Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Kouign - Amann
Imagine this: a freshly baked loaf of bread. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Inhale the aroma. Hmmm.....wonderful, isn't it? To my mind, there is no other culinary aroma quite as enticing as the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread.
Now, slather some butter on a slice. Oh, and sprinkle some sugar on it. Eat. There is nothing quite as satisfying as a slice of bread with some butter and sugar.
Or is there?
Meet the Kouign- Amann.
The what? Yes, I hear you, for I had pretty much the same reaction when I first heard about the Kouign - Amann.
“There is a new bakery close to you house,” my daughter’s paediatrician excitedly informed me during one of our visits to her clinic, “and they sell the Kouign - Amann.”
“The what?” I asked her.
“Kweeneen Ahmann. It is a French bread. Lots of butter. Lots of sugar. Sinfully good. You'll love it!,” she told me, writing down the name of the said bakery and the bread.
Back home, I was googling away ‘Kouign Amann’ on the net.
Kouign-amann is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with a dough akin to bread dough with sugar sprinkled between layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake ("kouign") and butter ("amann"). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistere, in the west of France, where it originated in 1865. (source: wikipedia)
The inimitable David Lebovitz has a recipe for Kouign Amann; why buy what you can make at home? So I rolled up my sleeves and got my fingers deep into the dough.
The first time, I followed his recipe to the letter. The second time, I used cinnamon sugar instead of caster sugar, which makes it a not so authentic Kouign Amann, but believe me when I say it, Kouign - Amann with cinnamon tastes heavenly, especially when had with a cup of strong, unsweetened black coffee.
The pictures, however, are from the first time and so you don’t see any cinnamon sugar in the pictures.
Dried Yeast: 1 tbsp
Warm water: ¾ cup (I needed about a couple of tablespoons more)
All purpose flour: 2 cups
Sugar: 1 cup +1/3 cup
(to make cinnamon sugar, add 3 tbsp of powdered cinnamon to 1 cup of sugar)
SALTED Butter: 125 gms + 3 tbsps melted butter
Sea salt: 1/2 tsp
Cut the butter into cubes and let it chill.
Dissolve the yeast in a couple of tbsps of water with a tsp of sugar. Set aside till the yeast is foamy.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and mix it into the flour.
Add the remaining water in a thin stream till the flour comes together into a soft but not sticky dough. (If the dough feels too sticky, add some flour, a tbsp at a time. If too hard, add water, again a tbsp at a time. The second time, I needed to add some water).
Transfer the dough on a lightly dusted countertop and knead the dough till it feels soft and elastic and doesn't cling to your fingers or stick to the countertop.
Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover and let it rest for about an hour.
Lightly dust the countertop with some flour and roll the dough into a rectangle 12”x18” (the 12” side should be on your left and right, the top and bottom of the rectangle should be about 18” - mine was not as big, though I didn't measure the exact dimensions).
Place the butter cubes in the centre of the dough and sprinkle ¼ cup of the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Fold the left side of the dough over the centre of the dough, do so with the right end of the dough as well.
Now sprinkle ¼ cup of cinnamon sugar over the length of the folded dough and fold the dough once again into three.
Wrap the dough into a plastic wrap and chill for an hour. (I chilled mine for over 2 hours).
Wipe the counter top clean and then sprinkle it with 1/3 cup of PLAIN caster sugar. Slide the chilled dough on the sugar covered countertop and press ¼ cup cinnamon sugar into the top of the dough.
(drowned in sugar, my entry to Susan's Black and White Wednesday)
Roll the dough into a rectangle once again (of similar dimensions as before). I found the dough more difficult to work with at this stage and so I rolled it for a bit and then finally stretched it with my hands.
Fold it into thirds, wrap it in a cling wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.
(the first time, I made three small loaves. If you wish to do the same, divide the dough into 3 at this stage).
Pre-heat the oven to 425 deg F or 220 deg C (I thought 200 deg C worked better, I thought my cakes were a bit dry when I baked them at 220 deg C) and butter a 9” pie plate.
Open the cling wrap and shape the chilled dough into a disc to fit your pie plate. Lift the cling wrap and invert it over the pie plate. Sprinkle the last ¼ cup of cinnamon sugar over the top and drizzle with 1 tbsp melted butter.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the top is caramelised. Let it rest for a couple of minutes, slide onto a wire rack and cool for about 10-15 minute.
Taste it. Melted butter oozing out and mingling with caramelised sugar…..oh, utter bliss. The Kouign-Amann has been Yeastspotted, hosted by Hefe and Mehr.
It is customary to post something sweet, something decadent especially when marking blog anniversaries. This Kouign- amann celebrates my third blog anniversary. It is a very special recipe to me, because had it not been for blogging, I would never have attempted making something that isn’t pronounced the way it is written! Blogging has made me stretch my own limits in the kitchen and how!
I know I am not as regular as I’d like to be in posting recipes or in responding to comments, but I want to thank each and everyone of you for visiting my blog over the last three years, leaving me your comments and trying out my recipes.
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!
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