March Bake-Along: Kouign-Amann

Kouign-Amann are made with sugared, laminated dough baked in muffin tins. Part sticky bun and part sugared croissant, these are delicious! This recipe includes tons of step-by-step photos and recipe notes so you can make these amazing pastries at home, too!

Kouign-Amann pastries on a cooling rack.

Welcome to the March edition of the BEB Bake-Along!

This month we are tackling KOUIGN-AMANN! If you’ve never heard of these beauties, they hail from the Brittany region of France, and the name comes from the Breton language words for “butter” and “cake”. They are made from laminated dough, which you would use for croissants or puff pastry, and towards the end sugar is folded into the dough, which creates an amazing sticky fun/caramelized croissant situation once these are baked. In other words, hold onto your hats because these are SO SO GOOD.

You may hear the words “croissant” and “laminated dough” and feel intimidated, but YOU CAN DO THIS! It is absolutely not as difficult as you may fear, and I’m going to talk you through it step by step, with tons of instruction, notes, photos, and a video so you’ll feel 100% confident marching into your kitchen to conquer kouign-amann.

Three kouign-amann pastries stacked with one half-eaten in front.

How to Make Kouign-Amann

I tried making these twice about a year ago but struggled with the process and never got an end product that I was happy with. I am going to blame it on being very, very pregnant (and maybe third time is a charm?) because when I worked on a revised recipe a few weeks ago, they came out absolutely beautifully.

Let’s get down to the brass tacks and talk through how to make these glorious pastries!

The Base Dough

We start off with a very basic yeast dough recipe – water, yeast, salt, and flour. It’s as basic as it comes; we mix it up until a smooth, supple dough forms and we let it rise until doubled, then refrigerate it for about 30 minutes so it’s a little bit easier to roll and work with.

Three step-by-step photos of mixing the dough together.

Kouign-amann dough mixed together, then risen.

The Butter Block

I found approximately 3747557 different methods for incorporating the butter into the dough for kouign-amann, but this method, from Bon Appetit, was absolutely the easiest that I tried. You’re going to take cold butter, cube it, and beat it until there are no more lumps, then you press it into a rectangle, wrap it in parchment paper and use a rolling pin to spread it into a really even layer with perfect edges and corners. You’ve made a butter block! It gets refrigerated for a short amount of time, as well.

Step-by-step photos of creating a butter block for kouign-amann.

Incorporating the Butter Block into the Dough

To initially get the butter working with the dough, we take the chilled dough and roll it out, then place the chilled butter block right in the center. Fold down the dough over the butter block, then fold the bottom part up over it (like folding a letter). We’ll roll it out a little bit to press the layers together, then fold it into thirds one more time.

Step-by-step photos of incorporating the butter block into kouign-amann dough.

Laminating the Dough via “Turns”

THIS is where the magic happens! If you’ve ever wondered how croissants or puff pastry get so many incredible flaky layers, this is precisely how! Laminating the dough refers to the process of repeatedly rolling out the dough, then folding it into thirds and repeating (that entire step – rolling and folding – is referred to as a “turn”). This creates many alternating layers of butter and dough, which is what makes those pastries so flaky and buttery and delicious.

Two photos showing a "turn" in making laminated dough.

In this recipe, we use four total turns for creating those flaky layers. This first time or two that I tried making these, the recipes only called for refrigerating after the 2nd and 4th turns, but I found the dough go very difficult to work with and the butter was squeezing through because it got too warm. As a result, I tried refrigerating for 30 minutes after each turn and it was a phenomenal difference – I never had an issue with the dough.

The first two turns here are just your rolling and folding, but the last two turns are what make kouign-amann a step-above pastry – you sprinkle the entire surface of the dough with sugar and THEN fold. This creates super flaky, sugary layers that are utterly amazing.

Kouign-amann dough rolled out with sugar sprinkled on top.

Finishing the sugared turn for kouign-amann.

Shaping and Baking

Once the turns are completed, the dough is rolled out one last time and cut into squares. To shape the pastries, you fold the corners into the center and tuck them into a buttered muffin tin. They are left to rise at room temperature until nice and puffy, about 30 to 45 minutes, then are ready to bake.

Kouign-mann dough cut into squares, then tucked into a muffin pan.

Kouign-amann are done when they are wonderfully golden brown and the edges are juuuuuuuust about to look burnt. As soon as you’re safely able to handle them, you need to remove them from the muffin tin to a cooling rack because the caramelized sugar in the bottom of the pan will turn rock solid as it cools and the pastries will be impossible to remove without tearing apart.

I tasted these when they were still warm and then cooled completely. The warm one was good; the completely cooled kouign-amann was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. It takes cooling down to really get that crunchy, sugary, flaky texture to all come together, so I implore you, even though they will be so tempting to eat warm (especially with that sticky bun vibe going on the bottom), let them cool off so you can enjoy them in all of their sugary, crunchy, flaky glory.

So, there you have it! We’ve just made kouign-amann together! While these do take a large chunk of time to make, the actual hands-on time is very minimal and there are many places where you can stop and refrigerate or freeze, so be sure to watch for those “Make-Ahead” notes within the recipe if you need to break it up!

An overhead shot of kouign-amann pastries.

Kouign-Amann Recipe Notes

A few quick tips and tricks to help you make the most delicious kouign-amann possible!

  • Use the best butter you can find! European butter tends to have higher fat content, which makes it ideal for a recipe like this. I use Kerrygold at home for baking and eating, and used it for this recipe. It’s sold at my local grocery store.
  • If you do not have a mixer, you can pound the butter by hand. If you use this method, use two sticks of butter, do not cube it. Sprinkle the counter with a tablespoon or two of flour. Lay the butter on top and sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of flour. Gently begin tapping the top of the butter with your rolling pin, and then pound more forcefully once the flour sticks to the butter. Pound the butter flat, then fold it in half using the pastry scraper. Try not to touch the butter with your hands. Pound the butter flat and fold it in half again. Repeat another 2 to 3 times until the butter is very supple, flattens within a few hits of the rolling pin, and folds easily. Sprinkle with additional flour as necessary to prevent the butter from sticking or smearing on the counter or rolling pin. Pound the butter into a rectangle roughly 6 inches by 10 inches. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll out the dough. (Do not refrigerate the butter for longer than 15 minutes or you will need to pound it again.)
  • When you refrigerate the dough between “turns”, do not keep it in the refrigerator for much longer than 30 minutes, or the butter will become too stiff to work with easily.
  • Make a cinnamon-sugar version by mixing ground cinnamon into the sugar before sprinkling it onto the dough.
  • Possible Add-Ins: If you’d like, you can put a little something extra into the centers – a spoonful of jam or salted caramel, some chocolate chips or a small piece of chocolate. I would suggest doing this once they are cut into squares, then fold the corners into the center over whatever filling you have placed in the center.
  • Do not let the pastries cool too long in the pan or the sugar will harden and make them nearly impossible to remove neatly.
  • While these are absolutely best when eaten the same day they are baked, I found them still near perfect the next day after being stored in an airtight container at room temperature. However, after that they softened quite a bit and lost that flaky/crunchy texture they had on the first two days.
  • You can freeze the baked pastries by letting them cool completely, then wrapping individually in plastic wrap and placing in a freezer-safe bag; freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or place in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes. (I DO NOT recommend freezing shaped, unbaked pastries; the sugar will liquify in the freezer and turn to syrup.)

JOIN THE BEB BAKE-ALONG!

To tackle kouign-amann and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

  • Bake the kouign-amann!
  • Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
  • Check in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s soufflé!
  • And a quick reminder that you can sign up for special Bake-Along emails – be alerted to new recipes, receive troubleshooting tips, and end-of-month recaps (you’ll receive a few emails per month) >> CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!

Kouign-amann pastries on a cooling rack with a tea towel underneath.

Alright, who’s with me?! You can serve these for dessert or for breakfast/brunch… or have them with afternoon tea… mid-morning tea… really, you’re going to want to eat them all day long ;-)

I am SO EXCITED to see all of your kouign-amann; once you crank these out in your kitchen, you are going to feel like an absolute rock star! Let’s do this!

If You Like This Kouign-Amann, Try These Recipes:

A single kouign-amann pastry shot overhead.

One year ago: Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Four years ago: Spiced Apple Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Crunch Topping
Five years ago: Twix [Candy Bar] Tart
Six years ago: Chocolate Truffle Cookies
Eight years ago: Moon Pies
Ten years ago: Cucidati Cookies

 

Kouign-Amann:
Watch How to Make Them!

Kouign-Amann

Servings 12
Prep 6 hours
Cook 45 minutes
Total 6 hours 45 minutes
Course:Dessert
Cuisine:French
Author: Michelle

Kouign-Amann are made with sugared, laminated dough baked in muffin tins. Part sticky bun and part sugared croissant, these are delicious! This recipe includes tons of step-by-step photos and recipe notes so you can make these amazing pastries at home, too!

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 1
    cup
    water
    (at room temperature)
  • 2
    teaspoons
    instant yeast
  • cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 1
    teaspoon
    salt

For the Butter Block:

  • 8
    ounces
    salted butter
    (chilled and cubed)

For the Pastries:

  • cups
    granulated sugar
    (divided)

Directions:

  1. Make the Dough: Combine the water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl, if kneading by hand). Add the flour and the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough is formed.
  2. Fit the mixer with a dough hook attachment and knead the dough at low speed until the dough is slightly tacky but smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. If the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time and knead until the dough is smooth. If the dough feels very stiff and dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time and knead until the dough is smooth.
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl that has been lightly greased with butter, turning the dough to coat it with butter. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. [MAKE-AHEAD NOTE: At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight, then proceed with the recipe.]
  5. Make the Butter Block: Beat the butter on low speed until it’s homogeneous and waxy in texture, about 3 minutes, scraping the beater and bowl as needed to break up the cubes. Turn the butter out onto a piece of parchment paper and shape into a rectangle about 6 inches by 10 inches. Wrap up the butter in the parchment paper, pressing out any air. Gently roll a rolling pin over the butter packet, pushing the butter into the corners to create a perfect rectangle with even thickness. Refrigerate until firm yet still pliable, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out the Dough: Place the chilled dough onto a floured work surface and roll into a rectangle 12 inches by 20 inches. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and place it in the middle of the dough. Fold one half of the dough over the butter, then fold the other half on top, like folding a letter. Roll it out slightly to press the layers together, then fold it again into thirds like a letter.
  7. “Turn the Dough” #1: Rotate the dough so that the open, narrower edge is facing you. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 12 inches wide by 20 inches long. Fold the top third down and bottom third up, again like folding a letter. Place the packet of dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  8. “Turn the Dough” #2: Place the packet of dough on a floured surface with the open, narrower edge facing you. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 12 inches wide by 20 inches long. Fold the top third down and bottom third up, again like folding a letter. Place the packet of dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. [MAKE-AHEAD NOTE: At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap, place in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe.]
  9. “Turn the Dough” #3: Place the packet of dough on a floured surface with the open, narrower edge facing you. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 12 inches wide by 20 inches long. Sprinkle the entire surface of the dough with ¾ cup of the sugar, then press lightly to help it stick to the dough. Fold the top third down and bottom third up, again like folding a letter. If any sugar falls out, press it back into the folds. Place the packet of dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  10. “Turn the Dough” #4: Place the packet of dough on a floured surface with the open, narrower edge facing you. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 12 inches wide by 20 inches long. Sprinkle the entire surface of the dough with ¾ cup of the sugar, then press lightly to help it stick to the dough. Fold the top third down and bottom third up, again like folding a letter. If any sugar falls out, press it back into the folds. Place the packet of dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  11. Prepare the Muffin Tin: Grease the insides of a standard 12-cup muffin pan generously with butter. Set aside.
  12. Shape the Kouign-Amann: Sprinkle the work surface with sugar. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer it to the counter. Sprinkle a little additional sugar over the top of the dough. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 8 inches wide by 24 inches long.
  13. Slice the dough down the length to form two strips that are 4 inches wide by 24 inches long. Cut each strip into 4-inch squares to create 12 squares. Fold the corners of each square toward the center. Pick up each pastry and tuck it firmly into the muffin pan; it will feel like you’re squishing the pastry in there! [MAKE-AHEAD NOTE: At this point, you can cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, allow the pastries to come to room temperature and rise for 1 hour before baking.]
  14. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise until slightly puffy, 30 to 40 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  16. Bake the Kouign-Amann: Set the muffin pan on a rimmed baking sheet, place in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until the pastries are deep golden brown and tips are very dark brown, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  17. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the pastries stand until they are just cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Gently remove them from the muffin pan and set them on the cooling rack to finish cooling completely. The kouign amann can be served warm or at room temperature. They are best served the same day they are made.

Recipe Notes:

  • Use the best butter you can find! European butter tends to have higher fat content, which makes it ideal for a recipe like this. I use Kerrygold at home for baking and eating, and used it for this recipe. It’s sold at my local grocery store.
  • If you do not have a mixer, you can pound the butter by hand. If you use this method, use two sticks of butter, do not cube it. Sprinkle the counter with a tablespoon or two of flour. Lay the butter on top and sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of flour. Gently begin tapping the top of the butter with your rolling pin, and then pound more forcefully once the flour sticks to the butter. Pound the butter flat, then fold it in half using the pastry scraper. Try not to touch the butter with your hands. Pound the butter flat and fold it in half again. Repeat another 2 to 3 times until the butter is very supple, flattens within a few hits of the rolling pin, and folds easily. Sprinkle with additional flour as necessary to prevent the butter from sticking or smearing on the counter or rolling pin. Pound the butter into a rectangle roughly 6 inches by 10 inches. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate while you roll out the dough. (Do not refrigerate the butter for longer than 15 minutes or you will need to pound it again.)
  • When you refrigerate the dough between “turns”, do not keep it in the refrigerator for much longer than 30 minutes, or the butter will become too stiff to work with easily.
  • Make a cinnamon-sugar version by mixing ground cinnamon into the sugar before sprinkling it onto the dough.
  • Possible Add-Ins: If you’d like, you can put a little something extra into the centers - a spoonful of jam or salted caramel, some chocolate chips or a small piece of chocolate. I would suggest doing this once they are cut into squares, then fold the corners into the center over whatever filling you have placed in the center.
  • Do not let the pastries cool too long in the pan or the sugar will harden and make them nearly impossible to remove neatly.
  • While these are absolutely best when eaten the same day they are baked, I found them still near perfect the next day after being stored in an airtight container at room temperature. However, after that they softened quite a bit and lost that flaky/crunchy texture they had on the first two days.
  • You can freeze the baked pastries by letting them cool completely, then wrapping individually in plastic wrap and placing in a freezer-safe bag; freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or place in a 325-degree oven for 10 minutes. (I DO NOT recommend freezing shaped, unbaked pastries; the sugar will liquify in the freezer and turn to syrup.)

Nutrition:

Calories: 333kcal
Fat: 15g
Saturated fat: 9g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 331mg
Potassium: 51mg
Carbohydrates: 45g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 25g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 9.4%
Calcium: 0.8%
Iron: 7%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]