Inspired by the many pâtisseries in Paris and the innumerable pastry books on the market, I’m always eager to learn more, try new recipes or even tweak some tried and true favorites. One never knows what great little tip or new technique you might come across as you explore the world of baking and pastry.
This is my way of sharing some of the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn!) along the way. Happy baking!
Inspired by Philippe Conticini’s pastry shop and book La Pâtisserie des Rêves, I hope to bake my way through his wonderful collection of recipes. I use the French edition, but it’s also available in English through Amazon.
First up is Kouign-amann léger.
Ever since Chef Xavier Cotte at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris demonstrated his version of Kouign-amann to our pastry class, I’ve wanted to recreate this delectable caramelized, buttery treat. Over the past couple of years I’ve compared and tested recipes for this traditional Breton specialty from the likes of Alain Ducasse, Philippe Conticini and Pierre Hermé (just to name a few).
|my recipe copy with my notes and musings|
If you’re not familiar with the techniques for laminated dough, there are many publications and online sources that will take you through the steps.
OK, so the first step is to make the dough: the key here is to mix the ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, water, a bit of soft butter and usually a bit of sugar) just until they come together, followed by 30-60 seconds of low speed kneading. Avoid prolonged kneading at this stage, since you don’t want to develop a lot of gluten and have your dough become tough.
Let the dough rest for 30-60 minutes, covered with plastic film, at room temp, followed by 1-2 hours, wrapped in plastic, in the fridge. That gives it enough time to relax and cool before incorporating the butter.
Once you’ve completed the beurrage, give your dough-butter package a 20-30 minute chill before starting the turns. Even after that short chill the butter can tend to crack a bit as you begin to roll, so I tap the dough with my rolling pin to make everything malleable again before starting the turns.
Do two simple turns on a lightly floured surface. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. Do 2 more simple turns, this time rolling in sugar rather than flour. As you roll, continue to sprinkle sugar on your dough and keep rolling it in – and don’t skimp on the sugar!
|rolling with sugar|
|one fold with sugar|
If the dough sits in the fridge at this stage, even for 30 minutes, the sugar starts to melt; the first time I made K-a, I was faced with a soupy, sugary mess when rolling the dough out for the final shaping. You still have to work efficiently after a room temp rest, but there is much less of a syrupy mess to deal with.
Now, once the dough has rested, you’ll want to roll it into a rectangle for cutting. As you roll be sure to give it a break every now and then, so it’s relaxed before you actually cut it. Your squares will hold their shape better. Dredge both sides of your square with more sugar, fold up the corners and place them in your buttered rings or pans.
|cutting the dough squares|
|corners folded up, in the rings and ready to rise!|
I’ve baked K-a in both open tart rings and traditional muffin tins, and I prefer the end result with the muffin tins. While the open tart ring version is still delicious, the sugar on the bottom of the K-a can over caramelize and burn if you’re not paying attention.
Which brings me to baking times and temps. Learn your oven and understand that recipes are guidelines. It is SO important to use all of your senses to help you determine when something is done: Ahhh the aroma; ooohhh what a lovely golden crust; wow, that feels done! And, of course, taste is the piéce de resistance!
|the finished product|
So choose a recipe and GO!
Bon chance tout le monde!!