Kouign Amann (butter cake) is a traditional pastry speciality of the Brittany region in north-western France. Originating in the town of Douarnenez around 1860, this rich laminated pastry is prepared much like a croissant dough, with the exception that sugar is sprinkled on each layer as it is folded. As it bakes the sugar then melds with the butter, creating a sweet and sticky caramel lacquer. Not only does this make the kitchen smell like absolute heaven, but results in a pastry that is delicate and soft on the inside, crunchy and flaky on the outside, and devilishly irresistible.
As a first-time baker of these tasty delights I found Kouign Amann easy to make, and while I'm yet to master the art of shaping, the rustic nature of these little beauties was thankfully very forgiving. I left my dough overnight to mature the flavour, and although the effect of the alternating butter and sugar lamination was positively gorgeous, I did find that it pays to work quickly as the sugar really softens on account of the moistness of the dough. As the recipe suggests do un-mould your pastries as soon as temperature permits, and if you're using pastry rings I'd recommend steering clear of any lightweight baking paper, otherwise you'll be leaving all of those beautifully caramelised bottoms behind. Most importantly, however, and what you absolutely must MUST do, is make them.
Being just six ingredients in: yeast, flour, water, salt, butter and sugar; the key is in devoting a lot of love and attention, but indulge in a Kouign Amann just-warm from the oven and I promise you'll struggle to be anything but utterly besotted.