Kouign-amann, pronounced almost like “queen a man”, is a popular French/Breton pastry, originating from the Brittany region. I remember first learning about it from “Chef Steps” on YouTube, back in high school, where I horrendously butchered the pronunciation of it because I don’t speak French. The last time I successfully made kouign-amann was spring break, during my sophomore year of college. So that was four years ago. I still remember doing it one really boring morning, when I literally had all of the time in the world. I love to experiment with different flavors in kouign amann, because it’s honestly similar to a croissant, but muffin shaped and coated in sugar. Both use a dough and butter block, so you can play around with flavors there, or in the sugar coating. For my particular recipe, I am using kuromitsu, which is Okinawan black sugar syrup, in my dough, and I’m coating the entire thing in brown butter as well as muscovado sugar, which is a rich, earthy brown sugar, just to give more caramelization to the entire pastry.
This is honestly a six-hour commitment, as is anything that requires lamination or proofing, or in this case, both. For those of you who do not know what either term is, let me break it down for you
(not like a rapper, do not trust me with rapping anything except Super Bass by Nicki Minaj, because I will fail you there). Laminating of the process of essentially layering dough with butter. Think puff pastry or croissants for example. The reason why those are flaky is because there are layers of butter between the layers of dough, which causes them to puff up in the oven when the butter evaporates. Laminating is a very temperamental process and trying to do it in too warm of an environment will typically end up with a glutenous, greasy mess. Proofing, while tedious, is not as bad as laminating. It is the process of resting a dough that leavens in a warmer environment, typically to allow the yeast in a dough to help it rise, since when you bake a yeast based dough or batter, it will not rise much more than it was prior to baking, unlike a baking powder/soda or egg-leavened dough or batter. Now you can see how this is tricky, because with lamination, it requires cold climate, whereas proofing requires the opposite.
For the dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons kuromitsu
1/2 stick unsalted butter; melted
2 packets active-dry yeast
3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F at the most)
Whisk together the yeast, water, and kuromitsu. Allow to sit until frothy. Combine ingredients and knead on a floured surface until smooth. Place in a bowl and allow to proof in a warm area for 1 hour.
For the butter block:
3 sticks unsalted butter
3 tablespoons kuromitsu
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
Cream ingredients together. Using parchment and a sharpie, draw out a 12×6 inch rectangle. Flip over so that the ink side is facing outwards and spread the butter inside of the rectangle that you drew(basically, do not spread the butter on the side you actually used the sharpie on). Allow the butter to freeze for at least 30-45 minutes.
For the Kouign-amann
Lightly dust the dough with flour and roll out to be over twice the size of the butter block. Place the block inside of the dough and roll out to about 1.5x the size(you want it to be about 1/8th an inch thickness). Fold the edges towards the center(like a pamphlet) and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then re-roll the dough and repeat the same step with the folding and chilling. Do that that one more time(so three times of folding in total). Re-roll out the dough to be 1/8th an inch and cut into 12 squares. Brush with the coating and allow to sit in a 12-cupcake muffin tin or ramekins for 30-45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.
For the coating:
1 cup muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter; browned
Mix salt and sugar together. You will essentially brush the dough squares on both sides with the brown butter and sprinkle on the sugar/salt mixture. You will also brush the muffin tins with the brown butter mixture as well.