There are just five ingredients in a kouign-amman (just pronounce it “queen ah-mahn” and that’s close enough). Flour, salt, yeast, butter and sugar. That’s it. Doesn’t sound like much, right? So why is this pastry from a sleepy Breton town in northern France showing up in cake cabinets across Melbourne?
It’s less about the ingredients, and more about the proportions. A kouign-amman is about 30 per cent sugar and 30 per cent butter – the dough’s only really there to keep the whole thing together – making it one of the sweetest and fattiest pastries out there.
Take a slab of butter, place it in yeasted bread dough, roll out and fold it repeatedly, then cover it with a mixture of sugar and salt. As the kouign-amman bakes, the butter steams the dough on the inside, which separates it out into airy layers. On the outside, the sugar and salt combine to make a glossy, crisp, caramelised exterior. The result is a muffin-sized miracle of crunch, fluff, salt and sugar.
It’s buttery, it’s sweet and it’s dangerously good with a coffee. So head to one of these bakeries and give one a try. Your mornings might never be the same.