The first time I tasted kouign amann was almost two years ago, a few weeks after I had given birth to my third child (my son, Micah). My good friend Helen came to visit us and meet the baby, and she brought us a box of delicious pastries from her favorite neighborhood bakery, B. Patisserie. All of the pastries were delicious, but the one that stood out was the kouign amann. It was divine. To me it was like a cross between a croissant and a palmier. Buttery and flakey, it also had a crisp caramelized sugar element to it - I was hooked!
We recently went apple picking with Helen and her family, and she again bought us a box from B. Patisserie, full of different flavored kouign amann! Needless to say, the box of kouign amann didn't last very long in our house, but I was still craving more! So I decided I would try my hand at making them! I followed Anita Chu's recipe at Dessert First (love her site!), and also used the photo tutorial at the Kitchn to help me along the way. Both sites recommended useing European butter as it has a higher fat content ratio, so I went out and bought some Kerrygold salted butter.
The recipe started with making a simple yeast dough with a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. After letting it rise, covered, for about an hour, I transferred it to the refrigerator to let it chill for half and hour.
The next step was to pound the block of butter. Sounds strange, but yes you read that right! With a little flour on my pastry board and rolling pin, I pounded and flattened my butter into a large rectangle.
Then I let the butter chill in the fridge while I rolled out my dough.
Once I had it rolled to the right size, I placed my flattened butter in the center, and then folded each side of the dough over the butter.
Then I again rolled out the dough, and folded it in thirds once more. Then it went into the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.
What comes next is a series of steps called "turns", where you roll out the dough and fold it into thirds, then roll out the dough, and fold it into third again. This is what creates the beautiful flaky layers in the pastry. There are a total of 4 turns - after the first 2 turns the dough should chill in the fridge, and the last 2 turns incorporate layers of sugar in between the folding. But I ended up having the chill my dough after every turn, since it was pretty warm out that day.
After the final turn and chill in the fridge, I rolled out my dough once more and used a pizza wheel to slice my dough into twelve 4x4-inch squares.
Then I placed them into a combination of tart rings (well, I used these english muffin rings!) and mini tart pans.
To make the signature kouign amann shape, you simply fold in the 4 corners of the square of the pastry. Then you let them rise for another hour, before baking them at 350F for about 40 minutes (rotating the pan once in the middle of baking).
You can find the apple pie filling in my new book (I cut the recipe in half to fill 6 kouign amann), but it's basically diced apples mixed with flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and cloves. Then before shaping my kouign amann, I placed a spoonful of apple mixture into each center.
To give you an idea of how much work these were, I started making my kouign amann at about 11:00am that morning, and they didn't come out of the oven until 5:30pm that evening. They took that long to make. But, they were so worth it.
Be sure to remove the tart rings almost as soon as they come out of the oven, otherwise the caramelized sugar will cause the pastry to stick to the tart rings, making it almost impossible to remove the pastry in one piece!
And as for the apple pie kouign amann, they turned out to be quite delectable, kind of like apple pie on steroids! Although I think next time I'd cook the apple mixture a bit on the stove before filling the pastries, to hopefully keep my apple pie center glossy and silky (in this batch, the apples were a bit dried out, since they didn't stay completely covered during baking like they do with apple pie).
Also next time I make these, I think I'll cut down on the amount of sugar incorporated into the layers, as I found them a tad too sweet compared to the ones at B. Patisserie.
And with that, I'll end this post with some adorable pictures of the kids at the apple farm :) Enjoy!