Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rose's Alpha Bakers: Kouign Amann

I'm back for another year of baking with the wonderful Heavenly Cake Bakers. Exciting! This year we are: Rose's Alpha Bakers, and we're baking from another book by the amazing Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Baking Bible. Our first recipe from the book is the buttery, sugary, delicious Kouign Amann.

I've made kouign amann once before, following David Lebovitz's recipe. As much as I love David Lebovitz's recipes and his blog, I enjoyed my second go 'round with kouign amann much more using Rose's recipe. The dough was much easier to handle, I liked the individual sized portions better than one large cake, and the finished cakes were lighter and flakier (although Rose's recipe does call for 4 times the butter of David's, so that would explain the extra flakiness!).

These pastries originated in the Brittany region of France and kouign amann translates to cake (kouign) butter (amann)...and a buttery cake they sure are! Definitely use European cultured butter which has a higher butterfat percentage than American butter, and make the small, individualized sized pastries which will give you more caramelization per bite.

As noted in the cookbook, these pastries take about 6 hours from start to finish, so these are an all-day project. I love making laminated doughs though, so I enjoyed the rolling and making turns. My only complaint is that Rose recommends not letting the dough chill for longer than 2 hours, so - while these pastries seem perfect for breakfast or brunch - there wouldn't be any way to make these to serve in the morning (unless you woke up at 3:00am!). They would, however, be equally good for dessert - and that's how my husband and I enjoyed them, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - but I would love to serve them fresh from the oven at a brunch party. The pastries were pretty good the next day, warmed briefly in the microwave, but they had lost the caramelized crunch on the bottom of the pastry. The recipe says to store them in paper bags, but I wrapped each one, individually, in wax paper...not only did they stay fresh, they looked like they came straight from a French pâtisserie.

Here are my photos from my first Rose's Alpha Bakers adventure:

a few simple ingredients combine to make a sweet, buttery, flaky creation!

my ball of dough. A very easy dough to work with - not sticky or tough!

my 5" butter square

instead of rolling it, I just pressed and pulled my dough into an 8" square...easy!

the butter square gets outlined...

and then the four corners get rolled into long "tabs" or flaps

the butter square gets placed on the middle "pillow" of dough...

and the four flaps get folded over (just like an envelope) and edges are pinched shut

At this point, you make two "turns" of the dough (folding the dough in thirds and rolling out) which creates a laminated dough (layers of dough and butter). The third turn is rolled out with sugar, instead of flour, which helps to create the sugary, caramelized layers.

about to roll the third turn in sugar

the dough is rolled to an 8x16" rectangle and then cut into eight 4" squares

you can see the layers here

each square is rolled to 6" and then the four corners are folded into the middle

the other four corners are then folded into the middle (over the original four corners)

each bundle is placed into a baking ring and set aside to rise

the baked kouign amann are buttery and caramelized...yum!

crunchy and delicious on the outside...

while still soft and tender on the inside (this was cut into while still warm...I couldn't wait!
So the layers are a little smooshed)

we added a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoyed for dessert

here is a picture from the next morning.
You can see the layers more clearly but it doesn't look quite as moist.
Still yummy though, after a quick warming.

Bye for now...