Shelby and I have been reunited at last! After a long winter quarter, we started off spring break with this fantastic baking challenge. I found lots of kouign amann recipes, but settled on this one, since it made several smaller kouign amanns instead of one massive one. Easier to transport, easier to share! We made a few changes to the recipe, since we couldn’t find European butter, and we assumed that the water had to be warmed (although it wasn’t specified) in order to activate the yeast. Since other recipes I looked at used salted butter, we also added a bit of salt to the butter during the creaming stage.
The difference between regular butter and European butter is fat content, with European butter having a higher fat content. This means that there is less water in the butter, making it hold it’s shape a little better. For these pastries, I think not using the European butter led us to having a bit of a mess during baking. A lot of the butter melted out of the pastries and spread into the pan, burning the bottoms of the pastries. They still tasted amazing, we just cut the burnt layer off, but that might have had something to do with our butter. Also, in order to avoid the butter escaping, make sure to really pinch the sides together when you first fold the butter into the dough, in order to prevent making quite as much of a mess. It will be messy, have no doubt about that, but you can minimize it by preventing your butter from escaping.
Although these pastries do take a long time to make (about 3.5-4 hours, depending on how fast you work), they are worth it! They are quite pretty, and delicious. Once you put them in the oven, these pastries blossom into beautiful layers of flaky, crispy dough with caramelized butter and sugar between each layer. Yum!
adapted from Lisa is Cooking
Makes 8 pastries
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 packets active rise yeast
1 1/2 cups water, 105-115˚F
2 tsp salt, divided
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1/4 cup sugar, yeast, water, and 1 tsp salt. Add the flour and mix with a dough hook until a smooth, shiny dough forms, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to add a few tablespoons more water in order to get the desired consistency, or more flour if the dough is too wet.
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and place the dough inside, turning it a few times to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.
While the dough is rising, make the butter block. Cream together the butter, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup sugar and cream until well blended and smooth. Remove and place the butter in plastic wrap. Form an approximately 8″x11″ rectangle and refrigerate until ready to use.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll into a rectangle about 12″x18″. Place the butter block on one half of the dough and fold the other half over. Pinch the edges of the dough to secure the butter inside. Make sure that it’s really pinched shut, to avoid butter escaping later. Sprinkle the work surface with 1/4 cup sugar. Place the dough over the sugar and roll into another 12×18 rectangle. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup over the top of the rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds, the short way, into an approximately 12×6 rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the work surface with another 1/4 cup of sugar, and roll out the dough into another 12×18 rectangle. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup sugar on top, and fold again into thirds. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
Sprinkle the surface with 1/2 cup sugar and roll the dough into a rectangle 8×16 inches. Slice into eight 4-inch squares. Fold the corners of each square into the middle, forming a smaller square. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and caramelized. Serve warm. Enjoy!