Fills an 8″ round cake pan
12g dried yeast (or 5g of instant yeast)
175g (¾ cup) warm water
260g all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the pastry
½ teaspoon sea salt
200g castor sugar, divided, plus extra for rolling out the pastry
110g salted butter, cut into 2-cm pieces
- In a mixing bowl, dissolve the dried yeast in the water with a pinch of sugar. Stir briefly, then let stand for 10 minutes until foamy. If using instant yeast, you can skip this step and add yeast together with the flour.
- Gradually stir the flour and salt into the mixing bowl. The dough should be soft, but not too sticky. Lightly dust your countertop with flour and transfer the dough onto it.
- Knead the dough with your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic, for about 3 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, gradually add more flour, about 10g or one tablespoon at a time, until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. Gather the dough into a bowl and place it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough ball has doubled.
- Then, on a lightly floured countertop, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12″ x 18″ (or 30 cm by 45cm) with the shorter sides to your left and right. If you would like a step-by-step illustration, do pop by David Lebovitz’s page!
- Mentally divide the rectangle into three equal portions and distribute all the butter cubes in the centre of the dough. Sprinkle 50g of sugar together with the butter cubes. Grab the left side of the dough, lift and fold it over the center, and do the same with the right side (like a letter).
- Then, sprinkle another 50g of sugar along this rectangle and mentally divide this rectangle (it should be about 15cm by 30cm) into three equal portions again. Fold the left over the centre and the right over the left, like in the previous step. You should get a 10cm by 15cm rectangle. Place this on a lightly oiled plate and place it in the fridge for 1 hour. Once chilled, remove the dough from the fridge.
- Dust the countertop with sugar (instead of flour) and roll out the 10cm by 15cm rectangle into a 30cm by 45cm rectangle again. Sprinkle the surface of the rectangle with another 50g of sugar and fold it into thirds, per step 5 again. Place on a lightly oiled plate and let it rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F) and brush the 8 inch cake pan with melted butter. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it into a circle about the size of your baking pan. The dough might be sticky, so use sugar to lightly dust your countertop. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the remaining 50g of sugar. You may wish to drizzle some melted butter as well.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is brown and deeply caramelized. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edges to release the Kouign Amann. Let it cool for at least an hour before consuming.
- Note: Like what David Lebovitz recommended, be sure to use good quality salted butter because it will make a difference. If you don’t have access to a good French salted butter (like say Elle & Vire being the most commonly available in Singapore and Malaysia), use normal salted butter and sprinkle some coarse fleur de sel or sea salt on the butter cubes. Also, if you have the luxury of an air-conditioned kitchen, do use it because the dough is very sticky and the sugar melts very quickly, so you have to be quick. As you can see, my layers weren’t very prominent because my warm hands caused the sugar to melt soooo rapidly and the butter and sugar just leaked across the layers.
- Taste: I found this kouign amann to be slightly less sweet than what I recalled, and definitely not as sweet as Tiong Bahru Bakery’s, but it was just nice for me.
- Texture: I must admit I deviated from David Lebovitz’s method, which was a bad thing. I tried to be ambitious and did the letter-fold four times instead of three as prescribed, and this caused the dough to be slightly more tough and the end product more bread-like. Ideally, this should have less folds than a puff pastry or a croissant.
- Serving size: I’m quite used to seeing the kouign amann in this cake-slice version, but Pierre Herme does it individually in large muffin cups whereas Tiong Bahru Bakery does it like a pinwheel. Naturally, the individual portions means more caramelized bits(!) and more yumminess but this round cake version is equally tasty as well, and definitely more rustic. This recipe will feed 8 people comfortably.
- Storage: It keeps quite well for about 3 days at room temperature, but I would definitely recommend storing it in the fridge and heating it up with the microwave.
- Would I make this again?: YES definitely! If I had to pick between a danish or croissant or this, I would definitely choose this anyway. Plus, so many people who tried this sang praises of it. Jon’s friend called it “the awesome thing” :] There are a couple of methods and recipes to making the kouign amann and after I work off all the extra butter and sugar, I’ll get down to experimenting with those recipes, especially Ladurée’s version!