While I cannot recall exactly when I first heard of Kouign Amann, I knew that when I came across them again this week that I had to finally make them. The photos not only left me drooling as only a pastry chef could, they intrigued me as well. So many flaky layers of dough and sugar…As with most other baked items that call for a laminated dough, kouign amann got pushed to the back burner where it languished on my bucket list of things I wanted to learn how to make. Then, while passing time and flipping through my twitter feed, I saw a link to an easy version and immediately clicked on it. The link took me to the wonderful website of Irvin Lin, Eat the Love and his beautiful photo tutorial on kouign amann. After reading through the post and taking a quick inventory of pantry, I knew this would be my entertainment for the day.
Read through the tutorial and you will learn how Irvin came to this recipe; after taking a class on laminated doughs, he developed this recipe in order to simplify the process. He also did something I frequently do, he turned to a book written by Nick Malgieri. In Nick’s The Modern Baker, there is a kouign amann recipe that consists of a simpler method for laminating dough. However, Irvin simplified it even further by using what is commonly referred to as a blitz method. While not exactly a new method, it is also not the most common shortcut for making a laminated dough but for the novice, it is a game changer. Even so, with a little investigating, you will find this method being used by professionals too. Two such examples I have come across are in a danish dough recipe from Baking with Julia contributed to the book by Beatrice Ojakangas and in a puff pastry recipe from Dessert Circus by Jacques Torres. Both books were released in the late 1990’s, so as you can see, this quick mixing method has been around for years. To take advantage of this shortcut, you will make a loose dough with large pieces of cold fat throughout. The dough is then given a series of folds and turns and if done properly, it does a great job of simulating the traditional method of folding in a block of butter to make an extremely forgiving and nearly foolproof dough.
What I really loved about the tutorial was the information Irvin gives. He tells you to brush away as much of the flour as possible and you really must take his advice. Invest in a natural bristle brush and keep it in your workspace for just this purpose. If you leave the flour behind, it will form a barrier between the layers of dough and rather than have a thick series of flaky layers you will have three thin and rather distinct layers which are more crispy than flaky.
This is the blitz method at its finest! By eliminating the traditional method of rolling the dough out, folding it up like a book and repeating 3-6 times, you fold the dough in thirds and roll it up. Although a bit crude looking, that is actually a lot of layers of fat chunks and dough which will become many flaky layers in the oven. This step alone is enough to make me want to hug Irvin and I am a professional pastry chef!!!
The prepared dough is given a rest in the fridge and then covered in sugar, rolled, folded and rolled again in more sugar before being cut and placed into pans to rise until it is time to be baked.
The worst part about moving is figuring out which box your stuff is in. I still cannot find my small muffin pans and the one I chose has only 9 cups in it-some day I need to figure out why that pan only has 9 cups. To bake off the rest of the pastries, I chose little brioche pans. Can I just say that unless you want to have a hard time getting them out of the little pans, do not do this. They gave them the perfect shape but they were so hard to get out of the pan!
Can you see the layers? And the sugar?
And here they are, hot out of the oven. It was so hard to wait. Heed the warning, get them out of the cups before they cool off or they will stick. If this happens, put them back into the hot oven for 2-3 minutes to warm the sugar and they will lift out of the cups.
They are every bit of richness that the photo suggests, try them with a cup of hot, dark coffee or strong tea and if you like, do as my husband did, dunk, dunk and dunk some more…
That crust on the top-pure sugary goodness! Thanks to Irvin Lin for teaching this old girl something new. For the complete recipe and tutorial, be sure to visit his website by following this link.