Kouign-Amann are buttery, flaky, caramelized bites of deliciousness. They’re from Brittany, a northern region of France where I spent my summers growing up. I have a nostalgic, and gastronomic love of these and I always assumed they would be super complicated to make at home – well, good news and bad news. The good news? They’re a little time intensive, but super easy to make! The bad news? If I can make a batch it is very hard for to not to eat that batch. I’ll work on that…
The dough is very simple and the trick to light fluffy and just lightly sweetened Kouign Amann is folding the dough to create layers that will puff up when baked. We’ll be using sugar to dust each layer and prevent the dough from sticking and that sugar will brown and caramelize as it bakes. Because there are very few ingredients make sure you use good quality butter (this is the only recipe where I prefer salted butter) and that you use bread flour.
- Cube the butter chill it in the fridge while you get the rest of the ingredients ready. The butter should be very cold when it goes into the dough.
- Mix 1 packet of dry yeast with warm water. Stir and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse together the bread flower and salt. Add in half of the cold butter and pulse it a few times. The butter should still be visible but running throughout the flour. Add in the rest of the butter and pulse a few more times until the butter is mixed in but still pea-sized or larger.
- The yeast should be foamy and ready to use. Rather than adding warm water to our delicate butter it’s better to help cool the yeast mixture. I like to use a splash of Grand Marnier for a little French boost of flavor – but plain cold water is just fine. Pour it into the food processor and pulse everything together a few more times. The dough should just be starting to form.
- Pour the dough out onto a board and form it into a rectangle. Fold the dough onto itself to create a square. The dough will be very sticky and elastic so it’s sometimes easier just to place it directly onto saran wrap or cling foil. Wrap it well and refrigerate for about an hour. I often make it the night before and refrigerate it overnight.
- Unwrap the chilled dough and use a little bit of sugar to “flour” the dough, board and rolling pin. I like to scoop out one quarter cup of sugar at a time so I know the sugar is evenly distributed and that I’m using about a quarter cup for each fold. It’s totally fine if you wind up using a little less or little more sugar.
- Roll out the dough so it is a flat and even rectangle. It should be pretty large about 12 x 15 or wider. Fold it in on itself the long way so that one side folds down about a third of the way in, then fold the other side to cover the first fold.
- Rotate the dough and use the next quarter cup of sugar to “flour” the dough and board. Roll it out again to roughly the same size as your last rectangle. I like to fold it and roll it out a third time using the last bit of sugar, but you can also skip the third roll if you like or are pressed for time.
- Roll out to a large triangle one last time – then use a sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle to expose all the layers created by the rolling and folding. Cut the dough into twelve squares Lift the squares and press the four corner pieces together gently. Spray a cupcake or muffin tin with non-stick spray and place each piece of dough into a cup.
- Cover loosely in saran wrap and let them rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. They won’t rise very much so don’t worry if you only see a small change. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees while the dough rises.
- Bake the for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they become light brown and caramelized.
- Give them 2-3 minutes to cool and come together and then unmold them right away if you wait more than 10 minutes the caramel will set up and it getting them out of the cupcake tin will be tricky. Place them on parchment paper to let them cool completely.