Monday, December 12, 2011

Kouign Amann a.k.a. Butter Cake

This dessert should be on everyone's bucket list. However, you may have to make it yourself since only a handful of places know how to make it, let alone sell it. Kouign Amann (koo-WEEN a-mon) is a buttery Breton pastry made with a similar technique to croissants. The main differences are: (1) a slightly stiffer dough, (2) the use of salted butter instead of unsalted, (3) sugary layers, and (4) the unique shaping. The end result is a caramelized crust and a delicate buttery cake inside. Perfect sweet-salt, crunchy-chewy balance that I'm determined to master.

I've made the Kouign twice now, first, on Hallo-WEEN (get it?), and again a couple weeks later in Redondo with my insanely talented nephew, Josh. I followed the tourrier.com formula pretty much to a T the first time. Everyone loved it but I wasn't happy with the inside texture. It was more dense than I would have liked and I felt the amount of butter and sugar could be reduced. I was after a lighter, flakier Kouign Amann. Normally when you're testing recipes, you want to make slight variations until you get the formula just right. I threw that method out the window for my second batch and changed it up completely. Some things improved, some didn't. I was holding off on posting this until I perfected the recipe but with all the buzz right now about Kouign Amann, I didn't want to miss the boat completely. I will make it a third time very soon to test out my recipe hypothesis. For now, enjoy the pictures and let the suspense build.




Batch #1 - 10/31/2011
Ingredients:


Preferment (makes double the amount needed for this recipe):
5.3 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz water
pinch of instant yeast


Final Dough (yields 24 pastries):
1 lb 11.3 oz bread flour
13.75 oz water
2.25 oz sugar
.8 oz kosher salt
.5 oz instant yeast
1.4 oz milk powder
2.75 oz unsalted butter
4.1 oz prefermented dough
1 lbs 10.4 oz salted butter, for laminating
1 lb 5.1 oz sugar, for laminating
4 oz salted butter, for muffin pan
4 oz sugar, for muffin pan


Preparation:


The preferment and method won't change, it's just the final dough ingredients that I'm tweaking. For the preferment, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Allow to ferment 2 hours at room temperature and then refrigerate at least 3 hours or until needed (up to 18 hours).




Skipping the mixing and fermentation of the final dough and going straight to the lamination. The same technique for laminating croissants is used, however the butter block will be thicker and the second and third folds have the addition of sugar. It is important to use butter that is cold but pliable so place the butter on your counter, and pound it with a rolling pin.




Once it's soft enough you can stick your finger into it, fold it up into a 8" x 13" parchment rectangle. Use your rolling pin to spread it out into a thin layer of cold butter. Avoids a lot of mess! 




Nearly perfect 8" x 13" sheet of cold, pliable butter.




The first single fold in which you lock in the butter should be done normal as for croissant. Roll the dough out to a 13" x 16" rectangle and place the cold 8" x 13" sheet of butter in the center. Fold the dough so the sides meet in the center of the butter.  Allow the dough to rest 30 minutes in the refrigerator before continuing to the double fold.




Measure out a third of the sugar (about 7 oz) and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to a 32" x 8" rectangle. Apply sugar over the entire surface of the dough. For the double fold, fold up from the bottom 2 inches and then fold the top down to meet the bottom. Fold it in half for the book fold before placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes to relax.





The third fold is a single fold. Roll the dough to 32" x 8" apply 7 oz of sugar for lamination over the dough and fold the dough in thirds, like a letter. You now have 25 layers. Again, reserve the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. NOTE: Allowing the dough to relax longer than 30 minutes or in the refrigerator may cause the sugar to become liquid, which renders the project very difficult.


While the dough is resting, prepare your muffin pans, brushed with salted butter and coated with sugar.




To divide, roll the dough to 24" x 16 ", cut 4" x 4" squares and fold the four corners of the squares in towards the center of the square. Next, deposit into the prepared pan to proof. Unlike croissants, these pastries do not get egg-washed.




Let the Kouign Amann proof at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until dark brown color. Remove from pans immediately and let cool on a wire rack.




For Halloween, I served the Kouign with a pumpkin mousse and fresh berries.



Batch #2 - 11/9/2011


Ingredients:

Preferment (makes double the amount needed for this recipe):
5.3 oz all-purpose flour
3.5 oz water
pinch of instant yeast

Final Dough (yields 24 pastries):
1 lb 4 oz bread flour
7.3 oz pastry flour
14 oz milk
2.25 oz sugar
.8 oz kosher salt
.5 oz instant yeast
2.75 oz unsalted butter
5 oz prefermented dough
1 lb 8 oz salted butter, for laminating
8 oz sugar, for laminating
4 oz salted butter, for muffin pan
4 oz sugar, for muffin pan


Preparation:


Again, the preparation did not change with this second attempt, only the raw materials. Notes below:
  1. The addition of pastry flour made the dough much easier to work with. I would like to try making it using only AP next time. 
  2. Using real milk vs powdered took away some of the nice caramel taste and may have also impacted the fermentation. I will definitely use water + powdered milk for my third batch.
  3. Cutting the sugar in half was a bit too much. The outer crust turned out nicely but the pastries could have been sweeter.  
  4. The larger muffin pans worked nicely, allowing the pastries to puff more and the layers to stay more defined. The end result was a flatter puck shaped pastry, rather that a dense little cupcake shape. 



My mom made great use of the dough that didn't fit into the muffin tins. These slightly less sweet Kouign made the perfect pastry crust for her cheesecake.

3 comments:

  1. you have way more folds in yours!

    http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/11/chef_dominique_ansel_makes_his_signature_kouign_amann.php

    ReplyDelete