Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Baking Bible: Kouign Amann

Hello blogosphere! It has been well over a year since my last post. I was considering retiring the blog until Rose published her latest baking book (The Baking Bible) and the Heavenly Bakers were resurrected and renamed Rose's Alpha Bakers. I couldn't say no to another bake along with this wonderful group of people, so here we go.

The first project we tackled was the pastry that graces the cover of the book: the Kouign Amann. It is a marvelous laminated pastry from Breton: rich with butter, sweetened with sugar, and flaky and crispy and carmelized and pretty much all that you would ever want in a pastry.

I was terrified of laminated dough before I made these. All that rolling and turning and refrigeration! It turns out that it is pretty easy, although it requires a day when you can be at home, like, ALL DAY.

Name of Pastry: Laminate!
Occasion: Alpha Bakers, unite!
Constituents: flour, yeast, sugar, and a crap ton of butter

First off a dough of the usual suspects is made: flour, yeast, a little butter, water, a pinch of salt. Then comes the fun part: incorporating the crap ton of butter. Now, this butter should be a nice high fat kind like that stuff from Europe, so I chose the lovely Kerrygold. And you use the whole package.

So the butter is kneaded/shaped into a square, then the dough is rolled out into a larger square. The corners are rolled a little longer and folded around your butter like a little pillowy envelope.

Then the dough is rolled out into a rectangle (a very precise one with corners and straight edges and specific dimensions!) and folded into thirds. This get wrapped and put to rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

The second turn goes the same as the first. This time, I had some company from the young sir.

His name is Eliot, and he's 9 months old. That's his dad, my husband, standing next to him. They keep me busy.

The third turn is where things get all funky. This is where you add all the sugar, which eventually makes the dough sticky and wet and all sorts of difficult to work with.

Eventually the sticky sugar dough gets divided into eight pieces, shaped and placed into foil rings to rise and then bake.

The house smelled of butter as the pastries baked. That is a very good thing. The husband was very excited.

Oh man. Even when the dough gets sticky and difficult and you start to wonder if this is worth it, even when you've spent all day going back and forth from the refrigerator and not going outside, once you take your first bite of a still warm from the oven, homemade Kouign Amann, you know you are making them again. Mark called me a rockstar for homemade laminated dough, and that's a pretty cool complement.

So don't be afraid of laminated pastry, friends. Next rainy Sunday grab The Baking Bible and make yourself something amazing.