Crunchy, chewy, and caramelized sugary exterior. Buttery, soft, and tender interior. The flavor is that of a very sugary croissant. Just the scent in my house is fattening. These are goooooood.
Yesterday, I watched a DVR recording of one of my very favorite Food Network shows, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The
Neelys selected this Kouign-Amann (pronounced queen ahmahn) that looked
like a sugary, buttery, round croissant kind of thing. "I've made
croissants," I thought to myself. "These look easy. I just
need some of those ring mould thingies." Well, those ring mould
thingies are expensive, so I started checking out some more google images of
Kouign-Amann. There are some that look like they're baked in those rings; some seem to have been baked in muffin tins; some are almost flat; and many are large and baked in a 10-inch spring form pan. So I decided that I had some leeway, and decided to bake them as if I were putting them into a ring mould, folding them up into the middle, but not putting them in the mould. I tried using a toothpick to secure the four corners folded into the middle, and it sort of worked, for some of them. Next time, I think I'll probably just make these small because the small ones seemed to hold their shapes better than the large. Plus, one large one just seems so, so...well, large. I can see, though, why the Neelys love these so much. Very decadent. Very satisfying.
1. In a liquid measuring cup, measure water and then add sea salt. Let stand until sea salt has dissolved completely. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl in a microwave oven, or over low heat in a small pan.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and the instant yeast. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the melted butter. Add the water/salt mixture, and continue to mix until combined into a ball of dough, about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise about one hour, or until doubled.
3. After it has doubled, punch the dough down, wrap in plastic, and place on a baking sheet (not a large plate--a baking sheet). Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
4. While the dough chills, unwrap the four sticks of butter and place side by side in a gallon size zip-top bag. Leave bag unzipped and start pounding the butter with a heavy rolling pin. Pound and roll until you have a squarish shaped slab of butter that is a little over 1/4 inch thick. Return to the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.
5. Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and unwrap onto a floured surface. Roll dough out to an 18-inch square. Cut the butter square out of the bag and place in the middle of the dough square so that each side of the butter square faces a corner of the dough square. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose. The original recipe says to pinch dough seams to seal, but I had so much overlap, that was unnecessary.
6. Roll dough into a 24 x 8 inch rectangle, making sure to flour the rolling pin and rolling surface as needed to prevent sticking. Brush excess flour with a pastry brush and then fold rectangle into thirds. Wrap the dough in plastic and place back on the baking sheet. Chill for 20 minutes. This completes the first turn.
7. Roll dough out again to a 24 x 8 inch rectangle and fold into thirds (second turn). Wrap and return dough to refrigerator again for 10-20 minutes. Dust the rolling surface with sugar, and then pour about 1 cup of sugar over the dough and roll out again to a 24 x 8 inch rectangle and fold into thirds (third turn). Wrap and return dough to refrigerator again for 10-20 minutes. Repeat last rolling out/turn with another 1 1/2 cups sugar (fourth turn). Wrap dough and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
8. In the morning, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly sugared surface, roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle (about 16 x 25 inches). Cut into 15 squares (or 30, if you want small ones). Fold up corners of one square toward the center and press to seal corners in the middle, or use a toothpick to keep it (sort of) in place. Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining squares.
9. Lightly cover pans with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until puffed, 30-40 minutes. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, 35-40 minutes (15-18 minutes for small ones). If you used toothpicks, remove immediately. Move from pans onto wire racks to cool completely. Makes 15 large pastries and I don't know how many small ones (sorry)
Toothpicks helped keep the small ones intact.
Large ones just opened up, but were still super delicious.