The ‘Queen’ of Pastries.
This is a Kouign-Amann (pronounced “queen a-mahn’, apparently). The pastry is a specialty of the Breton people in France, and, to really summarize it all up - it’s croissant dough, with layers of sugar added to each level of butter. After baking, the sugar caramelizes on top of the pastry (you can see some great ‘sugar drippings’ in the photos).
I first became aware and obsessed with the Kouign-Amann when Serious Eats first profiled Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC (the bakery that has now spawned the craze of Cronuts. People wait in line 2 hours to buy these and then sell them for 35 dollars more on the black market!). To be honest, they’re quite obsessed. When I went to DAB and tried it out, I thought it was very good - just that. But, it’s always been on my mind because of the storied time it takes to make. I figured- after spending about 11 hours last weekend on Croissant dough, doing the KA shouldn’t be that hard, right?
I was right for the most part. Most of the time was spent planning - getting the ratios right (there are very few recipes online), preparing the yeast, etc. I ultimately was inspired to bake them because of the beautiful morning buns that were made from croissant dough at this blog. My recipe was a modified version of a whole bunch of recipes - I used the Tartine Bread croissant recipe for the dough (modified to have a baker’s ratio of laminating butter at 55%), I took ratios of sugar-flour (in the end, I still had TOO much to work with) from Joanna Chang’s ‘Flour, Too’ and David Lebovitz’s popular recipe (my initial goal was to use 85% sugar-flour, but the baker’s ratio ended up being closer to 56%). I tried the butter rolling technique of Weekend Bakery, which much greater success than last week’s croissants.
All in all, I’m very happy with how they look. I’m about to take these pastries to work (only 12 of them! let the fighting begin) - and I’ll try to update on how they taste and their texture. I’m a little worried I might have too much sugar. Either way, I’m generally pleased with how they turned out (they were a little bit too big for the muffin tin - and, oh God, that’ll be a pain in the butt to clean) - something I’d be happy to sell at a bakery.
Did the taste test. Oh my god. Quite a bit denser than my croissants last week. But the caramelized sugar on the outside in conjunction with the still flaky layers… I can’t even.