Kouign Amann Recipe

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

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Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Our recipe for today, Kouign Amann are such beautiful and delightful pastries originating from Brittany, France. The Bretons made these buttery layers of bread dough that is folded together with sugar and results in a cake that is made of a chewy bread interior and caramelized, crisp exterior.

With a unique name that will make you second guess on how to pronounce  (read: Queen Ah-mahn), Kouign Amann are very much comparable to croissants and puff pastries in terms of how they were made. A block of flattened butter is encased inside a thin rectangle dough and the dough is rolled with the butter inside to a rectangle that has the same initial size. A series of rolling and folding is done to achieve those beautiful, buttery layers.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

I totally enjoyed making these pastries. My version of me- time and solitude these days is being up early before everyone is awake, and in the cold, low-lit basement, I roll dough in perfect silence, savoring the peace and quiet in the early morning.

Kouign Amann are the sweeter cousin of croissants, but they are similar in that yeast is in the recipe, therefore producing bread dough in the process.

Like puff pastries, kouign amann boast of crisp exterior layers but their insides are more like a bread or cake consistency. And because sugar is generously sprinkled during the process, they are sweet.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

So imagine: layers of bread one after another; crisp, caramelized, sugary tops and buttery all over. Yes.

Just like a little piece of heaven.

Making Kouign Amann (step by step photos after the recipe)

  • Making the Bread Dough– making kouign amann starts out with the usual process of making yeasted dough. You combine flour, water, salt and yeast to make dough for bread.
  • Making a Block of Butter– the goal here is to make butter as thin as needed so you can roll it away, encased inside a dough. It needs to be cold yet pliable and flexible to be able to withstand the turns and folds later. Conventionally butter is pounded as a whole using a rolling pin, then rolled into the required thickness. The pounding and rolling makes them more pliable without making them warm. Personally, I find it easier to cut the butter into cubes, place it inside a Ziploc bag, and use my fingers to smash them quickly to soften them a bit. Then, you roll it until it reaches all the corners of the bag, therefore producing a rectangle block of butter.
  • Making the Turns for the Dough– turning the dough means the dough is rolled out into a thin rectangle, then folded business letter style. That is called a turn. To make the next turn, simply roll the folded dough again into a thin rectangle and repeat the folding process. In making kouign amann, 4 turns are required.  The third and fourth include sprinkling of sugar over the rectangular dough before doing the business letter fold. The dough is chilled for 30 minutes in the fridge after the first two turns, and then once again after the last two turns.

    Why Chill?– In between the rolling and folding, the dough and the butter tend to become warm and as a result, the butter might melt into the dough. To create beautiful layers in pastries, it is important that the butter is kept cold so that  once the heat of the oven hits the cold butter, the moisture from the butter and dough evaporates into steam, creating puffed layers in the process. The same cannot be achieved if the butter has started to melt before it is inside the oven.

  • Assembly, Rise and Bake– just like making bread, kougn amann need rising period prior to baking. The oven is pre-heated to 400 F and maintained for 15-20 minutes, then once the pastries are inside, the temperature is lowered to 350 F. This recipe makes 12 kouign amann buns.

Now as you might know already, pastries like these- croissants, puff pastries and danish- they are more complex  and their processes are kinda’ lengthy. But I have to tell you, they are not necessarily hard.

To be sure, what you need is time and attention to execute the process well.  As mentioned, this recipe involves chilling and rising times for the dough, and these are all rest times for you. The active times you will spend will be mainly on rolling the dough out, and which you must quickly do.

With that said, making kouign amman, or any laminated- dough pastries in general, is not reserved for the elite, super -talented, trained bakers. Anyone who has a perfect craving and appetite can definitely do it. That is you and me.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Kouign Amann

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.
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Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 12 buns
Author: sanna

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 and 1/2 cup warm water 105-110 F
  • 3 and 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter cubed
  • 1 and 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

Make the Dough

  • In a small bowl, combine yeast, a pinch of sugar and warm milk. Stir and let stand for 10-15 minutes until thick and foamy. Combine flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add to it the yeast mixture. With the dough hook attachment, slowly mix the ingredients until moistened. Knead the dough on low speed for 4-5 minutes until it is smooth, soft and cleaning the sides of the bowl.  Gather the dough into a ball and place it inside a bowl.  Let it rise for an hour, covered with plastic wrap. After rising, gently deflate the dough and pat it into a rough rectangle. Wrap it in plastic and chill for 40 minutes.

Make the Butter Block

  • Add about 3 teaspoons of flour inside a 7 x 8 inches Ziploc bag with seal. Shake it around to distribute. Add the cubed butter inside the bag and spread them in a single layer. Using your hands and fingers, smash the butter quickly so they become a little flexible for shaping. Once they are pliable, roll the rolling pin over the butter until the butter forms a rectangle and has reached all the corners of the bag. It is essentially a rectangle that is the same size as your Ziploc bag. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Encase the Butter

  • In a floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle that is 17 x 10 inches in size. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. Take the butter out from the fridge, use scissors to rip Ziploc open and peel it off from the butter. Position the butter at the center of the rectangle dough. The long side of the butter should be parallel to the short side of dough. Fold the lower third of the dough over to the center completely covering the butter. Fold the upper third of the dough towards the center to cover the first fold. You have done a business letter type of fold.

Turning the Dough (First and Second Turn)

  • Rotate the  dough so that the short side is facing you. Flour the board and your pin as needed. Roll the dough into 17 x 10 inch rectangle, then do the business letter fold again: Fold the lower third to the center, then upper third over it. That is your first turn. Repeat the process one more time for your second turn, ending with the business letter fold again. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Turning the Dough (Third and Fourth Turn)

  • Take dough out from the fridge and with the short side facing you, roll it out again to a 17 x 10 inches rectangle. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar evenly across the entire rectangle surface. Roll the rolling pin once over the sprinkled sugar to press them deep into the dough. Fold the lower third over the center  and fold the upper third of dough over that. This is your third turn. Rotate the dough again so that the short side is facing you. Roll again to 17 x 10 inches rectangle. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over the  dough surface, roll a rolling pin over it to press then fold the dough, business letter style. This is your fourth and final turn. Chill dough in the fridge for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic.

Assemble, Rise and Bake.

  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar on your working surface. Roll the dough to an 8 x 24 inch rectangle. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut it down vertically in half. Cut 6 equal sections horizontally to form 12 squares that are about 4 inches in size.
  • Grease a muffin pan that has 12 holes. Take each square pastry, fold the corners to the center and place each folded dough on a muffin hole. Cover the pastries loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes.
  • Pre-heat  oven to 400 F and maintain temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Set the muffin pan on a baking sheet that is lined with foil to catch any butter drips. Put the pastries in the oven and immediately lower temperature to 350 F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway into the baking. Let pastries cool slightly then transfer to a cooling rack. Let the pastries sit for a few minutes to  allow the dough inside to set before consuming. They will be doughy and moist initially, but will set into the right texture as they sit.

Notes

This recipe is a combination of the methods and principles I learned from The Kitchn, and the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey.

Kouign Amann: The Process

Make the Bread Dough

Combine yeast, warm water and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Stir and let stand until thick and foamy, about 5-7 minutes.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and slowly mix the ingredients using the dough hook attachment until moistened.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Knead the dough using low speed for 4-5 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and cleaning the sides of the bowl.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Gather dough into a ball and let rise for an hour, covered with plastic wrap.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Gently deflate the dough and pat it into a rough rectangle. Wrap with plastic and chill for 40 minutes to an hour.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Make the Butter Block

Add about 3 teaspoons of flour inside a 7 x 8 inches Ziploc bag with seal. Shake it around to distribute. Add the cubed butter inside the bag and spread them in a single layer. Using your hands and fingers, smash the butter quickly so they become a little flexible for shaping.

Once they are pliable, roll the rolling pin over the butter until the butter forms a rectangle and has reached all the corners of the bag. It is essentially a rectangle that is the same size as your Ziploc bag. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Encase the Butter

In a floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle that is 17 x 10 inches in size. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. Take the butter out from the fridge, use scissors to rip Ziploc open and peel it off from the butter. Position the butter at the center of the rectangle dough. The long side of the butter should be parallel to the short side of dough.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Fold the lower third of the dough over to the center completely covering the butter,

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Fold the upper third of the dough towards the center to cover the first fold. You have done a business letter type of fold.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Turning the Dough (First and Second Turn)

Rotate the  dough so that the short side is facing you.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Flour the board and your pin as needed. Roll the dough into 17 x 10 inch rectangle.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Do the business letter fold again: Lower third to the center, then upper third over it. That is your first turn. Repeat a turn again. Rotate your dough so the short side is facing you, then roll to a 17 x 10 inch rectangle. Fold business letter style and chill for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic.

You have completed two turns.

Turning the Dough (Third and Fourth Turn)

Take dough out from the fridge and with the short side facing you, roll it out again to a 17 x 10 inches rectangle. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar evenly across the entire rectangle surface of the dough. Roll the rolling pin once over the sprinkled sugar to press them deep into the dough.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Fold the lower third over the center  and fold the upper third of dough over that. This is your third turn.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Rotate the dough again so that the short side is facing you. Roll again to 17 x 10 inches rectangle. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over the dough surface, roll a rolling pin over it to press and fold the dough, business letter style. This is your fourth and final turn. Chill dough in the fridge for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic.

Assembly, Rising and Baking

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar on your working surface. Roll the dough to an 8 x 24 inch rectangle.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut it down vertically in half.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Cut 6 equal sections horizontally to form 12 squares that are about 4 inches in size.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Grease a muffin that has 12 holes. Take each square pastry, fold the corners to the center and place each folded dough on a muffin hole.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Cover the pastries loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

Pre-heat  oven to 400 F and maintain temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Set the muffin pan on a baking sheet that is lined with foil to catch any butter drips. Put the pastries in the oven and immediately lower temperature to 350 F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway into the baking. Let pastries cool slightly then transfer to a cooling rack. Let the pastries sit for a few minutes to  allow the dough inside to set before consuming. They will be doughy and moist initially, but will set into the right texture as they sit.

Kouign Amann are buttery layers of bread dough folded with a generous sprinkling of sugar in between the thin pastry layers.

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