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Archive for February, 2015

Kouign Amann

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So that 4 mile walk I did this morning? Down the drain after digging into these gorgeous, caramelized morsels of pastry. Can you stop at just one? I dare you. I double dog dare you. Holy cow, these are unbelievable. I am on a sugar high right now and probably on the verge of diabetes (just kidding)….

Lien of Notitie van Lien has chosen the French pastry Kouign amann (pronounced “queen a-mahn”) and it  hails from Brittany, France. It’s kind of like a croissant but also  a palmier, with layer after layer of buttery, flaky pastry on the inside, yet caramelized with sugar on the outside. Pure heaven.

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It’s the 7 year anniversary for the Bread Baking Babes and as a tag along buddy I wanted to share in their celebration.BBBuddy Badge Feb 15

Since I have been quite lazy about posting anything I really felt it was about time I got back on the bandwagon and here is the perfect opportunity. . Even though, I have been quiet as a mouse I still have been baking along with them.

Last month was chapatis

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December was a yummy nutella bread ( It was so much fun I made it twice)

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So I start getting my ingredients together and get the scale out. I weighed the butter and realize that my butter is underweight. I weigh it again. A pound of butter should be 452 grams and I am coming up at 260. What???  I am ready to write the butter company telling them they ripped me off when my husband asks about my digital scale. Mmmmm…. I just changed the batteries so it can’t be that. so I put 8 oz of water on the scale and sure enough…4 1/2 oz. I have never heard of a digital scale going wacko like this, I figured it would just stop one day. So, no scale for now. Oh well…

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And now onto this lovely, layered treat. It is a laminated dough, which just means that butter (and lots of it) is incorporated into the dough through layers so when it goes into the hot oven the steam from the butter puffs up the dough to amazing heights. For some strange reason, I adore making laminated dough. The first time I made puff pastry though, it was not so pretty, not to mention a waste of butter. A few more tries, and a few more pounds of butter, and now I love it.The multi day process of making croissants is actually fun and I look forward to making them. By comparison, these were a breeze to make. I still made them over two days but that was just because it fit better into my schedule. That is the beauty of laminated dough. You must let it rest for at least 30 minutes between each “fold”. Fear not, you can easily make and enjoy these in one day though

This is a great recipe to try for your first go at a laminated dough and if you are anything like me, it won’t be your last.DSC_0056

Now word on butter. I always buy unsalted butter. I love salt, but I like to add my own. I always keep a few pounds on hand tucked away in the freezer. For laminated dough it is recommended that you use good European style butter. It has a higher butterfat content and less moisture. It is also very expensive. I admit I do not spend the money on it. Instead I soften my butter that is needed for the recipe and cream in some flour. For this recipe I used about 3 tablespoons.

For laminated dough’s you also need a “butter block”. This is just butter formed into a square so that it fits into the center  of the dough, which is then wrapped around it and rolled out. My foolproof  way is to line a square cake tin and line it with cling wrap, overhanging it on the sides. I then take my softened flour butter (see above) and press it into a plastic lined square pan, using the overhang as a shield between my hands and the butter and making an even surface. this now gets popped back into the fridge to chill until needed. So easy and convenient. For this recipe I used a 6 inch cake pan.

Since Thursday was national pistachio day, I inserted some pistachio paste into the center of some of them. I also upped the sugar by using some Belgium sugar in the final fold.

BAKE ON!

Equipment and preparation: for this recipe you will need a 12-cup muffin tin and a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. I made 6 large ones using my muffin tin and 18 petit ones using a mini muffin tin. It was for portion control. It didn’t work…

KOUIGN AMANN

1-2 hours preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour cooking time
300-340 g strong plain flour (I used 2 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour)
5 g fast-action yeast (1 1/2 tsp SAF gold)
3/4 tsp salt
200 ml  warm water (roughly 3/4 cup)
25 g unsalted butter, melted (2 tablespoons)
250 g cold unsalted butter, in a block (1/2 pound)
100 g caster sugar for sprinkling on the dough (the final fold just before rolling it out and after it’s been rolled out – not between the other layers), plus extra for sprinkling on top (1/2 cup)

Put the flour (start with 300 g) into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be soft but not sticky (so don’t add too much).

 Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour. Prepare your butter block (6×6 inch square) and chill until needed.
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 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a measure 7 x 14 inches. Place the butter at one end leaving about 1 inch at the edge and then fold the  other half of the dough over it. Pinch the edges firmly to seal in and encase the butter block.  I find this much easier than the standard “envelope” method.DSC_0033
 Roll the dough into a 6 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.
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Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns. On every turn rotate the dough before you begin rolling it out. In other words, if you end a fold with the two sides seams horizontal, then after the 30 minute rest when you begin rolling again the two sides seams should now be vertical.
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Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with 1/4 cup  sugar and  fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 12 x 16 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with the remaining 1/4 cup  sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.DSC_0040

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Press these corners well together, they can open up when unattached to each other (as mine did) Sprinkle with some more sugar and leave to rise (room temperature), covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until
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 Preheat oven to 425 F.
Bake the pastries for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much (and they will). Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn  yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelized sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin. Serve warm or cold. Warm is best!
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If you don’t want to eat them all in want go (of just if you want to, but shouldn’t), bag and freeze them.  Before you eat them: Defrost them and place them in a warm oven (275 F ) for about 4-6 minutes or until warm, they will crisp up again.
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