Kouign-Amann – Yas Queen!

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The fact that Kouign-Amann (Pronounced “Queen-a-mahn”) have become a popular item in bakeries across America is quite a tribute to just how incredible they really are, since to stock something that no one can spell or pronounce is generally considered a retail sales no-no. As you may know, I pride myself on mispronouncing things, but even I don’t like to be corrected by a salesperson, and their judgmental, I can’t believe you just said “kooeegan-aman” look.

Yet, despite the difficult name, they’ve thrived for the very simple reason that this is one of the world’s great pastries. Maybe thegreatest. I guess that depends on who you talk to, but the irresistible combination of sweet, salty, sticky, buttery, crispy, flaky, and tender, is hard to beat.

I guess you could just buy some frozen puff pasty, or croissant dough, and skip to the last step, but unlike many of those, the base here is a fairly lean bread dough, which I think is one of the secrets. A richer milk-based dough, which already contains lots of butter and sugar, won’t necessarily provide the same contrast.

Speaking of secrets, I think the real magic of these is the salt. Apparently the authentic ones are fairly salty, and just as savory, as they are sweet, but you don’t want to over do it. I suggest starting with less than I call for in your seasoned sugar mix, and then tasting on a wet finger to see where you’re at. Then, add more until you think it’s right.

Part of me hopes you have a bakery that does these nearby, so you can easily taste them for yourself, but another part of me hopes you don’t, so you’ll try to make them. Either way, you’re in for a huge treat. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Kouign-Amann:
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the seasoned sugar (mix, taste, and adjust):
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons of sea salt or kosher salt (less if you’re using a fine table salt)
For the rest:
8 ounces ice cold unsalted butter (2 sticks) for the pastry
1 tablespoon melted butter for the muffin pan

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