In my short time in SLC, I’ve managed to make friends by bonding over a love of kouign amanns. For those unfamiliar with this obscure pastry, it’s a laminated pastry covered in caramelized sugar that is considered to be the fattiest European pastry. Apparently the name comes for the Breton words for ‘cake’ and ‘butter’. How apt.
I first encountered the kouign amann at Dominique Ansel in NYC, where it promptly became the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten. I tried two more after that, but both were pretty mediocre. This was my first attempt at baking them, so obviously I used the recipe from my Dominique Ansel cookbook. There were a couple of small things I could improve, but overall these were spectacular. 10/10 should not make again if I want to continue to fit into my pants.
After befriending people over a shared love of pastry, we set up a dinner/bake-off where we would all bring our kouign amanns and eat them and judge each other. Dinner parties are not a particularly “social distancing” friendly event, so we moved it over to a video conference and discussed our bakes. It was a huge success, and we decided that our bake-offs will be a biweekly event!
I really didn’t deviate too much, so here is a link to the original recipe. This is what I did differently:
- I used fresh yeast instead of instant yeast. The conversion is ~12 g, so I used 10 to account for altitude.
- I didn’t have ring molds so I used cupcake tins. I buttered and sugared them so that they would caramelize.
- I didn’t use nearly enough sugar, so you can see that mine didn’t caramelize enough on top.
- I didn’t want to cut scraps, so I left some with rounded edges
I was ecstatic with how they turned out. The pastry was so delicate and flaky that I couldn’t even situate them correctly, as the bottom would break through. The only thing I would do differently next time is use more sugar, as I didn’t get the optimal level of caramelizing on top. The texture and taste were otherwise spot on!