The Kouign amann @ Culture Café

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April 9, 2015
If you’ve ever been on the first floor of the FNAC early in the morning, you’ve probably smelled the sweet scent of melted butter and caramelized sugar baking into a flaky layered dough. This heavenly smell is coming from none other than Culture Café–and the deliciously sinful treat? The Kouign amann.

We had never even heard of this pastry before stepping foot inside Culture Café one early morning, but after smelling it baking, and then seeing its gooey goodness exiting the oven, we couldn’t help ourselves. The pastry’s origins stem from Brittany circa 1860–and its name literally means “cake butter” and with sugar sprinkled into the mix, we ask ourselves, what’s not to love?!

We had the privilege of watching Loïcia (the lovely lady who is the brains and braun behind many of the pastries at Culture) make the Kouign amann one morning last week and we tried our hardest to keep up. It seems simple enough when watching her effortlessly roll out dough, whisk butter and sugar, spread mixture, and repeat the process…but when it’s all said and done, we prefer visiting our friends at Culture Café, getting our favorite double cappuccino, and indulging in a perfectly crafted Kouign amann made by Loïcia. That way our kitchens remain flour-less, and we don’t really need to meditate on the fact that the recipe calls for equal parts butter and sugar.
Just in case you’d like to tackle the recipe yourself, we asked Loïcia to share it with you:

Loïcia couldn’t give us her secret dough recipe, so we took a pretty standard one that needs to be created 24 hours in advance. If you buy pre-made dough, go ahead and skip to step 4.

Ingredients for Dough:5g yeast275g flour6g salt60ml of warm water45g of butter40g of sugar175ml of cold water

1. Whisk yeast and warm water in a bowl and let rest for about 5 min until the yeast starts to foam.  

2. Add  flour, salt, butter, sugar and cold water. Knead dough adding flour if needed until dough is supple and slightly sticky.  

3. Place plastic wrap over the dough and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (approx 1.5-2 hrs) Knead it again and then recover and place in fridge for another hour until it has doubled in size once more.

4. Take the dough out- knead into a rectangular block, wrap it back in plastic and let it sit in the fridge over night.

Now comes the fun part!

1. Mix equal parts butter and sugar (225g of each) until it resembles a waxy texture- the butter should be cold but pliable, so make sure your butter comes straight from the fridge.

2. Roll out your dough (always keeping the rectangular shape- approximately 60X80cm and 3-4cm thick) and spread the butter/sugar mixture on top of the dough evenly- leaving a small border on the top and sides while leaving the bottom 1/3 of the dough butter free. 
The key to creating an excellent Kouign Amann is all those flaky layers which is achieved through a classic pastry technique called “lamination”.  This is when dough is wrapped around butter- folded over and over again which produces very thin layers that are separated by (le sigh) butter.  A very important trick Loïcia told us is that the butter needs to be chilled enough so that it doesn’t soften and ooze out between all those layers- so make sure your butter sugar combo is cold to begin with.

3. Fold the bottom portion of the dough like a letter- covering half of the the sugar/butter combo, and then fold the top to create your first layer.  Seal the edges of the dough so none of that precious butter escapes!

4. Now you make your first of many “folds”!  With a rolling pin roll out the dough (dusting with flour as needed) all while keeping the rectangular shape.  Repeat the “letter folding” (lower 1/3 to the middle, followed by the upper third on top of it.) Repeat this process 3 times. 

5. Sprinkle some sugar on top of your dough mixture- or this is the moment to add fresh fruits, chocolate, goat cheese and bacon, herbs- etc.  There are so many options depending on if you are a sweet or savory person.  Then roll like you would a cinnamon roll.  Cut into small circles that fit into a muffin tin and then open a bottle of wine.  Your intense labor deserves some recognition!  Let cook for 20 min at 400 degrees C.  
And then hope that they turn out something like this:

Or you could save yourself the time and head to Culture Café for the real deal- where they are guaranteed to be flaky and scrumptious!

Thank you Loïcia for letting us watch as you work your magic! If you haven’t tried the Kouign Amann at Culture yet, we recommend going first thing in the morning, while they’re still warm (and still available!).

Culture Café

Rue de Genève 6 
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