Monday, April 25, 2011

Kouign Amann

I tasted Kouign Amann (queen a-mahn) for the very first time a few weeks ago at a wonderful bakery on Queen Anne called La Reve.  I had read rave reviews about the croissants and pain au chocolat but the crisp caramelized looking pastry in the corner of the case caught my eye.  I pointed to it,because I wasn't sure how to pronounce it and Sharon, one of the owners sweetly informed me of it's pronunciation: queen a-mahn. All I can say is long live the Queen !  As soon as I got home home I Googled the Internet for a recipe and the first one I ran across was Pierre Herme's. I thought well the King of Pastry baking the Queen-it must be magic.  Unfortunately some of the reviews of his recipe said it came out like a stale dry sticky bun-not the way I wanted to start my  Kouign Amann experience. So I put Pierre on the back burner and I continued to search.  I came across David Lebovitz's recipe.

 I trust David, the way you trust a good friend not to steer you wrong. And bonus, he has lots of photos to walk you through the process and wonderful tips to keep you from making any mistakes. Even reading the 100+ comments on his Kouign Amann I knew I was in for challenge.  The underlying message throughout the comments was follow the steps exactly and you will succeed. It became my mantra for baking my Kouign Amann.The descriptions by others and their photos linked to David's blog encouraged me -I could taste the crisp sugary caramel pastry already and I was only setting up my mise en place. I encourage you try this-even if you don't think you can do butter pastry-you can and you must.  And trust David like you trust your best friend-follow his recipe and instructions and Voila !  The most beautiful,incredible tasting Kouign Amann created and baked in your kitchen. 

The bits that stuck to the bottom of the pan

It's butter and sugar and caramel oh my.  Really, I don't exaggerate try it you will become addicted-I promise. Mine turned out more like it's namesake -butter cake - than a laminated sugared pastry- I think it's from layering in the butter with the sugar.  If you Google images of this cake you will see all types ranging from something that looks like a croissant with sugar to my flattened little circle of sweet caramel cake loaded with butter.

 The one at La Reve was more like a croissant (check out the Cakespy photo and you'll see what I mean). So I'm now going to try Joe Pastry's Recipe-he keeps his butter separate from the sugar when laminating his dough. And just like David he gives you wonderful instructions !  Stay tuned for tomorrow's results using Joe Pastry's recipe and instructions.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love a good experiment!!!

monkeycat said...

Your version sounds like it came out more authentic. I first had Kouign Amann in Bretagne and couldn't get enough of it. Every time I have had it in France it has been rich, thick, and super sticky. I was very excited to find it at Honoré in Seattle but was disappointed with the light croissant texture. If Le Rêve makes it the same way I will pass. There's a brand place in Capitol Hill called Regency Bakery and Café that makes Kouign Amann, but I haven't had a chance to try it there yet. Thanks for this post, I enjoyed it very much and the pictures are fantastic.

Roadtrek Girl said...

I'm jealous that your first experience with it was in Bretagne. I was just at Le Reve last week and had it has a little stickiness to it but more like a croissant with a crispy slighty sticky topping

David said...

I will have to try La Reve's kouign amann on my way to work tomorrow, also, maybe Regency's as well since i live so close. Honores version was pretty disappointing if you've had the real thing in Brittany. I wish I could remember the name of the bakery that had a stall in the Saturday market in Rennes because they made the best I've ever had.
I just baked off Lebovitz's recipe tonight for the first time in years with a few modifications. Mostly, I baked little cakes rolled like cinnamon rolls which allows the caramel to run deeper into the pastry.

Roadtrek Girl said...

David,Someday I hope to try an original in Brittany ,as well as Canelés in Bordeaux. Sad to say I have not been to Honore yet,the mixed reviews I hear have kept me away,maybe I will venture out this weekend. Thank you for sharing the tip about rolling your cakes like cinnamon rolls.