The Kouign-Amann has been on my baking list since forever, like since I started making croissants! But I’m not sure why I didn’t get to it till now. Out of curiosity, I have tried it at a bakery and my first impression was that it’s a super sugary croissant in the shape of a muffin or popover.
And a fair warning, this french pastry has been quoted many times from the New York Times as being the “fattiest pastry in all of Europe”. And indeed I would agree. Pretty sure it is fattier than any croissant or cinnamon roll, but also pretty sure it’ll be one of the best, if not the best pastry you’ll ever eat. Let ourselves not divulge into gluttony, save the kouign-amann. It is too good to not consume all at once! However, I would suggest sharing the wealth with your friends. From experience, you’ll win more brownie points than you could imagine.
So what in the world is a kouign-amann? Imagine a combination of a cinnamon roll and a croissant without the cinnamon. Hmm, that’s a bit hard to imagine. Try a flaky pastry, dipped in caramel, dripping sweet! That should do it! Basically, you take a version of the croissant and instead of rolling out layers of dough and butter, the butter is blended with sugar (hence the cinnamon roll concept). It’s rolled out about as many times as a croissant too!
And the shaping couldn’t be simpler. Cutting out squares from the rolled out dough (save the edge pieces to munch on later), and then stuffing them into cupcake tins creates the classic kouign-amann shape. And if you thought that there was already sugar in the dough, surprise! You coat the dough on both sides before shaping (alternatively add it to the cupcake molds beforehand). And to top it all off, I like to add a teaspoon of hazelnut praliné in the center. And you guessed it – hazelnut praliné consists of more sugar! When you bake it, the sugar caramelizes on the bottom. So when you bite into it, you’ve got the sweet caramel, the ooey sugar between flaky layers, and the crunch of the sweet praliné. Yipeee, who’s already on a sugar high reading this?? Hint: I might have consumed one while writing this!
Get out your rolling pins and start baking!
- 1 cup whole hazelnut
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 package dry-active yeast (2-1/4 tsp or 10 g)
- 1/4 cup water, lukewarm
- 3 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 3/4 cup water, cold
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup salted European butter, room temperature (or cultured butter, 82% fat content)
- 2/3 cup white sugar, divided
- Praliné: Begin by blanching the hazelnuts to remove the skins. Bring a quart of water to boil in a pot. Add the hazelnuts and baking soda. Boil for about 3 minutes. Immediately rinse under cold water, preferably submerged in an ice water bath. The skins should be easy to peel.
- Set aside a large piece of parchemnt paper or silicone mat. With a clean pot, melt the sugar. Stir until the sugar holds a caramel color, add the hazelnuts and combine. Use a spatula to help pour out the mixture to your prepared surface. Work quickly to prevent the praliné from hardening to the pot. Once the sugar has cooled, blitz it in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside.
- Dough: Place the yeast over a bowl of the 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Let it sit for a few minutes to foam.
- Meanwhile, combine the sugar, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, butter, and cold water. Knead the dough until a smooth ball forms, a few min. You can knead by hand or stand mixer.
- Place the dough back in the bowl (if not already), cover and let rise to double its size in a warm spot, about 1 hour depending on environment temperature.
- Pounch the dough down, knead into a ball again. Cover and let rise to double.
- On a floured surface, pat the dough down into a 8" x 8" square. Cover and chill in the fridge until fairly firm and cool to touch.
- For the butter, beat the butter with 1/3 cup sugar until well combined. then spread it into a 8" x 8" rectangle on parchment paper. Chill till cool to touch and mildly pliable. It should be fairly stiff but not brittle when bent a little.
- Once the dough and butter have properly chilled, roll out the dough to a 12" x 12" square. Place the butter block in a diamond shape to the square (45 deg offset) and fold in the triangles of the dough to the middle. Seal off the edges as much as possible.
- Anytime, if the dough starts to feel warm, chill it in the fridge for 20 min. And let it thaw at room temperature for a minute before rollling.
- Roll the dough out to a 20" x 10" rectangle on a floured surface. Fold the dough over itself like an envelope. Chill.
- Repeat twice more, rolling it out to a 24" x 8" rectangle and chilling.
- The final time, chill the dough until fairly stiff, 30 min-1 hr. Prepare the cupcake tins - grease them or line them with paper cups.
- Roll out the dough to 16" x 16". Err or the larger side. Trim the edges - you want the pastries to show off those layers!
- Cut out 16 squares from the dough. Dip the dough in the rest of the sugar (1/3 cup) on both sides. Alternatively, add the sugar to the bottom of each cupcake mold, insert the dough and sprinkle more sugar on top. The 4 corners of the dough should be sticking out. Add a teaspoon of praliné to the center of each dough cup, or until full.
- Cover and chill in the fridge overnight, about 8 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Remove unbakd kouign-amann from fridge. Bake for about 25 min, or until pastry becomes gold brown. Cool slightly on a rack. Enjoy while warm!
- Yeast Tips:
- Water for the yeast should feel above room temperature but not hot
- A quick way to rise yeasted dough in the winter is to turn on the oven with the dough for 2-3 min (depending on oven). But don't forget to turn it off - the bowl should be warm to the touch once turning off the oven.
- Chilling Tips:
- I like to use one piece of plastic wrap to cover and tuck under the dough when chilling on a baking sheet. You can also fully wrap the dough and place it directly on a fridge shelf.
- Butter Tips:
- Using european butter is king in laminated pastries. The extra 82% fat content helps create those flaky layers and adds even more depth to that butter flavor! But if you're tight on budget, you can just use regular budget. I promise the taste and texture will be worth a little extra $$
- If you're crushed on time, instead of mixing the sugar in the butter, you can sprinkle it on top of the butter block instead (like a cinnamon roll)
- Think of the first fold to lock in the butter as folding corners of origami paper to the middle or like a fortune teller.
- Reheating Tips:
- This kouign-amann is best eaten warm. The best way to reheat it is with a toaster oven for a couple minutes.
- Alternatively, use a regular oven (not energy efficient) or lightly wrap in foil and set it on top of a toaster for a few minutes on medium.
- Microwave is the least effective.
- Based on Bon-Appetit
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