Kouign Amannn

 Kouign Amann is the name for "butter cake" in the Breton language.  Whatever you call it, it is one of the richest pastries found inside or outside of Brittany.

Below:  Some variations on the Breton cake for sale in Brittany
Kouign Amann is one of those pastries where nobody is sure quite where authenticity and flavor quite intersect.  Even in Brittany, the Breton cake seems to take many different forms, presented here is the shape typically formed in the States.    Basically it is a buttery, carmelized pastry with sugar laminated into the dough, much like one would laminate in butter when making a croissant.    When you look for recipes online, you'll find that nobody can agree how to spell Kouign Amann, let alone agree on how to make it.  The main problem I ran into was folding the sugar into the dough too early. Sugar is very hygroscopic (attracts water) and when folded into the dough and refrigerated for hours, it draws huge amounts of water out of the dough. This makes the dough very messy and hard to work with. So after you fold the sugar into the dough, make sure no more than 30 minutes passes until you shape the pastries.  Also, I should note that in contrast to croissants, salted butter is used.

The shaped pastries can be placed into a jumbo muffin tin or pastry rings on a sheet. Given the propensity of the sugar to bring out moisture, I prefer the jumbo muffin tin. Things are a bit more cramped in the muffin tin, but the tasty syrup formed during the final rise and baking oozes into the dough rather than leaking out the bottom of the pastry ring.

The Dough (24 rolls)

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, yeast, and salt. Add the warm water and stir until a single, moist, shaggy mass of dough has been formed. Add a few Tbsp of water if the dough still looks a bit dry, then stir another 30 seconds. Knead or mix until the gluten is developed.  Cover the dough and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate, or refrigerate immediately and wait at least 12 hours to use.

All purpose flour 5 cups (700 g)
Whole wheat flour 2 cups (260 g)
Dry yeast 1 1/2 Tbsp (14 g)
Kosher salt 1 1/2 Tbsp (21 g)
Water 3 - 3 1/4 cups (711-770 g, 77%)

The Laminations
Butter, salted 2 sticks
Granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp flour onto a work surface then place 2 sticks of cold butter in the middle and sprinkle the tops of the sticks with 2 more Tbsp of flour. With a rolling pin pound the butter until a flat disc has been formed. Fold the butter in half and peel it off the work surface with a pastry scraper or spatula. Sprinkle the work surface with another Tbsp of flour and pound and roll the butter out again with a rolling pin. Fold it again and roll out into a 12 by 12 inch rectangle. Place the butter square into the refrigerator while you roll out the dough.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured work surface into a 12 x 20 inch rectangle. Place the butter on the left 2/3 of the dough rectangle then fold the 1/3 of the dough on the right over onto the butter. Fold the left 1/3 of the dough over the middle third and seal the edges of the dough around the butter, so no butter is showing. Rotate the folded dough 90 degrees and then roll out into a 12 x 20 inch rectangle again. Again, fold the right third onto the middle third of dough and the left third onto the middle third. Fold in half then wrap tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Once again, removed the dough from the refrigerator and perform two more folds, but this time with sugar placed in the folds instead of butter. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a 12 x 20 inch rectangle and sprinkle ¾ cup sugar over the left 2/3. Use the rolling pin to press the sugar into the doug a bit. Fold the right 1/3 over the middle third, then the left third over the middle third. Now rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process with another ¾ cup of sugar. Wrap the dough tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Generously butter jumbo muffin tins and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator divide in half, rolling only half the dough at a time.   Roll out again on a work surface sprinkled with ¼ cup sugar. Form the dough into a 10.5 x 14 inch rectangle then sprinkle with ¼ cup more sugar. Use the rolling pin to push the sugar into the dough a bit. Cut the dough into 3 rows of 3.5 inch squares. Either fold each square from the corners and place in the jumbo muffin tins or cup each square in your hand , leaving the edges toward the tips of your fingers and the middle toward your palm and place in jumbo muffin tins.
Cover the jumbo muffin tins with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake or allow to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes then bake.


Place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any butter that boils out during baking. Preheat the oven to 425, then place the muffin tins in the oven. Turn the oven down to 375 and bake for 30-35 minutes until deep golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the pan for a three minutes then use a table knife to loosen sides and remove from the pan to cool.