Technical Challenges: Pastry Week

Bet you guessed I couldn’t wait for this week! 🙂

I was amused to discover this week’s challenge was Kouign Amann. Although I am Parisian by birth, my mother’s family are proud Bretons, and I was delighted to find I would be baking something exclusive to that region. I myself had not heard of Kouign Amann before, but my mother assured me she had had them and they truly were Breton cakes (incidentally, after all the confusion on Bake Off, they are pronounced kween amon, not kween a-man – sorry Paul!).

Although I had neither made nor heard of these pastries before, I didn’t feel too daunted, as the primary skill seemed to be knowing how to make a good puff pastry. That, I can do!

The hardest part turned out to be the shaping of them. I think I rolled the dough out too thickly, so pinching/folding the corners was tricky, and they came out a little rough-looking.

But here is the result:

Paul Hollywood's Kouign AmannYou can find the recipe here.

There are a few things I would change next time:

Firstly, the puff pastry came out great – there was good ‘lamination’ (layering), the taste was light but decadent, and it looked great. However, to make the shaping easier, I would definitely roll the dough out thinner just before cutting it into squares.

Kouign Amann3Also, I used a fairly shallow muffin tin. This meant that the Kouign Amann grew outwards more than upwards, so they lost some of their shape. I had debated using muffin cases to make sure they had a good smooth base at the bottom and rose high – and I wish I had!

Kouign Amann4Finally, the taste was wonderful, like a sugary croissant cake! But I think it could do with less sugar than the recipe suggests. This might just be because I am used to less/different sugar though.

Overall though, these were easier than I expected. Certainly much easier than the Princesstarta and the Tiramisu Cake! But I have to admit, if I hadn’t known the sugar had to be added in the final layer, I would have been tempted to add it to each layer too.

Kouign AmannThey were really yummy, but they go stale very quickly (as do a lot of French breads/pastries), so you have to be prepared to eat them all in the space of a couple of days. Not that that is tricky when they taste so good! They are particularly lovely for breakfast with coffee, as a croissant substitute.

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