezed out too easily.

Fold the dough over the butter:

Turn by 90° so that the gluten will be stretched in all directions and stretch until it reaches the same size and shape as before:

Fold it again to make more layers of butter:

I let some butter escape - please excuse the messy look on the picture:

Wrap with plastic foil and put in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Sprinkle caster sugar on the working surface as you would flour, and put the dough on the sugar so that it will not stick.

Turn by 90° and roll the dough once more in the usual shape, then sprinkle lots of caster sugar on top.

Turn upside down fold the dough over itself like before. This will create layers of sugar intertwined with the butter layers in the dough:

Turn by 90° and roll the dough one last time, then cut 3 inches (8cm) squares or bigger. Sorry I don't have pictures of this stage, with the hands full of butter it was hard to reach for the camera. Put some more caster sugar on the working space. Lay the squares on the sugar and fold the corners into the center to make a round shape:

In Britany people don't use jams on kouign amann, but I recommend you try at least a couple with some dark or red jam such as blackcurrants or raspberries. Just put a spoonful in the center and fold around it like a bird nest.

Continue until all the dough has been used. Prepare some pastry circles of the same size.

You don't really need to grease the circles as the dough has so much butter it won't stick.

Leave the dough to rise a further 30 minutes (pointage). Heat the oven at 180° Celsius and bake about 25 minutes or until the top is well colored.

Remove from the oven, take out from the circles and leave for a couple minutes. You can east them warm or cold but don't leave them overnight or you'll lose crunchiness and texture contrast.

The regular ones with no jam:

Here are the bigger ones I made with blueberry jam:

The texture is magical, with an incredibly crispy sugar coated crust and a wet, spongy inside. Have a look:

A word of caution. These biscuits are so good and so rich in butter that you need to make a small quantity or have enough guests around, otherwise you are really bound to eat too many and feel a bit heavy. Seriously. If you eat one or two that's all right, but more than that and you are on your own!


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20 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Misty
Hello,I would like to try this recipe, but I don't know what the measurements are. Could you tell me how many cups of flour, butter, water yeast to use. Thank you so much. I'm in California.
  • #2
  • Comment by chris
Sounds really good I need to have a bash at em. we have something similar in scotland   just called a "buttery". It's not sweet though but oh man are they good  
  • #3
  • Answered by fx
Chris, you should definitely try the Kouign Amann, the Bretons are like the Scots in many respects, and they pipe mighty well too.
  • #4
  • Comment by name Rosa
These look absolutely scrumptious, however could you please clarify the water measurement for me. Is it tablespoons?Thankyou you also make the method so easy to follow ....much appreciated.
  • #5
  • Answered by fx
Rosa, 1 dl stands for deciliters, a tenth of a liter. There are 2.5 dl to a cup. For French pastry making you absolutely need to weigh ingredients, everything in grams. Volume is just not as precise for flour and sugar!
  • #6
  • Comment by cheryl
These pastries look wonderful and I will be making them for certain. The pastry looks pretty much like it's puff pastry, is that correct?
Unless I just missed it, how many pastries does this recipe make????
I am guessing that the metal rings keep the pastry in precise shape?
Also, what camera do you use?  I am sure many people have asked that question.  
The quality of your photos are extraordinary.  Do you use any special lighting that make your photos so vibrant?

You have developed quite a community of fans through your love of food and adventure and I count myself as part of that happy clan.  
I thank you for sharing your passion with us.
PS I tried the buckwheat torte but with the addition of rum & simple syrup poached pears and a mascarpone and brown sugar cream between the layers.  
It was great!
 
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Cherly, thanks for your comments! Kouign Amann is a puff pastry made with bread dough, butter and sugar. The yield depends on the size of the metal rings you use - indeed they keep the shape circular, otherwise the whole thing blows over.
I use a Nikon D300 but like to think that the photographer is the one making the nice pictures! I'm glad you liked the buckwheat torta, it definitely can do with a little more fun than just the jam. Thanks!
It's funny, I've read this recipe 2 times this weekend, once in "Baking From My Home to Yours"  by Dorie Greenspan, and just today in the new Francois Payard "Chocolate Epiphany".
And once again on your site. It must be a sign that I should try it out. Your photos are beautiful.
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
Laura, thanks for visiting, this article I did with my one-before-last camera and the pictures have ... improved since then. The recipe is extremely caloricious and will give a nutritionist a heart attack on sight - maybe best to wait until wintertime!
  • #10
  • Comment by Mordechai
Do you know what the word "kouign" means? A very similar pastry is prepared in Jewish cuisine on Purim. It has been called "ears of Aman" for millenia, I suspect.
  • FX's answer→ Mordechai, "kouign" means cake or brioche in Breton. Amann means butter, not a city in the Middle East. It is a false friend.

  • #12
  • Comment by Robert
Bonjour François-Xavier, merci bien pour cette recette et l'explication! Thank you very much for visualizing all steps, truly excellent! Just a few quick questions. First, you're using quite a bit more sugar and butter (100% !) than I've seen in other recipes (percentages vary from 50% to 70% relative to the amount of flour)  Is this how you like it best? Does the high amount of butter and sugar improve the texture?
BTW, do you use a strong (bread) flour, or a softer ("cookie/cake") flour? Should the dough be firm and elastic, or soft and crumbly?
Also, I noticed your recipe doesn't say anything about the yeast. Most sweet breads (where the sugar is dissolved in the dough, such as panettone or kugelhopf) require a special high-osmosis yeast. Normal yeast (including instant dry yeast) doesn't like this much sugar. Is that a problem in this recipe?
Aside, have you ever tried making a kouign amann with sourdough (au levain) ?
Au revoir!  Robert
  • #13
  • Comment by Fran
Qué cosas más ricas...! Tendré que darle calorcito al horno y seguir tus paso a paso. Gracias
  • #14
  • Comment by Judym
Mmmmmm.  these look yummy.  I love to bake; and will try to make them.  Thanks!
  • #15
  • Comment by Candace Bailey
I fell in love with kouign aman in St. Malo, but have not been brave enough to try (although I bake quite a bit). Most recipes say to refrigerate between rollings of dough, but yours doesn't--is that right? Thanks.
  • #16
  • Comment by Erika
I followed this recipe exactly, and the result was just absolutely heavenly. So humble, yet much better than the fancy desserts you get at restaurants these days! How inspiring. FX, I really hope that you return to blogging. In any case, thanks for keeping the site up, as some of my best meals have come from here, and in many ways, from you, so it's really nice to be able to return to them. Thank you!
OMG Julia, now I'm craving a kougin amann and my waistline surely doesn't need it!!I once made kouginettes (individual kougin amann) using a recipe from a famous french pastry chef (recipe on my blog): the process is a little bit different as the dough is first folded with the butter alone(2 turns) then whith the sugar (2 turns too). This results in a wonderfully puffed flaky bread oozing with caramel soft inside & crunchy outside.And if you don't fear sugar coma, you might wanna try to serve your kougin with a blackcurrant compote or a scoop of salted butter caramel ice cream.. well, at least next time you'll bake one!!
  • FX's answer→ Kouign Amann Crave a nice hash tag it would be!

  • #19
  • Comment by AlphaOmega
I look forward to trying your recipe … looks sensational!

I wonder if you can tell me about your rolling pin : can you post its dimensions and any information about where to purchase?

Thank you!
  • FX's answer→ Good luck with trying, this rolling pin is now quite common, you can find it on Amazon or Etsy I think


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