Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kouign Amann (aka Those French Pastries)

A few weeks ago, someone brought pastries to the office. I wandered through and grabbed one that I thought looked interesting. When I ate it, my little brain exploded. It was flaky, buttery, sweet, crispy, caramely, and knew immediately that I must learn to make it. 

One problem. I had no idea what the heck it was. 

And no one else in the office knew (especially since I had eaten it and had to describe it to folks instead of showing them). 

I was distraught. How on earth could I make it, if I couldn't even figure out what it was called??

I proceeded to forget about it in the front half of my brain, and go on with my existence. But it was still there. In the depths of my subconscious. That yearning desire. 

And then - miracle! While Mr. S and I were moseying around the Eat Real festival, there it was!! Stacks of them!! But I still had no idea what it was. 

There was a sign that said Kouign Amann and listed flavors. 

I felt like an idiot. I still had no idea how on earth what to call them. So I asked. The kind lady behind the table said they are called koo-WEEN a-mon. I made her repeat it. Several times. 

Then came home and googled the heck out of them. 

Trust me. They are worth the effort.  

And, since no one can pronounce their actual name, henceforth they shall be known an "Those French Pastries."

Start with the dough. Weigh your flour. Trust me, it's pastry. Weigh it.

Then toss it, the salt (that you weighed), and butter in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. 

Next, mix the yeast in the warm water and let sit for a minute.

Pour the yeast water into the flour and turn it on low. Let a ball form and then let the ball get tossed around by the dough hook for 10 minutes. 

Grab the dough and form it into a ball. Slash the top with a knife to give it a crossed bun look. Grease the bowl, place the dough in, and cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. 

In the 43rd minute, get your butter out of the fridge and slice it into 1/4" thick slices, long-ways.

Sprinkle the surface you're working on with sugar. Take the dough out and roll it out into an 18" x 12" rectangle. Place the butter in the middle. 

Fold the two ends over to meet. Sprinkle the dough with sugar. Roll out the dough (you may need to bang it with the rolling pin a few times to soften the butter). Sugar it. Fold it, sugar it, and roll it out again.

Fold, sugar, and roll at least 5-6 times. If the butter gets too warm, put the dough on a pan and toss it into the freezer for 10 minutes. I had to do this 3-4 times before I got the 6 folds in.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 26"x 18" big. Be sure to cut off a 1/8" around all the edges, so that the layers show. Cut into 12 squares. 

Look at those layers!!

Fold the corners of the squares into the center.

Butter and sugar the muffin tin (if you have a jumbo muffin tin, that would be the best one to use). 

Put your lovely little dough pillows into the sugared tins. Allow to rise for another 20 minutes.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Once browned, immediately turn out, upside-down, onto a cooling rack. 

Serve with panache.

Kouign Amann
Adapted from The Purple Foodie

For the dough:
400 g flour (weigh it)
17 g salt
15 g butter (~1 tbsp)
1 pouch active dry yeast (15 g)
1 c. warm water

For the layering:
3 sticks of butter
200 g sugar

Combine the water, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small bowl, mix the yeast and water. Allow to stand for 1 minute. Mix into the flour. Using the dough hook, beat on low until a ball forms. Then beat for 10 minutes to knead the dough. 

Ball the dough up. Grease the bowl and slash the top of the dough in a cross shape. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with cling wrap. Sit in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes. 

In the last few minutes of rising time, take the butter for layering out of the fridge. Slice it into 1/4" thick slices.

Sprinkle sugar on your rolling surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Place the butter in the middle of the rectangle and fold the two ends over. Dust with sugar. Roll the dough out again, sandwiching the butter in between the dough. Fold the dough over like a book, sugar it, and roll out again. Continue folding, sugaring and rolling for at least 6 folds. The more the better, really. You want to use up all the sugar.

If the dough gets too warm and starts to tear, don't panic. It's totally ok. Just throw it on a pan and toss it in the freezer for 10 minutes. You may have to freezer it a few times during the fold/sugar/roll process.

Once you've got as many folds as you can handle in, roll it out into a large rectangle, about 18" x 26". Cut off a 1/8" on all the sides to expose the flaky layers. Cut it into 12 squares. Fold the corner of each square to the middle.

Butter and sugar a large-size muffin tin. Regular size will work too (that's what I used first), but they are just thicker and more cupcake-like. A real one is more hockey-puck size. Place the folded squares into the sugared tins. Cover with a towel and allow to rise another 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 340 degrees (start it preheating when you start the dough on it's second rise). Bake until golden brown, at least 25-30 minutes.

Turn out immediately onto a cooling rack. 

Enjoy the oooohs and aaaaaaahs from your adoring fans!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. you have turned into such an artist. Your food always looks beautiful. It must have come from your father, cause it sure as heck did not come from me. My motto has always been; if it tastes's ok if it doesn't look perfect. My hat is off to you!