Saturday, December 25, 2010

Kouign Amann Recipe: Breton Butter Cake

kouign amann recipe; Breton butter cake, also known as gateau breton kouign amann
This kouign amann recipe makes a delicious breton butter cake.
What is kouign amann, you ask? It is a traditional pastry from the Brittany region in the north-west of France (a Parisian friend's take on the word was along the lines of "kween eh-men").

The name of this pastry means "butter cake" in Breton, one of the regional languages of the area, and with good reason: one must work a half pound of butter into the dough to achieve its flaky layers.  In addition to the half cup of butter, an entire cup of sugar is loaded into this butter cake pastry, which otherwise consists of just two cups of flour, some yeast, and some water.

kouing amann. This kouign amann recipe yields a delicious Breton butter cake
breton kouign amann cake, or "gateau breton kouign amann"
The result is a yeast bread with butter-and-sugar-induced layering, coated in a crunchy and gooey caramelization. Best eaten warm, shortly after it has come out of the oven, kouign amann tastes like hot fresh bread that you've just buttered, sugared, and dipped into crunchy caramel.
kouign amann recipe (gateau breton kouign amann), a delicious breton butter cake
Kouign Amann Recipe

Kouign Amann Recipe

The recipe and useful tips at David Lebovitz's blog make this treat fairly easy to tackle as long as you have a few hours to spend at home while you wait for the bread to rise between rolling out and folding.

Additional tips I would suggest include not using a spring-form pan (the melting butter will leak out, and the high sides prevent hot oven air from rushing over the top of the cake and caramelizing it as thoroughly as it could in a pan with lower sides), and not letting the finished product cool for too long before removing it from the pan (or else the caramel will become too hard, and you will have to tear the bread out of the pan).

Best of luck!