Kouign Amann (Breton Butter Cake)
Some Bretons are worried that the making of kouign amann (pronounced KWEEN ah-man) will die out. But after tasting this traditional dessert made with tons of sugar and an outrageous amount of butter they haven’t a thing to worry about. This dish is the perfect example of the essence of Brittany—good, simple cooking. The pastry is tricky, but this is a simplified recipe. Even if the pastry is not perfect, it will taste good.
- 2 (7-gram) packets active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups flour
- 11 tbsp. butter (keep 8 tbsp. or 1 stick in refrigerator until ready to use)
- 1 1⁄4 cups sugar
- Dissolve yeast in 1⁄3 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl. Set aside until yeast begins to activate (it will foam a little), about 10 minutes.
- Add salt and 1 cup flour to yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add 1⁄3 cup water, and when well blended, add remaining 1 cup flour and another 2⁄3 cup water. Stir until dough forms into a ball, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead with the heels of your palms until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Coat the inside of a large bowl with butter, place dough in bowl, and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450°. Grease a 9″ pie pan with butter and dust with flour. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface into a large rectangle, about 12″ × 18″, with the shorter side nearest you.
- Cut chilled stick of butter into 10–12 pieces. Dot middle portion of dough with butter pieces and sprinkle with 3⁄4 cup of the sugar. Working quickly, fold short sides toward the center, over the butter and sugar. Edges should slightly overlap. Sprinkle dough with sugar and roll over seams to seal. Turn dough again so that the shorter side is nearest you and fold into thirds, as you would a letter. Let dough rest 15 minutes in refrigerator.
- Sprinkle work surface with sugar. Roll out dough, dusting with 1⁄4 cup sugar as you go, into a large rectangle. Fold into thirds again and let dough rest another 15 minutes in refrigerator.
- Again sprinkle work surface with sugar. Roll out dough, dusting with remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar, into a square slightly larger than pie pan. Ease dough into pan. Melt remaining 3 tbsp. butter, and drizzle over dough. Sprinkle with sugar and bake until golden, 35–40 minutes. Remove from pan while hot and serve warm.