easy kouign amann
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Kouign amann, a landmark Brittany pastry, is something out of a dieter’s worst nightmare: buttery pastry stuffed with sugar and butter. It’s a buttered croissant. It’s ice cream with icing on top. It’s sugar sprinkled jam. Chilies seasoned with hot paprika. Refried chips or lasagne layered with mash.
But truth be told– though rarely as I have them – I sometimes spread butter on my croissants. None of the other instances are applicable, but I also adore kouign amann, the butter spread with butter.
Making proper job is as intricate and troublesome as making proper Danish pastry: folding and folding, layering butter (and sugar too), fighting a lost battle between foldable pastry and the requisite chilled dough. And even though I’m always up for a challenge, this cuts corners.
First of all, it’s the cheat’s Danish pastry: delicious but cut short of the cold butter rolling elements. It’s a bit like rough puff – the name that always makes me giggle – with the yeast added in. Secondly, it’s a cheat’s (and less lavish) way of buttering the pastries; this involves just spreading soft butter over dough as you manipulate it. It’s admittedly not quite as meltingly rich or flaky as the genuine article, but it gives you a taster enough to want to a/ visit Brittany at the first occasion, and b/ try your hand at the Real Thing.
Great for breakfast.
easy kouign amannServings: 12 pastriesTime: over 3 days
- 1 quantity easy Danish pastry, chilled and before the folding stage
- 150g sugar
- 50g salted butter, very soft
When you’re ready for the folding stage, roll the dough out on a well-floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, to a rectangle of about 20 x 40cm. Have a bowl with sugar ready by your side and sprinkle the dough with about a tablespoon at a time at each folding.
With the short side facing you, fold the dough in thirds like a letter, bringing the top third of the dough down, then folding the bottom third up. If it sticks, throw some more flour at it and use a dough scraper to detach it. Rotate the dough 90 degrees. Repeat the rolling, sprinkling with sugar and folding process, then rotate the dough once more and roll and fold again. As you work, dust the work surface, your hands and the rolling pin with flour as necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Repeat the entire three-times-rolling, sugar sprinkling and folding process again – the dough should start to become smoother. If it’s still sticky, chill it for a bit longer and fold once more. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
When you’re ready to make the pastries, butter each hole in a 12-hole large muffin tin.
Roll the chilled dough out to a rectangle 30 x 20cm (12 x 9 inch). Trim the edges and spread most of the soft butter over the dough; sprinkle liberally with sugar. Now cut the dough into twelve 8 x 8cm (3in) squares using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter.
Sprinkle more sugar over the squares and fold all the corners of each square into the middle. Brush each pastry with more butter over the folds and place them in the muffin tin. Wrap the tin in cling film or a plastic bag and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Unwrap the tin and sprinkle any remaining sugar over each pastry. Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are deep golden brown and caramelised.
Remove the tin from the oven and cool on a rack a little, then scoop the pastries out with a spoon. Serve them warm or cold; keep the rest in an airtight box for a couple of days or freeze the surplus.