Confession time: I am 100% addicted to The Great British Baking Show! Friends of mine turned me onto it last week and I'm ashamed to say I've now watched 2 full seasons. *don't judge me* So far season 1 has been my favourite. Loved all the people instantly and enjoyed their challenges more than those from second season. Have yet to start season 3.
If you're not familiar with the show this is how each episode works: there's a basic theme for the day, bread, pastry, cakes, etc. and contestants start by baking their "signature bake" based on the theme. Next up is the "technical challenge." In this challenge contestants are all given the same ingredients along with a mostly complete recipe. I say "mostly" because they leave out some key information like how long to bake, or what temperature to use. And even uses very vague, or purposefully ambiguous instructions. They are all judged on final result. And lastly is the "show stopper" which is usually something insanely fancy/complicated (3 tier wedding cake, cookie village, etc). At the end of the episode someone goes home, so on and so forth, until a winner is declared.
Anyways, I mention this because one of the episodes has kouign-amann (pronounced queen-aman) as the technical challenge. Not a single baker in the room had heard of it but I jumped up in surprise because I actually knew what it was!! I had never baked one, but I'd seen photos and perused a recipe or two. So I watched them all struggle through how to put it together, etc. And figured if they can do it handicapped by lack of information then surely I could do it with a full recipe... right?
I can! And I did! These little puppies are delicious. Think of a dessert croissant. Layers and puffiness like a croissant but with more sugar inside and beautiful caramelized bits on the outside. They don't require a lot of ingredients but they do require some patience. While not at all difficult to make, they do take time. In the show contestants were given 3.5hrs. I didn't really keep track of how long it took me, but it's probably in there somewhere - 3.5-4hrs. That said, the recipe I followed did point out a couple of places where you could stop the process and refrigerate until the next day so that's a bonus if you're short on time.
If you search you'll come across numberous recipes for kouign-amann and they all seem to be basically the same. The one I used was from TheKitchn because I have had great success with many of their recipes and I found their step by step photos to be a great help!
Kouign-Amann (adapted from TheKitchn)
1 C room-temperature water
1 packet instant yeast
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour (plus 1/4 C for rolling)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 C salted butter, cold (use a good quality salted butter)
1/2-3/4 C granulated sugar (plus some for rolling)
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the water and yeast. Allow to sit for a few minutes to allow the yeast to dissolve a bit. Using a wooden spoon stir in the flour and salt until a shaggy dough forms. Attach the dough hook and knead on low until a smooth and slightly tacky dough forms. If dough sticks to the sides of the bowl add flour 1 tbsp at a time, or if too stiff and dry add water one tbsp at a time.
Cover the mixing bowl and let rise for an hour, until doubled in size. Once dough has risen place it in the fridge for 30 mins, or as long as overnight.
When you are ready to roll out the dough place your butter between two layers of waxed paper, or plastic wrap, and begin to pound it out with a rolling pin. Pound it into a 6 x 10 inch rectangle and place in the fridge for no more than 15mins (needs to be slightly pliable).
While the butter is chilling roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. We're looking for a 12 x 20 inch length here. Place the chilled butter block in the centre, fold the top section of dough down over the butter, and the bottom section over that (like folding a letter). Roll it out slightly to press the folds together and fold into thirds again.
Turn the dough so that an open end is facing you and roll out to a 12 x 20 rectangle. Fold into 3rds again (just like folding a letter). Turn 90 degrees so an open end is facing you and repeat the process. Once it's been folded this second time place it in the fridge to chill for 30 mins. (We need to keep the butter cold. If at any point the butter seems to be melting, or seeping out fold up the dough and place it in the fridge for 30mins before continuing.)
Remove the dough and roll out into that 12 x 20 rectangle again. Sprinkle with half the sugar, pressing slightly to get it to stick. Proceed with the letter folds. Turn 90 degrees, fold into 3rds again. Roll back out to the 12 x 20 rectangle and sprinkle with more sugar (some, all, it's your call). Fold into 3rds for a final time. Place it on a baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 30mins.
Coat the inside of a 12 cup muffin tin, or 12 pastry rings placed on a lined baking sheet, with butter and set aside.
Sprinkle your work surface with sugar. Place the chilled dough on top and sprinkle that with sugar. Roll out into a 8 x 24 inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into two strips and then cut those into 4 inch squares. Take each square and pull the four corners together in the centre (like a little parcel) and place into the prepared tins (if using muffin tin you will feel like you're shoving them down in a little, that's okay). Continue until all are gathered up and placed in the tin.
Cover with plastic and allow to rise at room temp for 30 mins, until slightly puffy. Preheat oven to 400F.
Place into oven and immediately drop the temperature to 350F. Bake for 40-45mins. They are ready to come out when a deep golden brown colour and tips look like they're just about to burn. Allow to cool in pan just until you're able to handle them and then pull them out onto a rack to cool completely.
As always I want to see what you've been baking so be sure to tag your Instagram photos with #ragebake !